Frequently Asked Questions
Purchasing a Home
As you evaluate whether to rent or buy a home, here are some things to keep in mind:
- The lower your mortgage rate, the less interest you will pay over the term of your home mortgage (with a fixed rate mortgage)
- The more rents go up, the more you may save by owning a home (with a fixed rate mortgage)
- The longer you plan to stay in your home, the more likely it is that you would benefit by buying rather than renting*
Our Affordability Calculator can give you a rough estimate of how much you can afford to pay each month on a mortgage. For a more precise estimate, call Freedom Mortgage to get pre-qualified.
*The interest you pay on a mortgage may be tax deductible as well. Consult your tax advisor about the deductibility of mortgage interest.
Yes. Freedom Mortgage offers loans for primary homes, second homes (vacation homes) and investment properties.
- Primary homes (owner-occupied primary residence) – the down payment can be as low as 3.5% for FHA loans; 100% financing may be available for VA loans
- Second homes – the down payment can be as low as 10% (conventional loans)
- Investment properties – down payments are usually 20% or more
For all property types, mortgage interest may be tax deductible, depending on how much time you spend in the property. Consult your tax advisor for information about tax deductions. For more information about loan options for different property types, contact a licensed Loan Officer at Freedom Mortgage.
A fixed rate mortgage locks in your interest rate for the life of your loan.
- Your base monthly mortgage payment (principal and interest) will always stay the same (although your taxes and insurance may change)
- If you stay in your home for a long time, a fixed rate mortgage may be more affordable than an adjustable rate mortgage
Call Freedom Mortgage to learn more about fixed-rate mortgages.
With an adjustable rate mortgage, you get a lower interest rate for an initial time period (usually the first 1, 3, 5 or 7 years). After that, your interest rate will reset at the market rate. Most ARMs have caps that limit how high the interest rate can go. Make sure you will be able to afford your payment if your interest rate reaches that cap.
Call Freedom Mortgage to learn more about adjustable-rate mortgages..
Refinancing a Mortgage
The decision to refinance your mortgage depends on your financial situation. Some reasons include:
- Refinancing at a lower interest rate to lower your monthly payment
- Obtaining a stable principal and interest payment by converting from an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) to a fixed rate loan
- Consolidating high interest debt (credit cards, student loans) by using the equity in your home to obtain cash
Call Freedom Mortgage to learn more about how you may be able to benefit from refinancing.
Freedom Mortgage offers many types of refinancing loan programs. The type of loan you choose will depend on your reason for refinancing. Two common types of refinancing are:
- Cash Out. . If you would like to obtain cash to have on hand for expenses or to pay down high-interest debt, Freedom Mortgage offers cash-out refinancing in the form of conventional, FHA and VA loans
- Streamline. If you don’t need cash but you would like to obtain a lower interest rate to reduce your monthly payment, you may qualify for either FHA or VA Streamline Refinancing, which features less documentation and no appraisal
To learn more about your refinancing options call Freedom Mortgage today.
An FHA loan is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), an agency of the U.S. government.
Because one of the FHA’s goals is to help more people become homeowners, FHA-insured loans have smaller down payments and other benefits:
- Down payments as low as 3.5%
- Lower closing costs
- Easier credit qualifying
- You may be able to use money received as a gift toward your down payment
There are many benefits to FHA loans. Call Freedom Mortgage today to find out if you can benefit from an FHA loan.
If you have a mortgage on your home right now, you may be able to refinance into an FHA loan and get cash to pay off high-interest debt (credit cards, student loans) or use for other expenses..
Find out more about FHA Cash Out Refinancing. Call Freedom Mortgage today.
The FHA Streamline Refinance program is for borrowers who have already have an FHA loan and would like to lower their monthly payments. Borrowers may not receive any cash from an FHA Streamline Refinance.
Find out more about FHA Streamline Refinancing. Call Freedom Mortgage today.
A VA loan is a mortgage that is guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA helps active military, veterans and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners by enabling VA-approved lenders to offer loans with these benefits:
- No down payment*
- No private mortgage insurance premium
- No pre-payment penalties
Freedom Mortgage is a VA-approved lender with more than 25 years of experience. Call Freedom Mortgage to learn more about VA loans.
