JPMorgan Chase and Co. is one of the nation’s oldest financial firms, tracing its roots to 1799 and the founding of the Bank of Manhattan Company. It bears the names of two of the most prominent firms in American banking history – J.P. Morgan and Chase Manhattan, which merged into a single company in 2000.
With $2.3 trillion in assets, it is ranked by Forbes magazine as the world’s largest publicly traded company. Despite the merger, it maintains two separate identities – the Chase brand for its consumer banking division, while the JP Morgan brand encompasses its investment banking and asset management operations.
The company ranks as the #3 mortgage bank in the United States, in both lending and mortgage servicing, trailing Wells Fargo and Bank of America, respectively, in both categories.
Mortgage Rates and Products
JP Morgan Chase offers a broad variety of mortgage products for both home purchases and mortgage refinancing. Fixed rate-mortgages are available in terms of 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 40 years. Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) are available with initial terms of 1, 3, 5, 7 and 10 years, fully amortizing over 10 to 40 years.
The lowest mortgage rates are available on the mortgages with the shortest terms; for example, interest rates on 15-year fixed-rate home loan are considerably lower than those on the 30-year mortgages. Interest rates on ARMs are usually even lower, since the rates are locked in for a shorter term, although once the initial term is over they regularly readjust to a new rate based on the current mortgage market.
A special Chase program for first-time homebuyers, called DreaMaker Mortgage, offers down payments as low as 5 percent on fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages of up to 40 years. Closing cost assistance may be available as well. Chase is also an authorized FHA lender, with fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages are available for both first-time and repeat homeowners.
Chase also offers jumbo loans, which are mortgages that exceed the limits for conforming loans backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Depending on where the property is located, those limits range from $417,000 to $729,750. Chase will make jumbo loans of up to $2 million; interest rates tend to run somewhat higher than on conforming loans.
One perk that Chase offers its customers is a 1 percent cash-back incentive for borrowers who sign up to have their mortgage payments automatically deducted from a Chase checking account. The incentive, up to $500 a year, can be paid out directly or deducted from mortgage principle. The option is only available at the loan closing and the borrower must have a Chase checking account set up at that time.
Refinancing a mortgage through Chase can enable a borrower to reduce their monthly payments, pay off their home loan faster or borrow against their home equity through a cash-out refinance. In most cases, you do not have to be a current Chase customer to refinance your mortgage through Chase.
For the most part, Chase mortgage refinance loans are identical to those offered for home purchasing. Both fixed- and adjustable-rate loans are available, over the same terms as those offered for home purchases. Often, the main difference is that instead of a down payment, the loan is partially secured by the borrower’s existing equity in the home.
The Chase 1 percent incentive for signing up for direct payments at the loan closing, described above, is available on refinanced mortgages as well.
For homeowners who normally would be unable to refinance because of a lack of equity in their homes, Chase is a participant in the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). This program, backed by the federal government, allows certain creditworthy borrowers who have little home equity or are even “underwater” on their mortgages – owing more than their home is worth – to refinance at lower rates. Borrowers may also extend their mortgage term to further reduce their monthly payments or shorten it to pay their mortgage off faster.
To qualify for HARP, borrowers must have a conforming mortgage owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Homeowners may need to be current Chase customers to obtain a HARP refinance through Chase. The program is set to expire at the end of 2013.
Home Equity Loans
Chase offers several options for homeowners who wish to borrow against their available home equity. This is often a popular choice for borrowers seeking money for home improvements, medical expenses, college costs, debt consolidation or other major expenses. Since home equity loans are a type of mortgage, the interest is typically tax-deductable, which offers an advantage over other types of loans.
A Chase home equity loan provides a lump sum of cash that is repaid over a period years at a fixed interest rates. Basically, it’s a second mortgage on your home. Interest rates tend to run somewhat higher than on a primary mortgage.
A Chase home equity line of credit (HELOC) makes money available as you need it. It works like a credit card secured with a portion of your home value as collateral. You can borrow small amounts as you need them, up to a pre-approved limit. Interest rates are lower than on a regular home equity loan and typically are variable. However, Chase allows you to lock in the rate on a portion of the money borrowed through a HELOC, with up to five separate locks allowed.
Another way to borrow against your home equity is with a Chase cash-out refinance. With this approach, you refinance your entire mortgage at a new interest rate, and take out some of your accumulated equity in the form of a cash payout. This offers the lowest interest rates of all home equity loan options and reduces the rate on your entire mortgage, so the savings can be considerable. However, the closing costs are typically much higher than on a home equity loan or HELOC.
Chase does not presently list reverse mortgages among its home equity products for borrowers.
The web site for mortgages and other consumer banking under the Chase brand is www.chase.com.
Customers seeking to inquire about a new loan or to refinance an existing one may call 800-873-6577 or visit a local Chase branch.
Calls about an existing loan or other customer care issues should be directed to 800-848-913.