Thursday, 23 November 2017

Top 10 Mortgage Blunders

Written by Posted On Wednesday, 08 November 2006 00:00

Ted Janusz confesses.

He was a predator.

He used perfectly legal tactics to separate naive, unsuspecting mortgage consumers from large sums of cash.

Now he's trying to set things right by selling you a book so it doesn't happen to you.

How do you know a book from a confessed come-on man isn't a come-on?

If it was on your bookshelf before your last mortgage transaction, you'd know.

"Kickback: Confessions of a Mortgage Salesman, How to Save $1,000s on Your Mortgage" (Insight Publishing, $19.95), says Janusz, is his penance for taking a cut of what the Center for Responsible Lending estimates is at least $9.1 billion in predatory mortgage lending costs Americans pay each year.

Predatory lending practices are largely an outgrowth of the subprime residential mortgage sector, but the practices are not limited to the subprime market.

Predatory lending practices involve tacking on extra or unnecessarily exorbitant costs, penalties and other financially abusive features which can financially wear down borrowers so much so that they lose their home. The practices are often directed at specific groups, including minorities, older, low-income borrowers and others who can least afford the added cost.

Janusz, now a public speaker and personal trainer who is publicly 12-stepping his way to redemption, once served as a senior loan officer for a regional mortgage bank in Columbus, OH.

He won't divulge the name of the company, but he will tell you about the tricks of the trade.

"The point is to watch out for yourself while you are out there. This happens all over. I'm not trying to get back at the company. They gave me a job," said Janusz.

He says he just wants to level the playing field for consumers who perhaps enter the mortgage process once every seven years or so and sit across from a loan officer who is working on his or her second or third mortgage transaction for the day.

"They can size people up. They know who is sophisticated and who isn't going to know the difference," said Janusz.

Janusz says consumers put the same faith in a bank teller as they do for a loan officer, but the two meet the public on different terms.

"The bank teller's job is to be friendly and informative. The loan officer is looking to make money," he said.

To help consumers meet the loan officer on common ground, Janusz offers "The Top 10 Mortgage Mistakes Borrowers Make."

  • Not knowing which mortgage fees the borrower can and cannot negotiate. Most items in a real estate transaction are negotiable. Learn about every item on the HUD-1 Settlement Statement before ever applying for a mortgage.

  • Choosing and trusting the first loan officer the borrower interviews. Shop around. Get referrals from family, friends, co-workers and others you trust who've recently completed a satisfactory mortgage transaction.

  • Using an interest-only or "payment option" adjustable-rate loan primarily to qualify for a more expensive house. In today's market of slower appreciation and falling prices, such a loan could leave you with a mortgage balance higher than the value of the home.

  • Thinking the interest rate is always the main thing. A host of closing costs may be necessary to get that interest rate. Comparison shop not just the rate but other loan costs.

  • Not comparing the final fees listed on the closing documents to the up-front estimates and good faith estimate to avoid the lender "packing" the loan with added-on fees without the borrower's knowledge. At least a day before closing, borrowers should ask to see all the loan costs.

  • Not knowing if the mortgage has a pre-payment penalty until it's too late, like, when the borrower decides to refinance or otherwise pay the mortgage off early.

  • Thinking that renting is always "just throwing money away." In the short run it can cost thousands less to rent.

  • The borrower does not know if he or she is paying a back-end yield spread or service release premium, fees paid to brokers and loan officers for making loans with higher interest rates.

  • Paying for mortgage life insurance, credit insurance or other expensive but unnecessary lender add-ons.

  • Paying hundreds of dollars to have a company set up a biweekly mortgage payment plan, something the borrower can generally do for herself or himself -- at no cost.
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Broderick Perkins

A journalist for more than 35-years, Broderick Perkins parlayed an old-school, daily newspaper career into a digital news service - Silicon Valley, CA-based DeadlineNews.Com. DeadlineNews.Com offers editorial consulting services and editorial content covering real estate, personal finance and consumer news. You can find DeadlineNews.Com on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter  and Google+

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