A reader named Mary recently wrote in to ask about my thoughts on getting a mortgage from ING Direct. She’s heard that they have competitive rates and low fees, and is seriously thinking about refinancing her mortgage with them.
I don’t have any firsthand knowledge of ING Direct mortgages, but I was curious enough to go take a look. For starters, it doesn’t look like ING Direct offers traditional, fixed-rate mortgages. Instead, they offer a so-called “Easy Orange” mortgage as well as standard 5/1 and 7/1 adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs).
Inside the “Easy Orange” mortgage
The “Easy Orange” mortgage is a five year, fixed rate loan with monthly payments based on a 30 year payback period. Instead of making monthly payments, however, you make biweekly payments corresponding to half the monthly amount. This accelerates the repayment schedule, and helps you pay off your mortgage early.
At the end of five years, you can re-lock at the then-current rate for another five years. The downside here is that re-locking appears to cost the equivalent of two biweekly payments. The upfront lender costs are all wrapped up into $395 processing fee when you sign your original loan documents.
Inside the “Orange Mortgage”
The “Orange Mortgage” is an ARM that comes in two flavors — 5/1 or 7/1. In other words, the rates are initially fixed for five or seven years, after which time they adjust annually. As above, these loans are amortized over 30 years, and the total lender costs are wrapped up into a $395 processing fee.
Thoughts on ING Direct mortgages
Personally, I’m not crazy about ARMs. Instead, we’ve always used 15 or 30 year fixed-rate mortgages. While I’m aware of the arguments in favor of ARMs, I don’t like the uncertainty associated with them. This is especially true when rates are as low as they have been in recent years.
Speaking of rates, the Easy Orange loan had a 4.25% rate and the 5/1 and 7/1 ARMs were at 4.5% and 4.75%, respectively*. I just checked around, and these rates appear to be fairly competitive. Note, however, that these rates require a 75% loan-to-value (LTV) ratio or less. Thus, you’ll need to come up with a 25% down payment (or have at least 25% equity in the case of a refinance).
As I said above, I don’t have any firsthand experience with mortgages from ING Direct. This is where you come in… If you’ve ever borrowed from ING Direct, please weigh in. Likewise, if you’ve considered using them in the past, but decided against it, I’d like to hear why.
*Note: Rates as of 8/10/09.