In a recent article appearing on IndyStar.com*, it was reported that Indiana and Ohio lead the nation in the number of home mortgage foreclosures. As the article describes, there are many reasons for the high mortgage foreclosure rate. Regardless of the reason, one key to avoiding this situation is proper mortgage planning. Unexpected medical expenses or the loss of a job are likely beyond your control, however, you can control the decision regarding your next mortgage. Making an informed and educated decision regarding a mortgage refinancing, second mortgage, or home purchase loan will help you avoid trouble. Remember the following the next time you are shopping for a mortgage.
Think Independently – Most children have heard this sage advice… “If your friend jumps off a cliff, are you going to jump, too?”…essentially meaning “think for yourself.” That same philosophy applies when talking to your loan officer. Just because he/she states that you qualify for a certain mortgage refinancing, second mortgage, or home purchase loan amount does not mean you should accept the loan. Compared to a few years ago, today’s lending guidelines accept higher debt to income ratios and/or reduced income documentation, which allows more mortgages to be approved. Remember, you are the one who must make the mortgage payment, not the loan officer. If you are not comfortable with the payment, do not accept the loan.
Understand Your Mortgage – It is imperative that you understand the terms of the new mortgage refinancing, second mortgage, or home purchase loan you are considering. You need to know the following:
1) Is the mortgage a fixed or variable interest rate?
2) Is the mortgage interest only, deferred interest, or fully amortizing?
3) Is there a prepayment penalty?
4) Are there any balloon features to the new mortgage?
5) Are the property taxes and homeowners insurance included in the mortgage payment?
If your loan officer is elusive or gives vague answers to these or any other questions, find a new loan officer
Shop – Consult with two or three loan officers about your mortgage refinance, second mortgage, or home purchase loan. You will find a wide range of knowledge and ability among loan officers. At the same time, working with more than three will often lead to information overload. Along with comparing interest rates and closing costs, consider your loan officer’s integrity, knowledge, and experience.
These guidelines are simple and common sense ideas, but are often forgotten during the excitement and emotion of completing a home purchase loan, mortgage refinancing, or second mortgage.