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Mortgage Loan Accounting

The accounting for amortized home loans assumes that there are only 12 days in a year,
consisting of the first day of each month. Your account begins on the first day of the
month following the day your loan closes. You pay "interim interest" for the period
between the closing day and the day your record begins. Your first monthly payment is
due on the first day of the month after that.

For example, if your 6% 30-year $100,000 loan closes on March 15, you pay interest at
closing for the period March 15-April 1, and your first payment of $599.56 is due May 1.
The payment is allocated between interest and reduction in the loan balance. The
interest payment is calculated by multiplying 1/12 of the interest rate times the loan
balance in the previous month. 1/12 of .06 is .005. The interest due May 1, therefore, is .
005 times $100,000 or $500. The remaining $99.56 is used to reduce the balance to
$99,900.44.

The process repeats each month, but the portion of the payment allocated to interest
gradually declines while the portion used to reduce the loan balance gradually rises. On
June 1, the interest due is .005 times $99,900.44, or $499.51. The amount available for
reducing the balance rises to $100.06.

While the payment is due on the first day of each month, lenders allow borrowers a
"grace period", which is usually 15 days. A payment received on the 15th is treated
exactly in the same way as a payment received on the 1 st. A payment received after the
15th, however, is assessed a late charge equal to 4 or 5% of the payment.

When borrowers elect to increase the amount of their payment, the increment reduces
the balance by the same amount. For example, if the borrower paid $699.56 on May 1,
the balance would drop by an additional $100 to $99,700.38, which in turn would reduce
the interest due in June to $498.51.

Extra payments that are made later in the month might have the same effect, or might
not be credited until the following month, depending on the lender. To be credited within
the same month, extra payments have to be received before the Nth day of the month,
but N varies from one lender to another.

These rules are advantageous to many, perhaps most borrowers because of the
backdating of payments to the first day of the month. Thus, the borrower who pays
$599.56 on May 15 has the use of $599.56 free of interest for 15 days. The same is true
of extra payments received before the Nth day of the month.

However, the major problem is the absolute rigidity of the payment requirement. Skip a
single payment and you accumulate late charges until you make it up. If you skip May,
for example, you make it up with 2 payments in June plus one late charge, and you
record a 30-day delinquency report in your credit file. If you can’t make it up until July,
the price is 3 payments plus 2 late charges plus a 60-day delinquency report in your
credit file. Falling behind can be a slippery slope into foreclosure.

Payment rigidity also prevents many borrowers from organizing their personal finances
in the best way. Some examples:
Borrower A wanted to use a bequest to reduce the monthly payment on a fixed-rate
mortgage. No way. If A used the bequest to prepay principal, it would shorten the period
to term, not reduce the payment.

Borrower B wanted to use a bequest to reduce the term on an adjustable rate mortgage.
No way. If B used the bequest to prepay principal, it would reduce the payment, not
shorten the term.

Borrower C wanted to double his payment in December when he receives his bonus and
skip a payment in August when he has no income. No way. If C used the extra payment
in December to prepay principal, he still had to make the payment for August.

Borrower D is paid twice a month and wanted to make his mortgage payment twice a
month. No way. Borrower D must bank his mid-month payment and pay the lender once
a month.