A warm, friendly, and most importantly unbiased place to learn about mortgages, ideally before you make contact with a real estate agent or lender. The more you know, the better you’ll feel, and hopefully all that hard work will help you snag a lower mortgage rate too! So what are you waiting for? Let's go! View all mortgage help topics to get started or check out the latest mortgage tips and news below.
You should know where your credit score stands before you start looking for a home or begin the mortgage process. Even if you think you have perfect credit, there may be issues or mistakes on your credit report that you are not aware of. A mistake on your credit report can seriously cost you in the long run. If your credit is less than perfect, you can work to build up your credit and hold off on buying a home until your credit has improved, or you can apply for an FHA loan. FHA-insured loans are less risky for lenders, allowing them to offer more lenient qualification standards. Because FHA loan programs offer easier qualifying guidelines than many other loan types, they can be a good option for borrowers who have poor credit.
Union Plus provides mortgage assistance to union and organized labor members. Their immediate family members are also eligible. Short and long term assistance can be provided to people who are struggling with their mortgage and paying for other housing expenses. Some members may even receive cash or some form of grant for paying their mortgage. Continue with Union Plus foreclosure and mortgage assistance.
Short sale can be an alternative to a foreclosure, and it will allow you to sell your home for less than the current outstanding mortgage balance on it. While this can be a drawn out process and take time, this option is becoming more common and acceptable by banks, real estate agents and servicers. Learn more on how short sales can stop foreclosures.

Home equity lines of credit work differently than home equity loans. Rather than offering a fixed sum of money upfront that immediately acrues interest, lines of credit act more like a credit card which you can draw on as needed & pay back over time. This means that the bank will approve to borrow up to a certain amount of your home, but your equity in the home stands as collateral for the loan. The interest rates are lower than they would be with a credit card. Often home equity loans have a variable interest rate that will change according to market conditions.
Start by asking someone you know who has recently gotten a mortgage to see if they would recommend their lender. Ask a financial adviser, business colleague or real estate agent you know to help you write a short list of referrals. An agent should be able to provide you at least two options. Anything less, and you might question whether there’s a financial interest in the relationship between the agent and the mortgage company they suggest. Often national lenders referred by agents end up offering higher interest rates when compared to local mortgage companies.
Short sale can be an alternative to a foreclosure, and it will allow you to sell your home for less than the current outstanding mortgage balance on it. While this can be a drawn out process and take time, this option is becoming more common and acceptable by banks, real estate agents and servicers. Learn more on how short sales can stop foreclosures.
A few years ago (see above), if you were breathing it seemed like you could find a mortgage. Things are a little bit tighter now. The biggest factor is your debt to income ratio. It’s your minimum monthly debt divided by your monthly income. But don’t worry. You don’t have to do the math! There’s a handy DTI calculator that will figure it out for you and estimate how much you’re likely to qualify for.

When you apply for a mortgage, you will need to provide your lender with a number of financial documents. Having these documents already assembled will help accelerate the processing of your loan application. At a minimum, you should be prepared to provide your last two pay stubs, your most recent W-2, your last two years of tax returns, and current bank and brokerage statements.

The major downside of taking out a mortgage is that it does put your home at risk if you fail to make payments. You may want to look into other options if you want to consolidate your debt. Some people choose to refinance their original mortgage to cash out their equity and to avoid two mortgage payments. When they refinance, they cash out the equity or take out more than they still owe on the loan. Like a traditional mortgage, refinancing has set monthly payments and a term that shows when you will have the loan paid off.


When the fixed rate period ends, you’ll usually be automatically transferred onto your lender’s standard variable rate, which will typically be higher than any special deal you’ve been on. At this point you’ll see your interest payments increase. However, you will be free to remortgage to a new mortgage deal, which may help keep your payments down.
National policy favors homebuyers via the tax code (although less than it previously did). For many families the right home purchase is the best way to build an asset for their retirement nest egg. Also, if you can refrain from cash-out refinancing, the home you buy at age 30 with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage will be fully paid off by the time you reach normal retirement age, giving you a low-cost place to live when your earnings taper off.
