Although mortgage calculators are infinitely useful for testing how different loan amounts, rates, and terms would impact your payments, the actual amount you’ll owe the bank each month will likely be hundreds of dollars more than what the calculator spits out.
That’s because most mortgage lenders require an escrow account to collect money from you throughout the year for the annual – and often hefty – bills of property tax and homeowner’s insurance (and private mortgage insurance- if your loan requires it).
But do you have to escrow? Is saving the money on your own and taking responsibility for making those once-a-year payments an available option? For some borrowers, it is. But even if you can opt out of escrowing, you may not want to.
With some mortgages, you’ll have no choice. All FHA loans require an escrow account, as do most VA loans. Many conventional mortgages require escrowing, too, especially if you make a down payment below 20 percent.
But even when it’s not mandatory, many homeowners opt to escrow because they like the savings discipline it imposes, the predictability of a monthly “all-in” payment, and the convenience of the bank handling their tax and insurance bills.
You may feel confident you can save for these large yearly bills on your own, though. Or maybe you have an irregular income. That’s when a non-escrow mortgage might make sense. You’ll have to ask for it, and it’ll probably cost you a waiver fee or a higher interest rate. But you can offset this with interest earned on your savings during the year.
In the end, the right choice will depend on a combination of factors that include your savings personality, your interest in handling tax and insurance on your own, and how much your lender will charge you for the non-escrow privilege.