It’s a loan with your house and land used as collateral. If you don’t pay back the loan, the lender will foreclose. That doesn’t mean the bank owns the house until you pay it off. It means they’ve got a lien against the property. A lien is the right to take possession of someone else’s property, in this case your home, until a debt is paid off. So you really are a homeowner even if you have a mortgage. You just own a home with a lien. Zillow’s Mortgage Learning Center offers extensive information about mortgages and is a great resource for anyone in the market for a home loan.

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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.
Simply put: Nope, not so. The mortgage pre qualification process can give you an idea of how much lenders may be willing to loan you, based on your credit score, debt and income. However, there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually get the loan. Once you find a home and make an offer, the lender will request additional documentation, which may include bank statements, W-2s, tax returns and more. That process will determine whether your loan gets full approval.

In addition to saving for a down payment, you’ll need to budget for the money required to close your mortgage, which can be significant. Closing costs generally run between 2% and 5% of your loan amount. You can shop around and compare prices for certain closing expenses, such as homeowners insurance, home inspections and title searches. You can also defray costs by asking the seller to pay for a portion of your closing costs or negotiating your real estate agent's commission. Calculate your expected closing costs to help you set your budget.
The pre-approval process is fairly simple: Contact a mortgage lender, submit your financial and personal information, and wait for a response. Pre-approvals include everything from how much you can afford, to the interest rate you’ll pay on the loan. The lender prints a pre-approval letter for your records, and funds are available as soon as a seller accepts your bid. Though it’s not always that simple, it can be.
That depends of you and your goals for this purchase. Is this the house you plan to stay in forever? Is it a starter home you plan on selling to trade up in five years? How long you think you’ll stay in a home will help you decide between fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages. It will also help you decide whether to focus on interest rate or points.
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:
The federal government’s Making Home Affordable program is working with various banks and lenders to ensure that they provide millions of homeowners with loan modifications. In some cases the government may be subsidizing fees and interest rate reductions. Learn about this and other programs, all of which can ensure people get relief from their mispriced mortgage payments. The other option is the Homeowner Affordability and Stability, which is part of Make a Home Affordable.
At the end of the day, your mortgage loan is the single biggest financial decision you’re likely to make in your life. It’s important to take time to get it right, and that ultimately comes down to finding a lender who can do three things: offer competitive rates, offer great service and quickly process your loan. By keeping these areas in mind, you’re not only going to win as you go to buy your house — you're going to also save money and time.
Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP): HAMP lowers your monthly mortgage payment to 31 percent of your verified monthly gross (pre-tax) income to make your payments more affordable. The typical HAMP modification results in a 40 percent drop in a monthly mortgage payment. Eighteen percent of HAMP homeowners reduce their payments by $1,000 or more.
With this in mind, it’s important to do research before choosing a mortgage lender. You not only want to compare the rates but also the level of service each lender provides. When comparing rates, be sure to get the estimates on the same day as rates can change daily. When reviewing level of service, ask how quickly they can process your loan. Is the lender available to personally help you choose the right product and rate, or are you waiting on hold for “the next available representative”?  Do they make you jump through hoops just to get a rate quote?
Mortgage loan repayment works through a process called amortization. When you take out a mortgage loan, you agree to pay back the principal amount (actual loan money) in addition to interest over a specified period of time. Because the interest can add up to more than the principal amount, an amortization schedule (provided by your lender) balances out the interest and principal cost over the course of the loan repayment. A borrower pays off more interest to start, and the ratio gradually reverses to where the borrower pays off more of the principal as the loan nears its end. This way, the payment amount is able to remain stable over the course of the loan. If you're considering refinancing your mortgage, an amortization schedule is an essential tool in learning how much money you can save.
It’s easy to get carried away planning for the year ahead. But take a moment to put your goals and your numbers in perspective, especially when budgeting your monthly mortgage. This can apply to both refinancing and buying a house. “Standard guidelines call for keeping housing expenses below 35 percent of total income,” Kevin Gallegos, consumer finance expert at Freedom Debt Relief, says. “Some experts are revising that number down to 28 percent.”
Selling Your House: Your servicers might postpone foreclosure proceedings if you have a pending sales contract or if you put your home on the market. This approach works if proceeds from the sale can pay off the entire loan balance plus the expenses connected to selling the home (for example, real estate agent fees). Such a sale would allow you to avoid late and legal fees and damage to your credit rating, and protect your equity in the property.

