Long before the sub-prime mortgage debacle became a part of our common vernacular, Freddie Mac instituted a campaign entitled, “Don’t Borrow Trouble,” in which specific steps were put forward in order to avoid “borrowing pitfalls.” Education, of course, is the best defense against predatory lending practices. An important initial step in protecting families and their homes is understanding your rights and educating yourself in the home buying process.
If you are considering an Adjustable Rate Loan Program be an informed consumer by asking the following questions:
1. Ask what the initial interest rate will be (your start rate).
2. Ask how often the interest rate will adjust and the dates upon which the interest rate changes will occur.
3. Ask the name of index used to adjust the interest rate (e.g. Libor, COFI, etc.)
4. Ask what the interest rate spread will be or what your interest rate will adjust to when your rate change does occur.
5. Ask how often your interest rate will adjust.
6. Ask what the lifetime cap of the interest rate will be above the initial start rate.
7, Ask how many points you will have to pay (each point translates into a percent of the loan amount for which you are paying) and what your total fees will be.
8. Ask what your APR or Annual Percentage Rate will be (your interest rate plus the total cost of your loan)
9. Ask if there is a pre-payment penalty associated with your loan and what the cost will be (No, you do not want one!)
10. Ask as many questions as you need in order to understand the loan program you are obtaining. You should have received a written Truth-in-Lending Statement outlining the interest rate you were promised, along with all of the charges associated with the loan, at the beginning of the loan process. Don’t sign the loan documents if they do not appear to be correct.
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