Once a Servicer is notified that a borrower is conditionally approved for mortgage assistance from a HFA, they must not refer the mortgage to foreclosure or schedule or conduct the foreclosure sale for 45 days. (Foreclosure actions are suspended unless the HFA notifies the Servicer the borrower has been determined ineligible for assistance.) Servicers must suspend the foreclosure referral or sale for a longer period of time if it is required by state law. Servicers may also postpone a foreclosure referral or sale exceeding  45 days if needed to facilitate the processing of mortgage assistance and receipt of funds, provided the Servicer follows up with the HFA on a regular basis to determine:
Fixed rates and adjustable rates are the most common types of mortgages. Over 90% of US mortgages are fixed rate loans. A second mortgage works the same as a first mortgage, allowing a borrower to take out a lump sum of money and then make monthly payments to pay it back. You can use the second mortgage to make repairs on your house, to consolidate your bills, or to help with the down payment on the first mortgage to avoid needing to pay PMI.
Lenders use the information you provide at the time of application for loan approval or denial. If you get approved, don’t change your employment or income status until after the loan process is complete. Changing your employment or income during the process will significantly delay the lending process at best, and at worst, it could cause you to be denied for your loan altogether.
This example is based on Anne, the youngest borrower who is 68 years old, a variable rate HECM loan with an initial interest rate of 4.032% (which consists of a Libor index rate of 1.782% and a margin of 2.250%). It is based on an appraised value of $300,000, origination charges of $5,000, a mortgage insurance premium of $6,000, other settlement costs of $2,688, and a mortgage payoff of $35,000; amortized over 193 months, with total finance charges of $51,714.48 and an annual percentage rate of 4.53%. Interest rates may vary.
This seemed to be the thinking a few years ago, and things didn’t turn out very well. When you borrow more than you can realistically pay, that’s a sub-prime mortgage. Banks sold a lot of those to people who assumed the housing market would keep rising like gangbusters. Their home values would go up, giving them nearly instant equity and they could refinance quickly at a lower rate or sell the home for a quick profit. Lenders sold these loan products because they were making the same bet, and interest rates are always higher on sub-prime loans. Even if some ended up in foreclosure, the lenders would still make a tidy profit. Unfortunately, it was a bad bet for almost everyone.
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What I want to do with this video is explain what a mortgage is but I think most of us have a least a general sense of it. But even better than that actually go into the numbers and understand a little bit of what you are actually doing when you’re paying a mortgage, what it’s made up of and how much of it is interest versus how much of it is actually paying down the loan. So, let’s just start with a little example. Let’s say that there is a house that I like, let’s say that that is the house that I would like to purchase. It has a price tag of, let’s say that I need to pay $500,000 to buy that house, this is the seller of the house right here. And they have a mustache, that’s the seller of the house. I would like to buy it. I would like to buy the house. This is me right here. And I’ve been able to save up $125,000. I’ve been able to save up $125,000 but I would really like to live in that house so I go to a bank, I go to a bank, get a new color for the bank, so that is the bank right there. And I say, Mr. Bank, can you lend me the rest of the amount I need for that house, which is essentially $375,000. I’m putting 25 percent down, this right, this right, this number right here, that is 25 percent of $500,000. So, I ask the bank, can I have a loan for the balance? Can I have a $375,000 loan? And the bank says, sure, you seem like, uh, uh, a nice guy with a good job who has a good credit rating. I will give you the loan but while you’re paying off the loan you can’t have the title of that house. We have to have that title of the house and once you pay off the loan we’re going to give you the title of the house. So what’s going to happen here is we’re going to have the loan is going to go to me, so it’s $375,000, $375,000 loan. Then I can go and buy the house, so I’m going to give the total of $500,000, $500,000 to the seller of the house and I’ll actually move into the house myself, assuming I’m using it for my own residence. But the title of the house, the document that says who actually owns the house, so this is the home title, this is