Home Value: the appraised value of a home. This is used in part to determine if property mortgage insurance (PMI) is needed.
Loan Amount: the amount a borrower is borrowing against the home. If the loan amount is above 80% of the appraisal then PMI is required until the loan is paid off enough to where the Loan-to-value (LTV) is below 80%.
Interest Rate: this is the quoted APR a bank charges the borrower. In some cases a borrower may want to pay points to lower the effective interest rate. In general discount points are a better value if the borrower intends to live in the home for an extended period of time & they expect interest rates to rise. If the buyer believes interest rates will fall or plans on moving in a few years then points are a less compelling option. This calculator can help home buyers figure out if it makes sense to buy points to lower their rate of interest. For your convenience we also publish current local mortgage rates.
Loan Term: the number of years the loan is scheduled to be paid over. The 30-year fixed-rate loan is the most common term in the United States, but as the economy has went through more frequent booms & busts this century it can make sense to purchase a smaller home with a 15-year mortgage. If a home buyer opts for a 30-year loan, most of their early payments will go toward interest on the loan. Extra payments applied directly to the principal early in the loan term can save many years off the life of the loan.
Property Tax: this is the local rate home owners are charged to pay for various municipal expenses. Those who rent ultimately pay this expense as part of their rent as it is reflected in their rental price. One can’t simply look at the old property tax payment on a home to determine what they will be on a forward basis, as the assessed value of the home & the effective rate may change over time. Real estate portals like Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, Redfin, Homes.com & Movoto list current & historical property tax payments on many properties. If property tax is 20 or below the calculator treats it as an annual assessment percentage based on the home’s price. If property tax is set above 20 the calculator presumes the amount entered is the annual assessment amount.
PMI: Property mortgage insurance policies insure the lender gets paid if the borrower does not repay the loan. PMI is only required on conventional mortgages if they have a Loan-to-value (LTV) above 80%. Some home buyers take out a second mortgage to use as part of their downpayment on the first loan to help bypass PMI requirements. FHA & VA loans have different down payment & loan insurance requirements which are reflected in their monthly payments.
Homeowners insurance: most homeowner policies cover things like loss of use, personal property within the home, dwelling & structural damage & liability. Typically earthquakes & floods are excluded due to the geographic concentration of damage which would often bankrupt local insurance providers. Historically flood insurance has been heavily subsidized by the United States federal government, however in the recent home price recovery some low lying areas in Florida have not recovered as quickly as the rest of the market due in part to dramatically increasing flood insurance premiums.
HOA: home owner’s association dues are common in condos & other shared-property communities. They cover routine maintenance of the building along with structural issues. Be aware that depending on build quality HOA fees can rise significantly 10 to 15 years after a structure is built, as any issues with build quality begin to emerge.
Our site also publishes an in-depth glossary of industry-related terms here.