*As long as the sales price does not exceed the appraised value.
If you have a VA loan on your home right now, you may be able refinance and get cash to pay off high-interest debt, make home improvements or further your education, The VA will guarantee loans up to 100% of the value of your home.
Find out if you qualify for VA Cash Out Refinancing. Call Freedom Mortgage today.
If you have a VA loan and you are not looking to obtain cash from refinancing your mortgage, you may qualify for a VA Streamline Refinance. This type of VA loan can reduce your interest rate so you can lower your monthly payments and save you money over the life of your loan.
Find out if you qualify for VA Streamline Refinancing. Call Freedom Mortgage today.
The Mortgage Process
Here are some of the key steps in the mortgage process:
- Check your credit report and scores
- Get pre-qualified for a mortgage
- Apply for a mortgage
- Prepare for closing
- Attend closing
Call Freedom Mortgage to get pre-qualified.
Freedom Mortgage can get you pre-qualified to help you determine how much you can afford to pay on a mortgage. We’ll ask you questions about your income, debts and expenses.
While a pre-qualification estimate is not a guarantee to lend, it does help you set your price range, your budget, and how much you can put toward a down payment. Call Freedom Mortgage to get pre-qualified.
That depends on the type of loan you get and the interest rate you pay.
- You may be able to get a lower interest rate if you make a bigger down payment
- If you put at least 20% down, you may be able to avoid paying mortgage insurance
- FHA loans require as little as 3.5% down
- VA loans offer up to 100% financing for qualified veterans, active military and surviving spouses
For more information about down payment options, call Freedom Mortgage.
You can start by making sure you have all the documents you need to bring to closing:
- Government-issued photo ID for borrower and co-borrower
- Cash necessary for closing costs (typically a cashier’s check; not a personal check)
- Binder for homeowners’ insurance (hazard insurance) and paid receipt
There will probably be other items as well. One of the biggest risks to closing on time is a change in a borrower’s financial circumstance. You may want to avoid opening a new credit card account, buying a car or making any other large purchase prior to closing.
It is an account, established and managed by Freedom Mortgage, to pay your real estate taxes, hazard insurance and mortgage insurance, if required. Part of your total monthly mortgage payment will be used to fund the escrow account.
We estimate the amount of taxes and insurance to be paid over the next year based on the last known bill and divide that sum by 12. This amount is included in your total monthly mortgage payment. We obtain information from taxing authorities, insurance companies and other sources to determine the amounts payable. We will review your escrow account each year to ensure that sufficient funds are in the account to make the required payments. Your payment may be adjusted to ensure that your escrow account has the necessary funds to pay the required amounts due.
The funds in your escrow account pay:
- Real Estate taxes
- Hazard insurance as required (Homeowners, Fire, Flood, Windstorm)
- Mortgage insurance (PMI/MIP if required)
The escrow account does not disburse funds to pay:
- Supplemental tax bills, interim tax bills, special or added tax assessments, or any other fees that are not included in your property tax bill
- Homeowners association fees
- Premiums for non-required insurance policies, such as separate personal property insurance
The actual amount of taxes and insurance paid may be higher than were estimated. To ensure the escrow account has sufficient funds to cover the amount of the bill at the time of payment, you may be required to keep a minimum balance in your account at all times. The minimum balance varies by state, but will not be more than 2 months of your monthly escrow payment.
Each year, we review your account to make sure the escrow portion of your total monthly payment is sufficient to pay your property taxes and insurance premiums, while also maintaining the required minimum balance. Changes to your property taxes and insurance premiums may cause your monthly escrow payment to change. We’ll send you an escrow analysis statement annually which will detail what was paid and what we project to pay the following year. This statement will also provide you with your new escrow payment for the upcoming year.
If the funds in your escrow account are projected to be below the required minimum balance at any point in the 12-month period, you have a shortage. This can happen if the taxes or insurance premiums for the previous 12 months were more than expected, or the projections for the next 12 months are higher than the previous year. The escrow analysis statement will provide detailed information on the shortage.
There are two ways to repay an escrow shortage:
- Pay it over 12 months. We will automatically adjust your monthly payment to include the shortage amount.
- Pay it in full. Send a check for the full amount of the escrow shortage.