the title of the house, home, home title. It will not go to me. It will go to the bank, the home title will go from the seller, maybe even the seller’s bank, maybe they haven’t paid off their mortgage, it will go to the bank that I’m borrowing from. And this transferring of the title to secure a loan, I say secure a loan, I’m saying, look, I need to give something to the lender in case I don’t pay back the loan or if I just disappear. So, this is the security right here. That is technically what a mortgage is. This pledging of the title for, as the, as the security for the loan, that’s what a mortgage is. And actually it comes from old French, mort, means dead, dead, and the gage, means pledge, I’m, I’m a hundred percent sure I’m mispronouncing it, but it comes from dead pledge. Because, I’m pledging it now but that pledge will eventually die once I pay off the loan. Once I pay off the loan this pledge of the title to the bank will die, it’ll come back to me. And that’s why it’s called a dead pledge or a mortgage. And probably because it comes from old French is the reason why we don’t say mort gage. We say, mortgage. But anyway, this is a little bit technical but normally when people refer to a mortgage they’re really referring to the loan itself. They’re really referring to the mortgage, mortgage, the mortgage loan. And what I want to do in the rest of this video is use a little screenshot from a spreadsheet I made to actually show you the math or actually show you what your mortgage payment is going to. And you can download, you can download this spreadsheet at Khan Academy, khanacademy.org/downloads, downloads, slash mortgage calculator, mortgage, or actually, even better, just go to the download, just go to the downloads, downloads, uh, folder on your web browser, you’ll see a bunch of files and it’ll be the file called mortgage calculator, mortgage calculator, calculator dot XLSX. So, it’s a Microsoft 2007 format. But just go to this URL and then you’ll see all of the files there and then you can just download this file if you want to play with it. But what it does here is in this kind of dark brown color, these are the assumptions that you could input and that you can change these cells in your spreadsheet without breaking the whole spreadsheet. So, here I would assume the 5.5 percent interest rate. I’m buying a $500,000 home. It’s a 25 percent down payment, so that’s the $125,000 that I had saved up, that I’d talked about right over there. And then the, uh, loan amount, well, I have the $125,000, I’m going to have to borrow $375,000. It calculates it for us and then I’m going to get a pretty plain vanilla loan. This is going to be a 30-year, so when I say term in years, this is how long the loan is for. So, 30 years, it’s going to be a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, fixed rate, fixed rate, which means the interest rate won’t change. We’ll talk about that in a little bit. This 5.5 percent that I am paying on my, on the money that I borrowed will not change over the course of the 30 years. We will see that the amount I borrowed changes as I pay down some of the loan. Now, this little tax rate that I have here, this is to actually figure out, what is the tax savings of the interest deduction on my loan? And we’ll talk about that in a second, we can ignore it for now. And then these other things that aren’t in brown, you shouldn’t mess with these if you actually do open up this spreadsheet yourself. These are automatically calculated and this right here is a monthly interest rate. So, it’s literally the annual interest rate, 5.5 percent, divided by 12 and most mortgage loans are compounded on an monthly basis. So, at the end of every month they see how much money you owe and then they will charge you this much interest on that for the month. Now, given all of these assumptions, there’s a little bit of behind the scenes math and in a future video I might actually show you how to calculate what the actual mortgage payment is. It’s actually a pretty interesting problem. But for a $500,000 loan, well, a $500,000 house, a $375,000 loan over 30 years at a 5.5 percent interest rate. My mortgage payment is going to be roughly $2,100. Now, right when I bought the house I want to introduce a little bit of vocabulary and we’ve talked about this in some of the other videos. There’s an asset in question right here, it’s called a house. And we’re assuming that it’s worth $500,000. We are assuming that it’s worth $500,000. That is an asset. It’s an asset because it gives you future benefit, the future benefit of being able to live in it. Now, there’s a liability against that asset, that’s the mortgage loan, that’s the $375,000 liability, $375,000 loan or debt. So, if you are, if this was your balance sheet. If this was all of your assets and this is all of your debt and if