Whether you’re a first time home buyer or you’re looking for refinancing information for your current home, the mortgage journey can feel complex and overwhelming. In fact, search interest in “how to buy a house” reached an all-time high in May 2020 in the U.S. and search interest in refinancing reached an all-time high in March. There are several questions to ask and factors to consider, like costs, rates, timing and loan options. According to Google Trends, the most searched mortgage-related questions in the past year in the U.S. are: What is a mortgage? What is PMI? Should I refinance? What is APR? What is escrow?
Buying a house is a big financial decision and having clear, trustworthy information is important. To help people better understand the mortgage process, we collaborated with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to create a new mobile experience in Search. When you search for “mortgage” on your phone, you’ll find a feature that breaks down the complex mortgage process into easy-to-follow steps to help guide you, wherever you may be in the process. It also connects you to a set of useful resources, including news articles, industry definitions and terms, a calculator to assist with payment plans and average mortgage rates. And for those looking for relief and refinance information, we’ll show some of the options available to you.
Learn the lingo
First, even understanding the terminology behind mortgages can be challenging. That’s why the overview shows key concepts and definitions, like annual percentage rate, adjustable mortgage rate, or appraisal fee, used in the mortgage industry. You can also filter by relevant categories to make the search even easier. And if you select the information button ("i") throughout the feature, you’ll find additional tips to help you calculate payments or affordability.
The mortgage journey
For those looking for insights on how to get started or preparing to close, we collaborated with the CFPB to surface the key steps involved in getting a mortgage under the process section. No matter what phase of the journey you’re on, you can select a step to find a list of relevant documents and helpful tips from the CFPB. And to help you determine the next phase, you'll find a list of popular and recommended next steps to guide you on the way.
Calculate your estimated payments
Once you’re ready to begin calculating your monthly payments or purchase budget, you can use the mortgage calculator to quickly estimate your options, with or without taxes, based on current average mortgage rates. Set your parameters, such as location, credit score, and loan term to see what payment plan makes the most sense for your situation.
Find and compare mortgage rates
To provide more context about the current industry rates, we added a “mortgage rates” section to the feature. You’ll see a breakdown of the average mortgage rates in the market and a graph with daily granularity on rates. You can also compare up to five selected fixed-rate and ARM mortgage plans to understand the options you may have at a variety of rates. This can also be filtered by your location, down payment, credit score and more.
For those impacted by the recent economic downturn searching for mortgage relief or if you are wanting to refinance your current home, we added relief and refinance information from the CFPB and the web to help you explore what options are available to you.
Buying a home can be among the most important financial decisions in your life, and having clear, trustworthy information is important. Even though the process can be challenging and it’s a big commitment, we hope these new features can help you find the right path for you.