A Complete Guide To Par Rates
Scott Steinberg4-minute read
June 14, 2023
A par rate is the special mortgage interest rate that any given financial lender will charge you as the borrower for access to a specific loan product.
It’s a crucial piece of information to have for most borrowers, as it essentially describes the lending interest rate for a loan that you can obtain without any lender credit or discount points applied. (In other words, it’s how much interest on your home mortgage you can expect to pay.)
A par rate will influence your monthly mortgage payment, how much you can expect to lay out in annual housing expenses, the total loan amount you pay for borrowing and more. Read on to find out more about how par rate works in practice.
What Is A Par Rate?
A par rate is the cost of your interest rate before expenses such as any origination fees are included. Put simply, it is the rate on a mortgage loan that you can expect to receive based on the type of loan you’ll be signing up for and your credit history – unadjusted by any factors that would pay down (or lower) your interest rate.
To obtain your par rate, you don’t have to pay any discount points (the one-time fees paid to the lender to lower your interest rate and monthly payment) as a borrower.
Before applying for a home mortgage, it’s important to establish a good credit score and history. These factors will influence the type of mortgage you’ll be able to apply for, and the par rate that you’ll be eligible to receive.
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How Do Mortgage Par Rates Work?
Before allowing you to borrow any sums, mortgage underwriters (the financial pros who evaluate your finances and assess how much risk you may be to a lender) must first provide approval. In effect, a mortgage underwriter will be the final judge of whether you’ll receive a home loan. They’ll work with you to gather the necessary paperwork and insights to make this determination.
Several common factors that underwriters take into account when weighing prospective applications include, but are not limited to:
- Credit score
- Credit history
- Debt-to-income ratio (DTI)
The higher your credit score (and the harder you work at improving your credit score) before applying for a loan, the more favorable your par rate will generally be.
Note that as part of any mortgage loan agreement, you must agree to a par rate.
It’s essential to be aware that as a general rule, Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and conventional loans come with more favorable par rates than loans made on second homes and investment properties. Loans for single-family homes may also come with a lower par rate attached than those keyed to apartments, condominiums and other multifamily residences. Shorter-term loans also typically come with lower interest rates attached than longer-term loan products.
How Do Mortgage Lenders Use Par Rates?
Mortgage lenders use par rates as a measure of any given borrower’s risk. They also utilize them in the servicing of the loan and the determination of monthly mortgage payments. Par rates can also be used as a tool to buy and sell mortgages in the secondary market or to other banks, as mortgage providers often sell or hand off the servicing of loan agreements to other providers.
How Can Par Rates Be Adjusted?
The par rate that a mortgage underwriter provides you can also be adjusted to a lower rate through premiums and discounts. To find out more about possible options for adjusting and lowering your par rate, speak with your loan officer.
Note that a par rate that’s been adjusted is referred to as the “adjusted par rate,” and final details can be found outlined in your home’s closing statements.
As we’ve mentioned above, discount points (or mortgage points) are one-time fees that you can pay to your lender to lower your mortgage par rate.
By way of example, on a $150,000 home loan, you could save $21.85 per month (or $7,866 over the course of a 30-year loan) by paying 1.25 points ($1,875 in additional closing costs) on your loan.
Alternately, paying 2 points on the same loan would result in additional costs at closing of $3,000 – but produce a $66.41 decrease in your monthly mortgage payment– adding up to a whopping $23,907.60 savings over the lifetime of a 30-year loan.
Financial lenders may also agree to pay part of your closing costs – fees paid at the time of closing upon purchasing your property – in exchange for lender credits. This allows you to close on a property and complete a real estate sale without having to pay as much in closing costs at the time the property is sold.
However, in the event that you’ve opted to accept lender credits, you’ll be required to accept and receive a slightly higher interest rate.
When discussing lender credits and low closing costs, it’s important to mention that special purpose credit programs (SPCPs) are also available to borrowers from underserved populations. This type of program aims to make it easier for applicants to qualify for a mortgage loan.
Rocket Mortgage® has a program called Purchase Plus which helps qualified borrowers by offering a base credit of $5,000. We will also contribute an additional lender credit of 1% of your home’s purchase price – up to $2,500. If you’re qualified, this program could end up reducing your down payment substantially.
How Can I Estimate My Par Rate?
Only mortgage underwriters can accurately set par rates. Nonetheless, borrowers can attempt to determine their mortgage rate using their lender’s standard market rates by loan type. As you go about researching your potential par interest rate, be sure to look into multiple loan types and lenders to determine which makes the most sense for you.
Borrowers can also calculate how a change in interest rate will affect their monthly mortgage payment using our mortgage calculator.
The Bottom Line: Consider Your Par Rate Options
To summarize, a par rate is the interest rate on your mortgage that your chosen finance provider will charge you for servicing your loan without the application of discount points or lender credits.
Ready to continue on your home buying journey? Start the mortgage process today.
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