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Seven Steps to Savvy Loan Hunting
FROM Steiners How To Talk Mortgage Talk -- $12.95


1. Your first step is knowing the terrain - you must understand the language and scope out current market possibilities. Read through the following Glossary to get up to speed on industry jargon and get comfortable with the Loan Evaluation Checklist and Loan Amount Qualifying Worksheets that follow in the Appendix. Use the Credit Report sample letter in the in the Appendix to get a copy of your report, and review.

2. Ask your real estate agent, your Title Company, your Lawyer and your friends and relatives for Lender recommendations. Check the book's National Money$ource Directory, browse the Internet and clip local newspaper real estate sections for Lender ads and Rate lists. Select five to ten Lenders and/or Mortgage Brokers that seem to have a Loan Program you want, and fill in our Evaluation Checklists with their telephone numbers and/or Internet addresses.

3. Start contacting them and filling in the rest of the Evaluation Checklists. Most Lenders will offer more than one Loan Program, with different Rates, Fees and Terms. On initial calls, tell the Lender your Property Type (i.e., single family, condo or co-op, two-four family), the city it's located in, the Appraisal, the Loan Amount you're looking for, and whether you're looking for an Adjustable or a Fixed loan. They will tell you if they can make the kind of loan you need.

4. Stop answering questions and start asking. Find out who you're speaking with and the Program Name of the loan being recommended.

5. Go for the Basic Three on the Evaluation Checklist, i.e., "What are your Rates, Total Lender Fees and Turnaround Times?" Ask them to send you their Rate Sheets, which will often answer all your questions much faster than interviewing. Many Lenders have Rate Sheets on their Internet sites. Others won't even mail a flyer, saying Rates will be changed by the time you get them. Although this is common, be particularly careful with Lenders who won't explain their Programs in writing. We've seen them vary loan costs more than 250% over their original verbal promise.

6. When you've weeded out which three or four Loan Programs seem best, go back and talk with those Loan Advisors again. This time, review and fill in any blanks on the Evaluation Checklist (see the Appendix), including actual dollar amounts for Fees and Maximum Payments from year to year. Treat this interview like a doctor's visit. Expect to be financially undressed, and to both ask and answer financial questions you wouldn't discuss with your mother. Ask for an Application package, so you can fill it in later at your leisure.

7. Stack up your choices, select the loan you want and start filling in the Application. Keep asking the Loan Advisor questions about anything that you don't understand or that seems unreasonably expensive or risky. If you're dealing with a Lender you haven't been able to check out locally, you may want to consider doing a Double App, i.e., applying to two Lenders at once. You're better off paying two Application and Appraiser Fees, and going with the best Loan Program a Lender will commit to in writing, than getting stuck at closing with large unexpected Fees, or a lowered Loan Amount, or, worst of all, a Lender who suddenly won't do your loan at all. Envision the months stretching ahead with payments several hundreds of dollars lower than you'd be paying with most of the Loan Programs out there. Keep asking Savvy questions and re-evaluating the possibilities. You'll be glad you did. 


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