Everyone should make sure their credit score is as high as it possibly can be. If you high credit card balances, pay them below 15% of the credit limit. Dispute negative account information with the credit bureaus. Contact your creditors and negotiate a pay for delete. If you have a friend or family member with a credit card in good standing have them add you as an authorized user.

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.


As an example, when I was buying my first home, my lender called me three days before closing to let me know that my credit score had fallen to one point below the threshold for my interest rate, so I would either have to take an action that would improve my credit score immediately or accept a significantly higher interest rate. The solution required me to pay off one of my credit cards and fax proof of it to the lender -- not an impossible situation, but certainly a hassle when I was told it had to be done right away and I was at work.


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.
Know your credit score. As soon as you decide to start looking for a home, check your credit report and credit score with any of the 3 major credit reporting agencies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. If you find any mistakes that need to be corrected, addressing these issues early will put you in a better position when it’s time to buy a house. (Bank of America credit card clients can get a free FICO® score in Online and Mobile Banking.)
On the other hand, if you know you will be selling in the not-too-distant future, the lower interest rate that comes with an ARM might make sense. Even if rates jump in a few years, you’ll be selling anyway so it won’t impact you. You can also select a hybrid ARM that is fixed for a certain number of years (3, 5, 7 or 10) then adjusts annually for the remainder of the loan. The risk with an ARM is that if you don’t sell, your payments may go up and you may not be able to refinance.
Regions Bank has helped thousands of homeowners avoid foreclosure through a program called the Customer Assistance Program. This can provide a number of solutions to qualified applicants. Sign up for forbearance, repayment plans, and home loan modifications are all offered. There are several Regions Bank foreclosure assistance programs for struggling low income customers.

This makes the 30-year fixed-rate home loan very different from an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). An adjustable loan, as its name suggests, has an interest rate that can change over time. But the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage remains true to its name, keeping the same interest rate (and the same monthly payment amount) through the entire repayment term.


When you apply for a mortgage loan in the US, you will typically deal with an underwriter. Most underwriters work for banks, but you can also choose to work with a brokerage. Mortgage brokers don't provide loans directly, but have relationships with a number of lenders. Regardless of the type of underwriter you work with, you will typically be required to:
The content on MoneyCrashers.com is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as professional financial advice. Should you need such advice, consult a licensed financial or tax advisor. References to products, offers, and rates from third party sites often change. While we do our best to keep these updated, numbers stated on this site may differ from actual numbers. We may have financial relationships with some of the companies mentioned on this website. Among other things, we may receive free products, services, and/or monetary compensation in exchange for featured placement of sponsored products or services. We strive to write accurate and genuine reviews and articles, and all views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors.
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.
Lenders can initiate the foreclosure process after a single missed payment. Foreclosure is devastating and affects the entire community. Charities and non-profit organizations throughout the country help homeowners avoid foreclosure by offering financial assistance. The eligibility criteria to receive help varies among charities and locations. There are several national charitable organizations that can help you receive the necessary assistance to get back on track and keep your home.

Yes, Keep Your Home California will continue to pay Unemployment Mortgage Assistance benefits to a homeowner’s servicer even if the homeowner exhausts their California Employment Development Department benefits, and remain not fully employed, during the time of Unemployment Mortgage Assistance. Keep Your Home California will stop benefit payments if the homeowner becomes fully re-employed or if it determines that the home is listed for sale, the homeowner is renting or no longer occupying the property, or the homeowner is actively negotiating a Short Sale or Deed in Lieu of foreclosure with their Servicer.

Your credit score. Your credit score is one of the most significant factors in getting approved for a mortgage, and it also influences the interest rate you’ll end up with. The better your score, the lower your rate will likely be and the less you’ll pay in interest. You’re entitled to free credit reports each year from the three major credit bureaus, so request them from annualcreditreport.com and dispute any errors that may be dragging your score down.

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.

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.
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.
Are you looking for information about grant programs that may help with mortgage payments? Through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the federal government offers mortgage payment assistance to the public. States and non-profit agencies have followed the federal government's lead and also offer mortgage payment grants. While competitive, these grants can help homeowners get back on their feet and avoid foreclosure.

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.
To be clear, you don't need a pre-approval to start looking at houses. However, since a pre-approval is essentially the same as a full mortgage approval, just without a specific home in mind, it can be an extremely valuable shopping tool. Specifically, if you submit a pre-approval along with your offer, it tells the seller that you're a serious buyer who is not likely to run into trouble when obtaining financing. One caveat: A pre-approval and pre-qualification are two different things. A pre-qualification is based solely on information you provide and is not a commitment to lend money, therefore it doesn't carry nearly as much weight.
If you're interested in buying real estate in the US, the most important point to remember is that the mortgage lending market is extremely competitive. The overall interest rates are similar to those found in many European countries, but there is a lot of competition between different banks and brokers. That's why it's vital to shop around before you settle on a lender.
Bankruptcy: Personal bankruptcy generally is considered the debt management option of last resort because the results are long-lasting and far-reaching. A bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years, and can make it difficult to get credit, buy another home, get life insurance, or sometimes, get a job. Still, it is a legal procedure that can offer a fresh start for people who can’t satisfy their debts. 
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.
With a fixed-rate mortgage, the interest rate will not change over the life of the loan. It's a good choice for someone who likes the certainty of knowing the mortgage payment will never go up. ARMs start with a lower interest rate for the first few years and adjust after a predetermined period (usually five years) based on the housing market. This type of loan can seem risky as interest rates have the potential to rise significantly, but there are caps in place to keep the rates from rising to astronomical levels.
Simply put, every month you pay back a portion of the principal (the amount you’ve borrowed) plus the interest accrued for the month. Your lender will use an amortization formula to create a payment schedule that breaks down each payment into paying off principal and interest. The length or life of your loan also determines how much you’ll pay each month. 
Coming up with a down payment can be the one of the biggest obstacle when buying a home, especially for first-time home buyers. No matter what type of loan you choose, you will likely have to put some amount of money down. Saving up for a down payment can seem like a daunting task, but with the right planning and budgeting you can reach your savings goals faster than you think. Click here for strategies that can help you save for a down payment.
Most lenders today will want to know every detail of your financial life. If something looks odd, or doesn’t make sense they will want to have some sort of explanation. This means that you will have to write letter explaining everything. For instance they may want to know why a credit card issuers pulled your credit three months ago when you were trying to apply for store credit, or why you changed jobs a few months ago or why you have moved from job to job over the last couple years. It’s best to write them and explain everything in full detail and move on. They do this simply to verify your financial stability and it is usually something that is requested from time to time.

There are thousands of non-profit housing counseling agencies that are certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Counselors will work with homeowners to help them prevent a foreclosure or get back on track with paying their mortgage. Most of the services are free for struggling homeowners. Get more details on HUD housing counseling agencies.
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