It’s short for private mortgage insurance. It’s usually required if you put less than 20 percent down on your house, and it protects the lender in case you default. The cost varies, as do the methods to get rid of the PMI once you have 20 percent equity in your home. Government loan programs, such as FHA or VA loans, are backed by the government rather than PMI. There is no monthly mortgage insurance on VA loans, however you will have monthly mortgage insurance on a new FHA loan.
Typically, you can take up to 60 percent of your initial principal limit in the first year of your reverse mortgage. This is known as your first-year draw limit. If the amount you owe on an existing mortgage or other required payments exceeds this amount, you can take out extra money to pay off that loan and associated fees, as well as additional cash of up to 10 percent of your principal limit.
The last thing any homeowner wants is to face the stress of being behind on their mortgage payment, or worse yet, to think about, and possibly lose the family home to foreclosure or unpaid property taxes. No one ever plans to or expects to lose their home to foreclosure. But by understanding how you can obtain assistance with making your mortgage payments, who and how to ask for help, and what to do, you can reduce your chances of this occurring. Communication and being pro-active is one of they keys. You should also know the foreclosure process inside and out, and understand what may lead up to it. That will place you in a better position to address and also recognize any potential problems that may impact your ability to pay every bill and make every mortgage payment on time.
Apartment renting is great when you are a twenty-something college student and all of the best trendy restaurants are within walking distance of your home. It doesn’t take long, however, until those things slowly fade away and the desire to own a home becomes more than a thought. This is usually the point where you realize you need to evaluate your finances if you are going to apply for a home loan. Fast forward to the point where you have made the decision to buy a home and you are getting an approval. The bank comes back to you saying that you did not get approved for the loan. It can be devastating but if you know the reasons why you can’t qualify for a loan, the easier it will be to work on fixing them so that your dream of owning a home can become a reality.
Before you close on your new house, your lender will require you to buy homeowners insurance. Shop around and compare insurance rates to find the best price. Look closely at what’s covered in the policies; going with a less-expensive policy usually means fewer protections and more out-of-pocket expenses if you file a claim. Also, flood damage isn’t covered by homeowners insurance, so if your new home is in a flood-prone area, you may need to buy separate flood insurance.
Home equity loans are also referred to as second mortgages because you use your equity as collateral. If you obtain a home equity term loan, you will receive a lump sum and will have to make a monthly payment. You can also apply for a home equity line of credit, which provides you with access to a revolving account. That allows you to withdraw and repay money over the course of a specific period of time.

Insurance: This will be paid to a homeowner’s insurance company of your choice; this is required when you have a mortgage. Lenders require that your insurance cover the cost of rebuilding the home if it is ruined by fire or other disaster. This “replacement cost” is determined by your insurer, and must be agreed to by your lender. Insurance will typically cost $700 to $1,200 per year for a single family home.
If you and your loan servicer cannot agree on a repayment plan or other remedy, you may want to investigate filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you have a regular income, Chapter 13 may allow you to keep property, like a mortgaged house or car, that you might otherwise lose. In Chapter 13, the court approves a repayment plan that allows you to use your future income toward payment of your debts during a three-to-five-year period, rather than surrender the property. After you have made all the payments under the plan, you receive a discharge of certain debts.

*The funds available to the borrower may be restricted for the first 12 months after loan closing, due to HECM reverse mortgage requirements.  In addition, the borrower may need to set aside additional funds from the loan proceeds to pay for taxes and insurance. Information accurate as of 10/1/2017. Update underway to reflect latest changes to PLFs by HUD
Know how much cash you'll need at closing. When you buy your home, you’ll need cash for a down payment (see how much you should put down) and closing costs (estimate your closing costs). The down payment typically varies from 5% to 20% or more. Putting less than 20% down will typically require you to pay for private mortgage insurance (keep reading for more on that). Closing costs could be about 3-7% of the total loan amount and will include charges such as loan origination fees, title insurance and appraisal fees.

