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What are some other programs for first time home buyers, other than FHA loans?
Mortgages typically have many different owners over the years and many different servicing bureaus, so it's not difficult for a mixup to occur over your loan balance. To protect yourself, run an amoritization schedule and check the loan balance reported by your lender against it. • Keep a copy of every check you ever write for your loan.
If you call a mortgage servicing bureau about your loan, make sure you get the full name of the person with whom you speak.
If you find yourself in a dispute with a lender about a payment or another issue, don't send correspondence to the same address you send your payment.
Keep an eye on how much money your bank collects to cover your annual property taxes and insurance. Lenders are allowed to collect your annual escrow needs plus one-sixth of this figure, but many over collect.
One of the smartest things someone can do with a mortgage is to prepay on the loan. All you need to do is contact your lender and ask for its prepayment procedure. Then, once a year, check the loan balance the lender sends you to make sure the additional payments have been applied properly.
Fee-based plans that charge $300 to $500 for administering a prepayment system are a bad idea; you can do it better and cheaper by yourself.
If you reach 20 percent equity in your home, you can save a substantial of money by asking your lender to drop private mortgage insurance. • Avoid paying private mortgage insurance by taking an 80 percent first mortgage and a 10 or 15 percent second mortgage.
Get a copy of your credit reports four to six months before you start home shopping and pre-quaify for a mortgage before you start looking. If you're buying a house strictly for financial reasons, look at each house you're considering as you would evaluate a purchase of stocks or bonds. Don't buy one of the first houses in a subdivision. The developer may go bust and be unable to complete the development. Make any offer on a home contingent on its passing an inspection. The purchase also should be contingent on your ability to get financing at or below a set interest rate. Get an owner's title insurance policy that covers you, not the lender, if your ownership is successfully challenged. Hire a real estate attorney to review the closing papers and, if you're buying a house still under construction, to draft or review the purchase contract. Before you buy a house, try your commute to work during rush hour. Learn about the area surrounding a potential purchase, including the potential for new roads or new development. Look at a property while it's raining to see how water flows across it. Look for signs of poor drainage and danger of flooding. Buy a house that's fundamentally sound in construction and materials, even if it doesn't have the latest, greatest design features.
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When you get a home mortgage, should your lender be free to mark up your fees without limit? The Department of Housing and Urban Development says all markups are illegal. But lenders, title agencies and other industry groups have fought HUD's ban. And now, three federal appellate courts, covering 15 states, have ruled that unlimited mark-ups on mortgages are just fine within their jurisdictions.
States where mark-ups are legal so you are extra careful when buying a home. Here is the list:
• Arkansas • Illinois • Indiana • Iowa • Maryland • Minnesota • Missouri • Nebraska • North Carolina • North Dakota • South Carolina • South Dakota • Virginia • West Virginia • Wisconsin
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