If your escrow account is projected to have more than the required minimum balance required at any point in the 12-month period, you have an overage. This can happen if the taxes or insurance premiums for the previous 12 months were less than expected or the projections for the next 12 months are lower than the previous year. The escrow analysis statement will provide detailed information on the overage. If the overage is greater than $50, we will send you a check for the overage amount.
If you set up automatic mortgage payments with us, your payment will be adjusted to reflect the new payment amount. No action is required on your part. If you set up bill payment options through your bank, you will need to update the amount scheduled to be sent to pay your mortgage payment.
No. We usually receive the bills from your local tax office and insurance company. We will contact you if you will be required to send the bills to us.
Interest on escrow is paid based on state regulations. The regulations govern the interest rate that we are required to pay and the frequency of interest payments. If your state requires interest be paid on escrow funds, we will credit the interest earned to your escrow account.
Freedom Mortgage utilizes a state schedule to perform the annual escrow analysis. While we make every effort to adhere to this schedule, there may be times when the timing of the analysis will differ.
Amortization is when you gradually pay off your mortgage over the years by making regular payments.
- At the beginning, most of the monthly payment goes toward paying off interest
- As time goes on, more of the payment goes toward principal
- At the end of the loan term, all principal and interest is repaid
An Amortization Schedule of your loan shows you how much principal and interest you are paying each month on your loan. To learn more about amortization and loan options, call Freedom Mortgage.
Annual percentage rate (APR) tells you the full cost of borrowing money. It includes:
- Simple interest rate of the loan
- Add-on fees, such as closing costs
Because it includes fees and points, the APR is typically higher than the simple interest rate quoted on a loan. To learn more about loan options and obtain an interest rate quote, call Freedom Mortgage.
A conventional loan is not guaranteed by the U.S. government as are FHA, VA and USDA loans.
- Conventional loans usually have lower interest rates than government-backed loans
- Conventional loans typically require higher down payments, but they may also be processed faster because there is usually less paperwork than government-backed loans
Conventional loans are available as fixed rate or adjustable rate mortgages.
Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is used to calculate how much mortgage you can afford. In general, lower your DTI, the easier it will be for you to pay your mortgage.
Here’s how to calculate your DTI:
- Add up all of your monthly debt payments, including rent or mortgage, credit cards, car loans, student loans, etc.
- Divide that number by your gross monthly income (earnings before taxes)
Your lender will calculate your DTI to help you choose an affordable mortgage. To learn more about loan options, call Freedom Mortgage.
Your mortgage interest rate is how much you pay each year to borrow money from your lender. It is a percentage of your loan amount.
Your mortgage rate is also referred to as the simple interest rate. That is different than the Annual Percentage Rate (APR), which includes points, lender fees and other charges that are part of the cost of your loan, as well as the simple interest rate.
Interest rates change daily. To learn more about loan options and interest rates, call Freedom Mortgage today.
A jumbo loan is a mortgage that is larger than the conforming loan limits published by the Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA). You will probably pay a higher interest rate on a jumbo loan. Also, jumbo loans typically require more than 20% down payment.
To learn more about loan options, call Freedom Mortgage.
Points are interest charges that you pay up front when you get a mortgage. One point is equal to 1.00% of the total loan amount. Points are also called discount points or loan origination fees.
- You can pay points to get a lower interest rate
- Paying points can lower your monthly mortgage payment
There may also be a tax benefit from buying points. Consult a tax professional and/or financial advisor to calculate the benefit that you would obtain from paying points.
To learn more about loan options and obtain an interest rate quote, call Freedom Mortgage.
A rate lock happens when a lender guarantees, in writing, to give you a specific interest rate as long as your loan closes in a certain time period (usually 30 or 60 days) and there are no major changes in your loan application.
Rate lock agreements usually spell out:
- Interest rate
- Points to be paid (if any)
- Rate lock period
A rate lock gives you peace of mind, especially when interest rates may be going up.
To learn more about loan options, call Freedom Mortgage.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers a Rural Development mortgage program to help low and moderate-income borrowers become homeowners or rehabilitate dwellings in eligible rural areas. The program is offered in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. There are eligibility requirements regarding income as well as property location. Visit www.usda.gov for details.
To learn more about USDA loans and other mortgages, call Freedom Mortgage.