Understanding the Cost of a Conventional Loan

Aug 14, 2023 | Mortgage Guides

Decoding Expenses: A Guide to the Costs of Conventional Loans

Conventional loans have long been a staple in the vast landscape of financial products. As the prevalent and traditional forms of borrowing, they have enabled millions of individuals to achieve their homeownership and business expansion dreams. However, beneath the surface lies an array of costs.

From the inception of the loan application to the final payment, many expenses come into play, each with its significance and implications. We will explore the interest rates, origination fees, private mortgage insurance (PMI), closing costs, and other fees that influence the affordability and feasibility of a conventional loan.

Beyond the initial commitment, this article also delves into the long-term impact, considering how they affect payments, debt burden, and financial opportunities. 

Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned entrepreneur funding your next venture, grasping the nuances is vital for making sound financial choices. Throughout this article, we will provide expert insights and practical tips to empower borrowers with the knowledge to navigate the conventional lending landscape.

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Factors Affecting Loan Costs

Interest Rates

Interest rates impact conventional loans in many ways. First, they affect the payment. When interest rates are higher, the mortgage will be higher. Second, interest rates affect the interest paid over the life of the loan. This is because the loan will be paid off over a longer time. Third, the rates can affect the availability of loans. Lenders may be unwilling to make loans with high-interest rates since they earn less profit. In general, higher interest rates make it more expensive to borrow money. 

The Role of Loan Terms in Cost Calculation

The term is the time to repay the loan. It is expressed in years. The loan term affects the amount of interest. Hence, always consider the duration. A shorter loan term means lower payments, but you pay more interest. A longer loan term means lower interest, but the payments will be higher.

The best term depends on your circumstances. A shorter loan term may be a good option if you can afford higher payments. Also, consider the interest rate. A lower interest rate means lower payments and less interest paid. 

How Down Payment Amount Influences Total

The down payment affects the cost in several ways. First, a larger down payment will lower mortgages. Second, it will make you more attractive to lenders, which could lead to a lower interest rate. Third, a larger down payment will reduce your loan-to-value ratio, which measures how much of the home you borrow against. A lower loan-to-value ratio means you are less risky.

A down payment of 20% or more is ideal. This avoids private mortgage insurance (PMI). If you can’t afford a 20% down payment, options are still available. You can get a loan with a down payment of as little as 3%, but you must pay PMI. You can also look into government-backed options.

Credit Scores and Loan Costs

A credit score is how lenders assess creditworthiness. It is based on payment history, debt, and the length of credit history. A higher credit score indicates a lower-risk borrower who may be eligible for lower interest rates.

Loan costs are determined by the lender’s risk assessment, the interest rate, the loan length, and other factors. A higher credit score can qualify you for lower interest rates. Here are some tips for improving your credit score:

  • Pay your bills on time, every time.
  • Keep your credit utilization low. Use less than 30% of your available credit.
  • Pay off your debt. The longer the debt, the more it impacts the credit score.
  • Dispute errors on your credit report.
  • Check your credit report. Get a free copy from each of the three major credit bureaus once per year at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Debt-to-Income Ratio

The debt-to-income ratio (DTI) measures debt compared to income. Lenders use DTI to assess your ability to repay a loan. A lower DTI means you’re a lower-risk borrower and more likely to qualify. To calculate DTI, add your debts, including mortgage, car and student loans, and credit card payments. Then, divide that number by your gross income.

Financiers consider borrowers with DTIs of 36% or less to be ideal. However, depending on the qualifications, some may approve DTIs up to 50%. If you have a high DTI, there are ways to boost your chances:

Loan Fees and Closing Costs

Loan Origination Fees

Charged by a creditor to cover the costs of processing a loan application. The fee is a percentage paid when the loan is closed. Loan origination fees serve several purposes. 

First, they help to cover the processing costs. This includes the costs of underwriting, which evaluates the borrower’s creditworthiness, and closing the loan, which finalizes the terms and conditions.

Second, loan origination fees compensate the lender because there is always the possibility of the borrower defaulting. The origination fee offsets this risk.

Third, loan origination fees discourage borrowers from taking out loans they cannot afford. If borrowers have a significant expense, they may be less likely to take out a loan they cannot repay.

Appraisal Fees

Costs associated with having a property appraised. The fees depend on the location, the property’s size, and the appraisal’s complexity. Appraisal fees can impact the value of a property. For example, if it is appraised for less than the seller demands, the buyer may be unwilling to purchase the property. Here are some of the reasons why appraisal fees are essential:

  • It can determine the value of a property.
  • It can determine the amount of a loan.
  • Can assess the insurance coverage that is needed.
  • It can be used to determine the taxes owed on a property.

Here are some factors that can affect the cost of an appraisal:

  1. The location of the property
  2. The size of the property
  3. The complexity of the appraisal
  4. The experience of the appraiser
  5. The time of year
  6. The demand for appraisals

Closing Costs

Closing costs for conventional loans are around 3-6% of the amount. They vary depending on the lender, the type of loan, and the state where you buy a home. Some typical closing costs include:

  • Appraisal fee
  • Title insurance
  • Survey fee
  • Mortgage origination fee
  • Recording fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Homeowners Insurance
  • Property taxes

The Role of Escrow Accounts

An escrow is a savings account. Escrow accounts are required when taking out a conventional loan. The lender deposits funds into the account each month. The amount is based on the estimated annual property taxes, homeowners’ insurance, and mortgage insurance. The lender sends a statement detailing how much has been deposited and how it is used.

