What Is a Loan Level Price Adjustment (LLPA)?

15, May, 2023

A loan-level price adjustment (LLPA) is a risk-based fee assessment that lenders may apply to risky borrowers using a conventional mortgage. LLPAs are determined by looking at the borrower’s credit score, loan-to-value ratio, debt-to-income ratio, loan type and other factors. These fees can increase the mortgage payment since they are added to the interest rate of a loan and can vary depending on the lender and loan characteristics.

LLPAs are applied to conventional loans, so when you’re in the process of buying a home it’s crucial to understand the various fees and costs associated with the purchase. Whether you’re purchasing your first home or an investment property, having a clear idea of the kinds of fees you might potentially have to pay will help you plan out the best purchase possible. When evaluating mortgage rates and interest rates, factors such as loan-level pricing adjustments can be a significant determining factor. That’s why it’s important to ensure that you understand what loan-level pricing adjustment is and how it works so that you’re able to identify the best loan program for you based on your specific circumstances.

How Do Loan-Level Price Adjustments Work?

Loan-level pricing adjustments refer to adjustments on the cost of a mortgage loan. LLPAs were introduced by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to mitigate borrower and loan risk in the conventional mortgage lending space.

As government-sponsored enterprises that purchase mortgages from lenders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, LLPAs were introduced to reduce lenders' fees by passing them on to the borrower in specific circumstances, thereby enabling them to offer more mortgages without overexposure to risk.

Couple at home discusses what a loan level price adjustment is while sitting at computer.

However, offering more mortgages also means that there needs to be measures in place to manage risk effectively for borrowers. LLPAs are usually reflected in the form of higher interest rates for mortgages.

LLPAs are used to adjust pricing for high-risk borrowers, as they pay a higher mortgage rate if they trigger specific risk characteristics during the mortgage assessment process. It protects borrowers that present a ‘safer’ risk profile while adjusting the prices higher for those considered ‘risky’ buyers based on lender evaluation criteria. However, how lenders determine risk, and therefore LLPAs, is dependent on a variety of measures.

How is an LLPA Calculated?

Essentially, loan-level price adjustments are determined by lenders, and borrowers are assessed across a few areas during the mortgage application process. Each lender may have a different weight applied to the criteria, but LLPAs are determined by looking at the borrower’s credit score, loan-to-value ratio, and debt-to-income ratio.

Other traits of the loan that may lead to loan-level pricing adjustments are whether it’s an investment property, a multi-unit home, a cash-out refinance based on the loan-to-value ratio, or a mortgage with a small percentage of equity. If all four are present, LLPAs are put in place.

However, it’s important to note that over a dozen risk characteristics are in place, and borrowers will likely have at least one risk characteristic. LLPAs come into play when there are multiple risk characteristics presented in a borrower, but again, it will depend on which risk characteristics are more important than others to the lenders.

There are very few scenarios where LLPA is not in place - e.g., someone with an 800+ credit score purchasing a single-family home with 10% down. Otherwise, there is usually some form of LLPA being applied to the loan, but it’s adjusted based on what is considered ‘risky’ by the lender based on the various factors mentioned.

Do LLPA's Apply to All Loans?

LLPAs do not apply to all loans. They are fees assessed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for conventional loans only. They do not apply to other types of loans, such as FHA loans, VA loans, or USDA loans.

If you’re purchasing multi-unit homes, have a low down payment amount, and/or have a lower credit score, LLPAs will likely be applied if you opt for a conventional loan. Therefore, it is worth exploring options such as non-conventional loans or alternatives, such as FHA loans, rather than conventional loans to avoid paying a large LLPA.

How did Loan Level Pricing Adjustment changed in 2023

Starting May 1, 2023 loan-level price adjustments underwent a major change. This adjustment was an attempt to make sure that lending is fair and safe for both lenders and borrowers as a reaction to shifts in economic conditions.

Depending on the financial situation of a borrower, interest rates on their loans may go up or down because of these new rules. For those with lower credit scores, these changes may have a more significant impact. In this new LLPA fee structure, lower-income households with lower credit scores may have closing costs reduced and help with affordability.

Borrowers with higher credit scores may not see as much of an impact from these changes. While initial reports of these changes caused concerns that there would be an unfair balance towards those with higher credit scores, further clarification has limited negative feedback.

For mortgage lenders, these adjustments may result in revised pricing models for loan products. They may also reassess their risk assessment processes.

CrossCountry Mortgage Loan Officers

Borrowers should be aware of LLPA and its impact of the LLPA on their loan and budget, as this fee can add an additional cost to the loan and make it more difficult for the borrower to afford the repayment amount. LLPA is not only necessary when budgeting for the loan, but it should also be a factor when seeking out the best loan terms.

Different lenders may offer different loan terms and rates, which can significantly affect the total cost of the loan. Additionally, lenders can offer competitive rates and offers for borrowers with good credit scores and/or where major risk factors are not present.

When evaluating options to obtain a loan, it is essential to factor LLPA into your total costs to understand its impact on what you will have to pay. In addition, risk assessments vary across lenders, so comparing all your options is crucial to see how LLPAs could impact your total budget and payments.

That is why it is vital to work with expert mortgage loan officers such as CrossCountry Mortgage loan officers to help you find the best options. Working with a mortgage loan officer can be immensely beneficial as they can help you navigate lending options and eligibility criteria to help you find the right home loan for your needs.