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.
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which is a part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is working aggressively to halt and reverse the losses represented by foreclosure. Through its National Servicing Center (NSC), FHA offers a number of various loss mitigation programs and informational resources to assist FHA-insured homeowners and home equity conversion mortgage (HECM) borrowers facing financial hardship or unemployment and whose mortgage is either in default or at risk of default.
The Hardest Hit Fund was created to provide additional options to residents of those states that have the highest unemployment rates, most significant job losses, and that have been hit hardest by the nation’s housing crisis. This program is only available in certain parts of the country. Borrowers can qualify for zero interest rate loans that do not need to be repaid, so these can be thought of as grants. Click here to read more on Hardest Hit mortgage fund.
Mortgage term. A mortgage term is the length of time used to calculate your payments. If you take out a 30-year mortgage, your monthly payments are calculated by amortizing the loan over 30 years, aka 360 months. At the end of the mortgage term, your home will be paid off unless you have a balloon mortgage. For a balloon mortgage, payments are generally calculated over a 30-year term, but have a maturity date of three to 10 years. On the maturity date, the balloon payment (remaining principal balance on the loan) is due. In most cases, homeowners refinance or sell the home to make the balloon payment.
Keep Your Home California uses the Note date as the start date for the Keep Your Home California lien. The Note date is the date of final Keep Your Home California approval. This will always pre-date the servicer’s application of Keep Your Home California funds to your loan. If you wish to know your Note date, you may contact Keep Your Home California at (888) 953-3722, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Home equity loans are also referred to as second mortgages because you use your equity as collateral. If you obtain a home equity term loan, you will receive a lump sum and will have to make a monthly payment. You can also apply for a home equity line of credit, which provides you with access to a revolving account. That allows you to withdraw and repay money over the course of a specific period of time.
A mortgage is essentially a loan for purchasing property—typically a house—and the legal agreement behind that loan. That agreement is between the lender and the borrower. The lender agrees to loan the borrower the money over time in exchange for ownership of the property and interest payments on top of the original loan amount. If the borrower defaults on the loan—fails to make payments—the lender sell the property to someone else. When the loan is paid off, actual ownership of the property transfers to the borrower.
The NC Foreclosure Prevention Fund offers a Mortgage Payment Program to North Carolina homeowners who are struggling to make their home mortgage payments due to job loss or unemployment through no fault of their own or other temporary financial hardship such as a divorce, serious illness, death of a co-signor or natural disaster. Services are provided by HUD-approved counseling agencies statewide.
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Stay in your home during the process, since you may not qualify for certain types of assistance if you move out. Renting your home will change it from a primary residence to an investment property. Most likely, it will disqualify you for any additional “workout” assistance from the servicer. If you choose this route, be sure the rental income is enough to help you get and keep your loan current.

Yes, the word “homework” makes us shudder too, but this time the reward is much bigger than memorizing geometry theorems or the periodic table. You’re finding a home but you’re also making a financial commitment you’ll have to live with for years: get the best deal you can. Research loans, rates and brokers exhaustively before you sign or commit to anything. Doing the hard work now will pay off down the road with a better rate and terms.

If you’re interested in refinancing to take advantage of lower mortgage rates, but are afraid you won’t qualify because your home value has decreased, you may want to ask if you qualify for the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) or the HOPE for Homeowners (H4H) program. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

When you apply for a mortgage, you'll need to document your income, employment situation, identity, and more, so it can be a good idea to start gathering the necessary documentation before you walk into a lender's office. This isn't an exhaustive list, but you should locate your last couple of tax returns, bank and brokerage statements, pay stubs, W-2s, driver's license, Social Security card, marriage license (if applicable), and contact numbers for your employer's HR department. Here's a more comprehensive list that can help you determine what you'll need.
Home ownership is just not a realistic option for everyone right now, despite what may look like once-in-lifetime mortgage rates. If you fall into this category, don’t despair. Your financial circumstances could change, the economy is still very much in flux, and remember that the current mortgage crisis involved a lot of home buyers getting in over their heads. When it comes to a major purchase like a home, timing is critical.
Once you find a home you want to put an offer on, you have to obtain the actual mortgage loan. Apply for a loan with your chosen mortgage lender. Within three days of your application you should receive a loan estimate that includes closing costs, the interest rate, and the monthly amount you’ll pay for the principal, interest, insurance, and taxes. After that, it’s off to the underwriter, who will review all of your financial information and make the final call to approve or deny your loan.

With this in mind, it’s important to do research before choosing a mortgage lender. You not only want to compare the rates but also the level of service each lender provides. When comparing rates, be sure to get the estimates on the same day as rates can change daily. When reviewing level of service, ask how quickly they can process your loan. Is the lender available to personally help you choose the right product and rate, or are you waiting on hold for “the next available representative”?  Do they make you jump through hoops just to get a rate quote?

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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