As a leader in real estate, I am repeatedly asked specific questions about today's market – especially in today's economy. In an effort to provide more information to my community, I commited to providing current information that everyone may find useful. Here are the ways you can protect yourself from fraud….
Many of the challenges homeowners and home buyers are confronting today are the result of unscrupulous mortgages extended over the past several years. Help protect yourself during the home buying process with these tips from the American Homeowners Foundation and the American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance, www.AmericanHomeowners.org, or in Canada, with tips found at www.genworth.ca:
1. Deal only with reputable mortgage bankers or mortgage brokers. Get recommendations from neighbors and friends who dealt with them as customers. Check on the mortgagor’s record with the local Better Business Bureau and state licensing authority. As a Member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, I can also provide you with many credible mortgage resources.
2. Ask how long they have been in the business, and be wary of working with someone with less than five years experience, no matter how reputable their employer may be.
3. Unlike professional real estate agents like myself, mortgagors owe you no fiduciary duty. While it is in the long-term interest of mortgage lenders and brokers to treat consumers fairly, for many, that doesn’t stand in the way of charging higher fees or interest rates. Always get quotes from at least three mortgage lenders and/or brokers, and make sure each one knows you are doing so.
4. Since you’ll be providing them the most comprehensive personal financial information you’ll ever provide any company, ask the lender to describe their data security policies, both online and offline.
5. To reduce the likelihood of overpaying for a home, make sure that you review recent selling prices for similar homes in the same neighborhood before you make an offer. I can provide you with a detailed analysis of the homes in our communities.
6. Set aside some extra money for closing costs. One of the vexations of real estate financing are the differences in estimated settlement costs on the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) forms, and the actual settlement costs, which very often include several hundred additional dollars worth of previously undisclosed and creatively named fees.
7. Pick the right kind of mortgage. Interest rates are higher on 30 year fixed rate loans than on 15 year fixed rate loans. Adjustable rate mortgages are always a gamble. You may well save money over the first few years if interest rates are dropping, but predicting their direction further out is very speculative. Prepayment penalties can more than offset any savings if the rates go up after that and you want to refinance.
8. Get pre-approved for your loan. Even though there is a glut of homes for sale in most areas right now, a mortgage loan pre-approval is essential to many sellers, and gives a big negotiating advantage to buyers in almost all cases.
9. It is important to review loan documents in advance and understand all the terms. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Try to avoid loans with prepayment penalties if at all possible.
10. Save all the copies of all documents you receive and/or provide mortgage lenders or brokers.