Spring is often when we start thinking about remodeling projects or buying a new home. Right now interest rates on home equity loans and mortgages are relatively low. If you are thinking about taking out a home loan, you need to be smart about choosing the loan.
The Federal Trade Commission recently warned consumers to shop around for mortgages and to check multiple sources. Don't depend on the company's marketing materials. Be sure to read all the final print to understand the terms of your loan. While the marketing materials should match the fine print, the FTC has sued companies whose marketing materials are misleading.
What are other important strategies you can use?
- Comparison shop. Lenders have different interest rates for their loans – even in the same community. Be sure to shop around and compare loan interest rates from different lenders.
- Ask questions so that you know ALL the costs involved in the loan. Ask about points and other fees, closing costs, mortgage insurance requirements. All the costs should be clear to you and in writing before you sign the loan agreement. If you don't understand a cost, ask questions so that you do.
- Use online calculators to explore the full-cost of the loan at different interest rates as well as different length of time. Then, you can decide what the best option for you is.
For more information about shopping for loans, visit the Federal Trade Commission's website article, "Shopping for a Mortgage." I recommend their "Mortgage Shopping Worksheet" as it is very useable and helpful.