Tag Archives: homebuyers

APR vs Interest Rates

When financing a new home, you’ll need to learn the difference between the APR and the interest rate.

When comparing long-term loans, the interest rate and the annual percentage rate (APR) are often confused. While the interest rate refers to the annual interest expense of the loan, the APR reflects the annual cost of borrowing money from the lender.

Clear as mud? Don’t worry; we can help. Let’s take a closer look at the difference between these two terms and how each one impacts your loan.

Interest rate defined

The interest rate, or the nominal rate, is the rate of interest the lender charges the borrower for the loan. For example, a $300,000 mortgage with a 4% interest rate would have an annual interest expense of $12,000, or $1,200 a month. This number only represents the interest rate on the loan and does not factor any other costs.

Interest rates are influenced by the federal funds rate, which is set by the Federal Reserve, otherwise known as “the Fed.” The federal funds rate is the interest rate at which banks lend each other money overnight.

During an economic recession, the Fed will lower the federal funds rate to encourage consumers to borrow and spend more money. During the coronavirus recession, for example, the Fed slashed the federal funds rate to just .25%.

In contrast, during times of economic growth, the Fed will raise the federal funds rate to encourage personal savings for balancing out the cash flow and stabilizing inflation.

APR defined

The APR on a loan is the approximate annual cost of borrowing money from a financial institution.

The APR includes the interest expense, along with all other fees and costs involved in taking out the loan. This can reflect closing costs, loan origination fees, mortgage insurance, broker fees and rebates. The APR is expressed as a percentage of the entire loan amount and will nearly always be greater than the interest rate.

On a $300,000 mortgage with closing costs, loan origination fees and mortgage insurance totaling $5,000, the loan amount would be adjusted to $305,000. The 4% interest rate will then be used to calculate a new annual interest expense of $12,200. To determine the APR on the loan, divide the annual payment of $12,200 by the original loan amount to get 4.06%. The borrower will now pay this percentage of their loan each month.

Which number is more important to consider when taking out a loan?

Here’s where the two terms can get confusing.

When comparing rates on two different loans, the loan with the lower nominal interest rate will generally offer the better value since the bulk of the loan amount is being financed at a lower rate. Usually, the loan with a lower nominal rate will also feature a lower APR.

While a loan with a lower APR is generally the better choice, it’s important for borrowers to consider the length of time they plan to stay in their home. Most home buyers will need to purchase discount points, also known as mortgage points, to qualify for loans with lower APRs. Each point costs 1% of the mortgage (or $1,000 for every $100,000) and will lower the interest rate by .25%. Discount points need to be purchased upfront. This means the borrower will need to pay thousands of dollars at closing to qualify for a lower-APR loan.

It can take more than five years for the borrower to break even on the extra costs they paid for the loan through their lower monthly payments. Consequently, for home buyers who plan to move within the next decade or sooner, it may make more sense to choose a loan with a higher APR and fewer upfront costs.

Taking out a home loan involves multiple decisions, which will affect your finances for years to come. It’s important to learn the difference between interest rates and APRs and to run the numbers to determine which loan offers you the better value before choosing a loan.


If you’re planning to take out a home loan in the near future, connect with our Lending Specialists to explore your options at 503-275-0300 Option 2.

Mortgage Closing Scams : How to protect yourself

Closing on a new home can be one of your most memorable life moments. It’s the final and one of the most critical stages in the home-buying journey, but with the exchange of key paperwork and a sizable down payment, it can also be a stressful experience, especially for first-time home buyers.

The FBI has reported that scammers are increasingly taking advantage of home buyers during the closing process. Through a sophisticated phishing scam, they attempt to divert your closing costs and down payment into a fraudulent account by confirming or suggesting last-minute changes to your wiring instructions. In fact, reports of these attempts have risen 1,100 percent between 2015 and 2017, and in 2017 alone, there was an estimated loss of nearly $1 billion in real estate transaction costs.

While it’s easy to think you may not fall for this kind of scam, these schemes are complex and often appear as legitimate conversations with your real estate or settlement agent. The ultimate cost to victims could be the loss of their life savings.

Here’s what you should know and how to avoid it happening to you.

How it works

Scammers are increasingly targeting real estate professionals, seeking to comprise their email in order to monitor email correspondences with clients and identify upcoming real estate transactions. During the closing process, scammers send spoofed emails to home buyers – posing as the real estate agent, settlement agent, legal representative or another trusted individuals – with false instructions for wiring closing funds.

How to avoid a mortgage phishing scam

  • Identify two trusted individuals to confirm the closing process and payment instructions. Ahead of your mortgage closing, discuss in person, or by phone, the closing process and money transfer protocols with these trusted individuals (realtor, settlement agent, etc.). Be cautious about exchanging any details about your closing over email. You may want to use this opportunity to also create a code phrase, known only by these trusted parties, if you need a secure way to confirm their identities in the future.
  • Write down their names and contact information. Use the Mortgage Closing Checklist created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to list these individuals and their primary phone numbers.
  • Before wiring money, always confirm instructions with your trusted representatives. Never follow instructions contained in an email. Verify the closing instructions, including the account name and number, with your trusted representatives either in person or by using the phone number you previously agreed to.
  • Avoid using phone numbers or links in an email. Again, scammers can closely replicate the email address, phone number and format of an exchange from your agents. Avoid clicking on any links or downloading attachments without first confirming with your trusted representatives.
  • Do NOT email financial information. Email is never a secure way to send financial information.
  • Be mindful of phone conversations. It may be difficult to identify whether a phone call is fraudulent or legitimate. Scammers may call and ask you to verify your personal or financial information. When in doubt, always refer back to your trusted professionals to confirm whether it’s legitimate.

What to do if it happens to you

  • Contact your credit union or wire-transfer company immediately. Reporting the error as soon as possible can increase the likelihood that you’ll be able to recover your money.
  • File a complaint with the FBI. Contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov .

While it can be easy to think you’ll never fall for a scam of this nature, the reality is that it’s becoming more and more common, and the results can be disastrous for eager homeowners. By being mindful and taking a few important steps ahead of your closing, you can protect yourself and your loved ones.

Brought to you by our friends at the Consumer Financial Bureau


Buying or Refinancing? Talk to us first – we are here to help! Connect with our Lending Specialists at 503-275-0300 Option 2 or by visiting our Branch located at 95 SW Taylor St., Portland, OR.