On the Internet: Mortgage and Refinancing Tips
by CI Staff
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Mortgage and Refinancing Tips
Owning a home is a common goal for many Americans. Anyone who has purchased a house knows that mortgages can be complex and confusing. Who has time to learn all of the intricate details of lending, interest rates, payments, points and credit scores? Given the importance of such data, however, it is a good idea to know about it. Below are a few Web sites that can assist with these important issues. The sites all offer free advice, tips and calculators in hopes of making you a more informed consumer and less at the mercy of big banks and brokerage firms.
The Mortgage Professor's Web site
The ins and outs of mortgages are explained at this site by Jack M. Guttentag, a professor of finance emeritus at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Guttentag offers his advice and tips and answers questions about the mortgage industry. Each article or tutorial is dated, making it easy to find timely and newly updated information. The home page provides a list of daily updated wholesale mortgage rates for adjustable- and fixed-rate loans over varying periods of time, comparing todays rates to yesterdays and last weeks rates. Advice, tools and tips are broken down by category, and you can also contact the professor with questions and comments.
To prepare yourself to be a better borrower, the professor offers tutorials on selecting mortgage features such as adjustable- versus fixed-rate, down payments, rate/point combinations and more. Quick Tips on Major Hazards is designed to help you navigate the sometimes dangerous and always murky waters of the mortgage business. Finally, the professor provides tips on choosing and dealing with a certified loan provider.
Once you have learned how to choose a loan provider, you can browse alphabetical lists or lists by state of upfront mortgage brokers, upfront mortgage lenders, and fixed-markup lenders.
An Educate Yourself section offers a wealth of materials to teach investors about mortgages. Because the The Mortgage Professors Web site has hundreds of topics, calculators and spreadsheets, the table of contents is a great place to start. Topics include buying, selling or building a house; loan features and costs; and advice for current homeowners on amortization, refinancing and second mortgages. The section also offers a glossary of mortgage terms and a list of common mortgage mistakes.
The sites analytical tools include close to 50 mortgage calculators and 13 spreadsheets, as well as updated wholesale price and rate data. Home shoppers, purchasers and owners will find personalized step-by-step guides and answers to common questions. You can read about current government involvement and policies regarding the mortgage business and read recent columns written by Guttentag.
In order to make an informed decision about a new home loan or refinancing one you already have, you will need to compare various factors including rates, loan amounts, and payment options. DecisionAide Analytics allows you to compare loan features with numerous calculators, which are all powered by MSN Money. The site may not be very attractive, but with over 50 calculators, you have plenty of options to choose from, along with a Calculator Assistant to direct you to the calculator you need. The mortgage calculators address debt consolidation, how helpful it is to make additional principal payments, refinancing various mortgages, mortgage insurance, affordability, renting versus buying, payment amount, amortization, interest rates, points and fees and more.
You can also use calculators to compare loans with various features like life of the loan, paying for points, the impact of taxes, how much to borrow, loan holding period and break-even analysis. The site also provides links to books about mortgages, real estate and interest rates. Some of the calculators have a large number of inputs, but this enables more accurate calculations.
Freddie Macs free Web site has a section devoted to Buying and Owning a Home, which includes advice and information on home ownership, mortgages, house maintenance and more.
The Preparing for Homeownership area features a pro and con analysis of home ownership, which also includes a discussion of the importance of establishing and maintaining good credit as well as how to restore damaged credit. The All About Mortgages section introduces basic concepts about mortgages and also helps you to select the proper mortgage for your situation. You will also find advice on avoiding predatory lenders and tips for applying for a mortgage. You can use one of the many tools and calculators to calculate taxes, mortgage costs, down payments and more. Finally, you can search Freddie Macs free database of homes for sale and local real estate agents.
Mortgage101.com lists interest rates and other important company information from over 700 mortgage companies. You can search rates first by type, then by loan amount, your zip code, interest rate, term, points and credit rating. You can also search lenders by type, including bad credit, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Veterans Affairs (VA) lenders, then by location and loan type. The site also offers six mortgage calculators and a mortgage library with educational materials. Finally, a market snapshot includes daily rates, commentaries, recent news and an overview of the real estate market. The site also offers advice on property valuation, moving, refinancing, second mortgages and more.
Mortgage-X provides mortgage information and educational tools for consumers. The Web site offers a wide variety of tools and calculators and over 150 articles covering various aspects of the mortgage lending field. Mortgage-X tracks all available adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) indexes as well as ARM index forecasts, comparison charts and historical graphs.
The home page has links to over 2,500 lenders and includes detailed company and rate information. A Mortgage Rate Trend Survey tallies over 250 mortgage professionals opinions as to what direction rates are headed in the next 30 and 90 days. The sites Mortgage Library offers hundreds of articles about loans, rates, closing costs, mortgage management, refinancing and more. You can also view a glossary of commonly used mortgage terms, read about consumer protection laws and learn how to lodge a complaint about a suspected rights violation.
To search for a low rate, you can use the Mortgage Rate Search tool, which compares the rates of hundreds of lenders by state. Mortgage-X provides a few original interest rate, monthly payment and loan calculators but also provides links to additional calculators found on other mortgage-related sites, including the Mortgage Professors site. The Ask a Mortgage Related Question service connects you to over 1,000 mortgage experts, and the Mortgage-X Forum includes hundreds of mortgage-related discussion topics.
National Rate Finder
The National Rate Finder site is an on-line service dedicated to matching individuals with local mortgage companies. Founded by mortgage bankers, the site provides lists of current mortgage rates as well as educational materials to help consumers understand the intricacies of mortgage lending within their respective states.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
This free government Web site provides information on home purchasing, selling and renting. A home-buying guide includes tips on loans, finding a home, making an offer, homeowners insurance, inspections and more. You can also find tips on avoiding foreclosures. You can download a free brochure called Looking for the Best Mortgage by going to Step 3: Shop for a Loan of the home buying guide.