Escrow accounts protect the lender and the borrower. The lender knows the taxes and insurance will be paid on time. The borrower because a lump sum for these expenses is covered. If you sell the home, the account will be closed, and the money will be refunded. If you refinance, the account will be transferred to the new lender.

Mortgage Insurance and Costs

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

Lenders require private mortgage insurance (PMI) if borrowers put down less than 20% of the purchase price of a home. PMI protects the lender in case the borrower defaults.

PMI costs between 0.5% and 1% of the loan. It is paid along with the mortgage. Borrowers can cancel PMI once they have 20% equity. This can transpire through a combination of paying down the loan and appreciation of the home’s value. Here are some of the pros and cons of PMI:


  • It can help you get a mortgage without a 20% down payment.
  • Protects the lender in case of default.


  • It can be a significant expense.
  • This can make it challenging to afford the mortgage.
  • It can be difficult to cancel.

Strategies to Avoid PMI

  • Offer a larger down payment. The most effective way to avoid PMI as to lower the loan-to-value ratio.
  • Get a government-backed loan. FHA and VA loans do not require PMI as long as you meet eligibility requirements.
  • Find a lender that offers no-PMI options. Some lenders do not demand PMI for borrowers with good credit scores and low debt-to-income ratios.
  • Ask the lender if you can cancel PMI early. If your loan-to-value ratio drops below 80% after a few years, you can cancel PMI.

PMI can add hundreds of dollars to a mortgage. You will save money if you can avoid it.

Loan Repayment and Amortization

Loan Amortization

Loan amortization is the process of paying off a loan with regular payments. Each payment consists of principal and interest. The principal is the amount you borrowed, and the interest is the fee for borrowing the money. The amount, the interest rate, and the loan length determine the amount of each payment. Loan amortization can be calculated using the following formula:

Payment = Principal / (1 – (1 + r/n)^(-nt))


  • Payment is the monthly payment
  • Principal is the loan amount
  • r is the interest rate
  • n is the number of payments per year
  • t is the number of years

The first few loan payments will go toward interest, with a small amount toward principal. As the balance decreases, a significant portion of each payment will go toward the principal

There are two loan amortizations: simple interest and amortized interest. With the former, the interest is calculated on the principal balance. With amortized interest, the interest is calculated on the principal balance plus the interest paid. This means the interest payments increase over time. Amortized loans are more common than interest loans. 

The Impact of Loan Term on Total Costs

The loan term is the time you have to repay your loan. 

Benefits of Early Loan Repayment

  • Saving money on interest. The sooner you pay off the loan, the less interest will accrue over the loan’s life.
  • Building equity in your home. If you have a mortgage, paying it off allows you to build equity in your home sooner.
  • Improving your credit score. On-time payments and paying down debts can improve your credit score.
  • Gaining financial freedom. Being debt-free can give you financial freedom and allow you to manage your finances better.

However, other factors should be considered, such as:

  • Early repayment penalties. Some loans may have penalties, so read the terms before deciding.
  • Unexpected expenses. You may need to tap into your savings to cover expenses like a job loss or medical bill.
  • Investment opportunities. You may earn a higher return by investing your money elsewhere.

Comparing Conventional Loans with Others

Conventional loans are the most common mortgage. The government does not insure them, so they have higher interest rates. Here is a table comparing conventional loans with others:

Understanding the Cost of a Conventional Loan | Wesley Mortgage

When choosing a loan, compare the interest rates, down payment requirements, and limits to find the best option.

Pros and Cons of Conventional Loans vs. Jumbo Loans

Conventional loans are mortgages that the government does not insure. Jumbo loans exceed the conforming loan limit the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) set. Below are some pros and cons of conventional loans:


  • Easier to qualify for.
  • Lower interest rates.
  • More widely available.


  • Lower loan limits.
  • It may only be available in some areas.
  • It might have stricter requirements.

Here are some of the pros and cons of jumbo loans:


  • Allow you to borrow more.
  • It may be available in more regions.
  • May have more flexible requirements.


  • More difficult to qualify for.
  • Higher interest rates.
  • Not common.


The price of a conventional loan depends on many factors, including the amount, the interest rate, and the loan length. However, borrowers can keep costs down by getting pre-approved, comparing interest rates, and making a larger down payment. Here are some additional tips:

  • Consider a shorter loan term: A shorter loan term will mean higher payments, but you’ll pay less interest.
  • Pay down debts before applying: A lower debt-to-income ratio makes you a more attractive borrower and qualifies you for a lower interest rate.
  • Shop around for the best interest rate: Get quotes from multiple lenders.
  • Get pre-approved: This will show sellers you’re genuine and could help you negotiate a better price.
  • Make a larger down payment: The larger the down payment, the less you’ll borrow and the lower the expenses.

By following these tips, you can save money and get into the home of your dreams.

To learn more about conventional loans, contact Wesley Mortgage today!

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