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6 things you must know before you buy

Mortgage regulations have changed…. “Subtle changes in the way you approach mortgage shopping, and even small differences in the way you structure your mortgage, can cost or save you literally thousands of dollars and years of expense.”

Mortgage regulations have changed significantly over the last few years, making your options wider than ever. Subtle changes in the way you approach mortgage shopping, and even small differences in the way you structure your mortgage, can cost or save you literally thousands of dollars and years of expense.

Get the right information

Whether you are about to buy your first home, or are planning to make a move to your next home, it is critical that you inform yourself about the factors involved.

Industry research has revealed that there are 6 common mistakes that most homebuyers make in mortgage shopping that can have a significant impact on the outcome of this critical negotiation. If handled correctly, these issues could result in a mortgage that will cost you less over a shorter period of time.

Before you commit your hard-earned dollars to monthly mortgage payments, consider these 6 issues. Effective consideration of these important areas can make your payments work much harder for you.

1. You can, and should get pre-approved for a mortgage before you go looking for a home.

Pre-approval is easy, and can give you complete peace-of-mind when shopping for your home. Mortgage brokers can obtain written pre-approval for you at no cost and no obligation, and it can all be done quite easily over-the-phone. More than just a verbal approval from your lending institution, a written pre-approval is as good as money in the bank. It entails a complete credit application, and a certificate, which guarantees you a mortgage to the specified level when you find the home you’re looking for.

2. Know what monthly dollar amount you feel comfortable committing to.

When you discuss mortgage pre-approval with your mortgage broker, find out what level you qualify for, but also pre-assess for yourself what monthly dollar amount you feel comfortable committing to. Your situation may give you a pre-approval amount that is higher (or lower) than the amount of money you would want to pay out each month. By working back and forth with your mortgage broker to determine what this monthly amount is, and what value of home this translates into, at today’s rates, you won’t waste time looking at homes that are not in your price range.

3. You should be thinking about your long-term goals, and expected situation, to determine the type of mortgage that will best suit your needs.

There are a number of questions you should be asking yourself before you commit to a certain type of mortgage. How long do you think you will own this home? What direction are interest rates going in, and how quickly? Is your income expected to change (up or down) in the near term, impacting how much money you can afford to pay to your mortgage? The answers to these and other questions will help you determine the most appropriate mortgage you should be seeking.

4. Make sure you understand what prepayment privileges and payment frequency options are available to you.

More frequent payments (for example weekly or bi-weekly) can literally shave years off your mortgage. Simply by structuring your payments so that they come out more frequently, you will significantly lessen the amount of interest that you will be charged over the term.

For the same reason, authorized pre-payment of a certain percentage of your mortgage, or an increase in the amount you pay monthly, will have a major impact on the number of years you will have to pay.

These two payment options can cut years off your mortgage, and save you thousands of dollars in interest. However, not every mortgage has these pre-payment privileges built in, so make sure you ask the proper questions.

5. Make sure your mortgage is both portable and assumable.

A portable mortgage is one that you can carry with you when you buy your next home and avoid paying any discharge penalties. This means that you will not have to go through the entire mortgage process again unless you are making a move up to a much more expensive home.

An assumable mortgage is one that the buyer for your home can take over when you move to your next home. This can be a very powerful tool at the negotiating table making it much easier and more desirable for a buyer to buy your home, and again saves you any discharge penalties.

6. You should seriously consider dealing with a mortgage broker.

Mortgage brokers are the best-kept secret in the industry. While enlisting their services can make a significant difference in the cost and effectiveness of the mortgage you obtain, you don’t pay the broker for his or her services, as they are paid by the lender. This valuable service is extended to you at absolutely no cost and no obligation.

Mortgage brokers act like advocates holding the borrower’s hand through the application and approval process, advising on how to raise a down payment, and pitting several banks, trust companies and other lenders against each other to get the best deal.

Many mortgage brokers can undercut the banks’ rates due to the volume of deals they negotiate.

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