Lock Your Mortgage Rate : New Loan Fees Expected Within Days

Payroll tax fees for new loansStarting soon, nearly all home buyers and refinancing households nationwide will pay higher mortgage loan fees. Congress has made it law.

13 months ago, as part of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, Congress enacted a one-year cut to FICA payroll taxes.

FICA stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act. Taxes collected under FICA fund such programs as Social Security and Medicare.

The stimulus plan temporarily lowered tax rates for salaried workers from 6.2% to 4.2%; and for self-employed persons from 12.4% to 10.4%. Effective January 1, 2012, “regular” tax rates were to return.

That is, until late-December 2011. In one of its last moves of the year, Congress passed a temporary, two-month extension to the payroll tax cut, extending it through February 29, 2012. The expected cost to the U.S. Treasury is $33 billion.

To recoup those costs, Congress has turned to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA.

Each entity has been ordered to collect news fees on each new mortgage is backs, and has been told to forward said fees to U.S. Treasury directly. There’s no “workaround” allowed or forgiveness applied — each new loan is subject to the payment. 

The rules are listed on page 17 of the law’s final draft, in a section unambiguously titled “Title IV — Mortgage Fees and Premiums”.

According to the law :

  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac must collect an average fee of no less than 10 basis points (0.1%) per new loan
  • The FHA must raise its monthly mortgage insurance premiums 10 basis points for all new loans

The expected cost to consumers is no less than $10 monthly per $100,000 borrowed. Some analysts, however, expect Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to collect more than is minimally required. This could add an additional $30-50 to your monthly mortgage payment per $100,000 borrowed.

Therefore, if you’ve been shopping for a home or for mortgage rates , take advantage. Within days, lenders are expected to start collecting Payroll Tax Extension fees from mortgage applicants — a move that will cost you money.

Lock today to avoid the big fees. Save yourself money.

What Will The Debt Ceiling Agreement Do To Mortgage Rates?

Debt ceiling debate resolutionThe United States is projected to reach its legal $14.294 trillion debt limit today. The limit was set by Congress February 12, 2010. The U.S. Treasury may not issue new debt beyond the debt ceiling.

Since April 2011, Congress has debated ways to remain below the nation’s $14.292 trillion borrowing limit. The debate commenced with the passage of the 2011 U.S. Federal Budget which featured a $1.645 trillion deficit.

This multi-trillion dollar deficit ensured that the debt ceiling would be touched at some point during the current fiscal year.

That date was May 16. It took an intervention from the Treasury Secretary to temporarily extend the limits; an “extraordinary measure” meant to keep the U.S. government from defaulting on its debt.

With additional room to borrow, then, the U.S. Treasury’s new debt ceiling date was moved to August 2. Congress has been debating the federal budget since mid-May with the dual-goal of (1) Remaining below the federal debt limit, and (2) Creating a budgetary surplus for the future.

An agreement is expected today.

For home buyers and rate shoppers , this is an important development. The debt ceiling agreement will influence mortgage markets and, as a result, require amendments to home affordability calculations. As mortgage rates change, your purchasing power does, too.

Unfortunately, we don’t know in which direction mortgage rates will go.

Since the prospect of a deal was first hinted Friday, mortgage rates have been improving. Conforming, 30-year fixed rates are down nearly 0.250 percent, lowering a $150,000 mortgage payment by $22 per month.

The final deal terms of a deal, however, could lead rates higher.

As always, the safest play is to lock your mortgage rate if you are comfortable with its proposed payment. Yes, mortgage rates may move lower in the future but, then again, maybe they’ll move higher.