you were essentially to sell the assets and pay off the debt. If you sell the house you’d get the title, you can get the money and then you pay it back to the bank. Then, well actually, it doesn’t necessarily go into that order but I won’t get too technical. But if you were to unwind this transaction immediately after doing it then you would have, you would have a $500,000 house, you’d pay off your $375,000 in debt and you would get in your pocket $125,000, which is exactly what your original down payment was but this is your equity. And the reason why I’m pointing it out now is I’m, in this video I’m not going to assume anything about the house price, whether it goes up or down, we’re assuming it’s constant. But you could not assume it’s constant and play with the spreadsheet a little bit. But I, what I would, I’m introducing this because as we pay down the debt this number is going to get smaller. So, this number is getting smaller, let’s say at some point this is only $300,000, then my equity is going to get bigger. So, you can kind of view equity as how much value do you have after you pay off the debt for your house? If you were to sell the house, pay off the debt, what do you have left over for yourself? So, this is really kind of your, this is the real wealth in the house, the owner is, this is what you own, wealth in house or the actual what the owner has. Now, what I’ve done here is, well, actually before I get to the chart, let me actually show you how I calculate the chart and I do this over the course of 30 years and it goes by month. So, so you can imagine that there’s actually 360 rows here on the actual spreadsheet and you’ll see that if you go and open it up. But I just want to show you what I did. So, on month zero, which I don’t show here, you borrowed $375,000. Now, over the course of that month they’re going to charge you 0.46 percent interest, remember that was 5.5 percent divided by 12. 0.46 percent interest on $375,000 is $1,718.75. So, I haven’t made any mortgage payments yet. So, I’ve borrowed $375,000, this much interest essentially got billed up on top of that, it got accrued. So, now before I pay any of my payments, instead of owing $375,000 at the end of the first month I owe $376,718. Now, I’m a good guy, I’m not going to default on my mortgage so I make that first mortgage payment that we calculated, that we calculated right over here. So, after I make that payment then I’m essentially, what’s my loan balance after making that payment? Well, this was before making the payment so you subtract the payment from it, this is my loan balance after the payment. Now, this right here, what I, little asterisk here, this is my equity now. So, remember, I started with $125,000 of equity. After paying one loan balance, after, after my first payment I now have $125,410 in equity. So, my equity has gone up by exactly $410. Now, you’re probably saying, hey, gee, I made a $2,000 payment, a roughly a $2,000 payment and my equity only went up by $410,000. Shouldn’t this debt have gone down by $2,000 and my equity have gone up by $2,000? And the answer is no, because you had to pay off all of this interest, all of this interest. So, that very, in the beginning, your payment, your $2,000 payment is mostly interest. Only $410 of it is principal. But as you, and then you, and then, so as your loan balance goes down you’re going to pay less interest here and so each of your payments are going to be more weighted towards principal and less weighted towards interest. And then to figure out the next line, this interest accrued right here, I took my, your old, your loan balance exiting the last month multiply that times 0.46 percent and you get this new interest accrued. This is your new prepayment balance. I pay my mortgage again. This is my new loan balance. And notice, already by month two, $2.00 more went to principal and $2.00 less went to interest. And over the course of 360 months you’re going to see that it’s an actual, sizable difference. And that’s what this chart shows us right here. This is the interest and principal portions of our mortgage payment. So, this entire height right here, this is, let me scroll down a little bit, this is by month. So, this entire height, if you notice, this is the exact, this is exactly our mortgage payment, this $2,129. Now, on that very first month you saw that of my $2,100 only $400 of it, this is the $400, only $400 of it went to actually pay down the principal, the actual loan amount. The rest of it went to pay down interest, the interest for that month. Most of it went for the interest of the month. But as I start paying down the loan, as the loan balance gets smaller and smaller, each of my payments, there’s less interest to pay, let me do a better color than that. There is less interest, let’s say if we go out here, this is month 198, over