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How do I go about finding a mortgage?

The commotion of house hunting is finally over. You found just the right house, and your offer has been accepted. It was a great buy. Now, just one more hurdle - getting a loan - and you're home free. Often, buyers are so eager to get this "final detail" behind them, they rush through this portion of the transaction, and end up with less-than-ideal terms. Borrowers, however, have something lenders want...their business. This positions them to negotiate the best possible price (cost of loan), terms and service. Let's look at price, or the cost of the loan. The first thing to do is find out what the current rates are, information readily available in your newspaper or from your real estate agent. When comparing rates, figure the annual percentage rate (APR), which includes interest, extra fees and costs amortized over the life of the loan. Also determine the number of points, if any, that the lender will charge to make the loan. (A point is equal to one percent of the loan amount.) Next, consider what loan options the lender offers. There are six or seven basic types of loans, which vary in their duration. Check how rates are calculated (fixed versus variable), and whether charges are fully amortized over the life of the loan, or whether you'll have to pay points up front and/or balloon payments at the end. Is there a prepayment penalty clause? Which terms are best for you depends on such factors as what changes you expect in your income, how long you plan to own the home, and what you predict will happen with loan rates in the years ahead. For example, if you only plan to reside in the home for a year or two, starting with a lower Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) might be the best choice. If you have no plans to move, and feel that inflation will rise rapidly, a fixed rate would obviously be better. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, consider speed and service. Buyers shouldn't have to wait days for approval and weeks for closing just because the lender is slow. Remember, qualified buyers are great prospects for lenders, so give your business to the lender who demonstrates they not only want it, they deserve it.

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