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What You Need to Know About Your Mortgage

Jul 22, 2008
The nation is all a buzz with talk of the housing market, and chances are, you've seen foreclosures popping up all over the place--including your own neighborhood. It's not a short-term problem (foreclosure rates having been climbing for some time now), and people are beginning to investigate to determine who is really at fault. Who is really to blame--the mortgage industry, predatory lending schemes, the unsuspecting and uninformed homebuyer, or maybe a combination of the above? It's hard to say for certain, but fortunately there are ways to avoid becoming just another foreclosure statistic. Here are some tips on what to watch for and ways to stay on top of the mortgage game:

1. Do your homework.
As with any new project, doing your homework is important. Know what you're getting into before you jump aboard. Take the time to figure out what you can and can't afford, and find out what type of mortgage you think may or may not work for you.

2. Just say no... to ARMs.
ARMs, or "Adjustable Rate Mortgages" are, without exception, a horrible idea. It's a gimmick used to attract misinformed or unsuspecting buyers. Many legitimate lenders feel this type of loan should be illegal. Unless you're interested in higher mortgage rates and a loss in net worth, you should avoid this type of loan at all costs.

3. Understanding is key.
This is crucial. Simply put: if you aren't aware of what's going on during the entire home-buying, mortgage-shopping process, you are more likely to be taken advantage of. Talk to others who have been through the process and see if they have any pointers. Read up on the mortgage industry and know what's available to you. Surf the Web and see what you can find out about different lenders and mortgages. It may also be beneficial for you to work with a buyer's agent. A good agent will be willing and able to answer any questions that come up along the way and help you find a qualified lender.

4. Know what you can afford.
It's easy to get approved for a hefty loan. Far too easy, in fact. Don't let a lender tell you what you can afford. Instead, do the math yourself, and don't forget to account for homeowner's insurance and property taxes. Calculate your monthly cost and create a reasonable budget that you know you can stick to.

5. Fix your credit.
You should know months beforehand what your credit report looks like and what your FICO score is. Looking at your credit report in advance will help you nip inaccuracies in the bud and pay down any outstanding items that may be negatively impacting your score.
About the Author
Laura Watkins is a contributing business writer for Goliath. Goliath is one of the Internet's largest collections of business research, news and information. Learn more about Goliath.
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