there, that last month there was less interest so more of my $2,100 actually goes to pay off the loan. Until we get all the way to month 360 and you can show, see this in the actual spreadsheet, at month 360 my final payment is all going to pay off the principal, very little if anything of that is interest. Now, the last thing I want to talk about in this video without making it too long is this idea of a interest tax deduction. So, a lot of times you’ll hear financial planners or realtors tell you, hey, the benefit of buying your house is that it, it’s, it has tax advantages, and it does. Your interest is tax-deductible. Your interest, not your whole payment. Your interest is tax deductible, deductible. And I want to be very clear with what deductible means. So, let’s for instance, talk about the interest fees. So, this whole time over 30 years I am paying $2,100 a month or $2,129.29 a month. Now, at the beginning a lot of that is interest. So, on month one, $1,700 of that was interest. That $1,700 is tax-deductible. Now, as we go further and further each month I get a smaller and smaller tax-deductible portion of my actual mortgage payment. Out here the tax deduction is actually very small. As I’m getting ready to pay off my entire mortgage and get the title of my house. Now, I want to be very clear on this notion of what tax-deductible even means ‘cause I think it is misunderstood very often. This doesn’t mean, let’s say that, let’s say in one year, let’s say in one year I paid, I don’t know, I’m going to make up a number, I didn’t calculate it on the spreadsheet. Let’s say in year one, year one, I pay, I pay $10,000 in interest, $10,000 in interest. Remember, my actual payments will be higher than that because some of my payments went to actually paying down the loan. And, but let’s say $10,000 went to interest. To say this deductible, and let’s say before this, let’s say before this I was making $100,000. Let’s put the loan aside, let’s say I was making $100,000 a year and let’s say I was paying roughly 35 percent on that $100,000. I won’t go into the whole, uh, tax structure and the, and the different brackets and all of that. Let’s say, you know, if I didn’t have this mortgage I would pay 35 percent taxes which would be about $35,000 in taxes for that year. Just, this is just a rough estimate. Now, when you say that $10,000 is tax-deductible, the interest is tax-deductible, that does not mean that I can just take it from the $35,000 that I would have normally owed and only paid $25,000. What it means is, I can deduct this amount from my income. So, when I tell the IRS how much did I make this year, instead of saying, I made $100,000 I say that I made $90,000 because I was able to deduct this, not directly from my taxes, I was able to deduct it from my income. So, now if I only made $90,000 and I, and this is I’m doing a gross oversimplification of how taxes actually get calculated. And I paid 35 percent of that, let’s get the calculator out. Let’s get the calculator. So, 90 times .35 is equal to $31,500. So, this will be equal to $31,500, put a comma here, $31,500. So, off of a $10,000 deduction, $10,000 of deductible interest, I essentially saved $3,500. I did not save $10,000. So, another way to think about it if I paid $10,000 interest, I’m going to, and my tax rate is 35 percent, I’m going to save 35 percent of this in actual taxes. This is what people mean when they say deductible. You’re deducting it from the income that you report to the IRS. If there’s something that you could actually take straight from your taxes, that’s called a tax credit. So, if you were, uh, if there was some special thing that you could actually deduct it straight from your credit, from your taxes, that’s a tax credit, tax credit. But a deduction just takes it from your income. And so, in this spreadsheet I just want to show you that I actually calculated in that month how much of a tax deduction do you get. So, for example, just off of the first month you paid $1,700 in interest of your $2,100 mortgage payment. So, 35 percent of that, and I got the 35 percent as one of your assumptions, 35 percent of $1,700. I will save $600 in taxes on that month. So, roughly over the course of the first year I’m going to save about $7,000 in taxes, so that’s nothing, nothing to sneeze at. Anyway, hopefully you found this helpful and I encourage you to go to that spreadsheet and, uh, play with the assumptions, only the assumptions in this brown color unless you really know what you’re doing with the spreadsheet. And you can see how the, this actually changes based on different interest rates, different loan amounts, different down payments, different terms, different tax rates, that’ll actually change the, the tax savings and you can play around with the different types of fixed mortgages on this spreadsheet.

If you have a credit card with a $20,000 limit, that doesn't necessarily mean that you should spend $20,000 on purchases with the card. The same logic is true when it comes to mortgages -- just because you can qualify for a certain mortgage amount doesn't mean that you have to max out your budget. Be sure that your new mortgage payment not only fits your bank's standards but your budget as well.


Loans that are backed by the federal government (i.e., the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veterans Affairs (VA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are designed to make buying homes more affordable and typically offer low down payments. Because conventional loans are not guaranteed by the federal government if the buyer defaults, they’re a higher risk for the banks, credit unions and other lenders that offer them. Conventional loans require larger down payments than most federally backed loans, but may offer lower interest rates and the flexibility to negotiate fees – usually resulting in a lower monthly payment.
One of the easiest ways to obtain a mortgage loan is to work with your existing bank. If you already have a relationship with a bank in the US, the process of applying for a mortgage is relatively painless. However, you may find that your bank can't provide you with the best possible deal. It can pay off to speak with underwriters at different financial institutions. In addition to mortgage rates, you should also ask them about their origination fees and various closing costs and fees.
Note: If you pay half your house payment every two weeks instead of one monthly payment, you’ll end up saving money on your loan. You’ll wind up paying 26 payments per year, one more payment annually than if you just paid monthly. The re-amortized loan will eventually result in more of the payment paid on principal and less on interest. The extra payments go to pay down the principal on the loan.
If you choose a variable rate mortgage deal, then the amount of interest you pay can fluctuate over time. Mortgage rates often rise when the Bank of England raises the base rate, as borrowing costs become steeper for lenders, and these higher costs are passed on to homeowners. That’s why many homebuyers opt for fixed rates to provide peace of mind that their interest payments won’t change.

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If you plan on staying put until the mortgage is paid off, a fixed-rate loan will give you stability. The interest rate is a little higher than an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). But it won’t go up like an ARM can. The only things that will change your house payment over time are property taxes and insurance rates, but those will change regardless of which type of loan you get.
Loans that are backed by the federal government (i.e., the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veterans Affairs (VA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are designed to make buying homes more affordable and typically offer low down payments. Because conventional loans are not guaranteed by the federal government if the buyer defaults, they’re a higher risk for the banks, credit unions and other lenders that offer them. Conventional loans require larger down payments than most federally backed loans, but may offer lower interest rates and the flexibility to negotiate fees – usually resulting in a lower monthly payment.
In simple terms, a mortgage is a loan in which your house functions as the collateral. The bank or mortgage lender loans you a large chunk of money (typically 80 percent of the price of the home), which you must pay back -- with interest -- over a set period of time. If you fail to pay back the loan, the lender can take your home through a legal process known as foreclosure.
Research your utilities. If you're moving into a larger home than you're used to, a home that is newer or older than you're used to or located in a climate that's hotter or colder than you're used to, ask your real estate professional to find out what the home's energy bills have typically been. This can help prevent being surprised by a higher utility bill than you're expecting. If you're moving into a new community, find out about water costs, too.
Buying a home is the embodiment of the American dream. However, that wasn’t always the case: In fact, before the 1930s, only four in 10 American families owned their own home. That’s because very few people had enough cash to buy a home in one lump sum. And until the 1930s, there was no such thing as a bank loan specifically designed to purchase a home, something we now know as a mortgage.
The programs vary in what they can offer. In some cases direct financial assistance may be provided to help you pay your mortgage for a short period of time. Payment plans or reduced monthly payments may be offered. However most of the government programs and non-profit organizations will help facilitate some form of loan modification to qualified homeowners. This will provide families time to get back on track by ideally lowering their monthly payment, reducing interest rates or waiving fees.
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