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Mortgage
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What You Need to Know About Choosing a Mortgage

These are the top mortgage lenders on the market today. Read on for in-depth details on features, plans and pricing.

LendingTree

  • Minimum Down Payment: 0%-20% minimums based on loan type
  • Minimum Credit Score: 500+ 
  • Featured Loans: FHA, USDA, VA, jumbo, conventional
  • Repayment Terms: 10-,15-, 20-, 30- years fixed-rate, 5/1, 7/1 ARM

LendingTree has become a major online lender by allowing users to compare lenders side by side within minutes of going on the site. The ability to so quickly and thoroughly compare lenders can make LendingTree a smart option when you start looking for a mortgage. 

LendingTree estimates that the entire application should take about 10 minutes, though if you run into any problems you can easily contact customer service for assistance. Checking your options will not affect your credit score and there are no fees charged by LendingTree, so testing the waters here is risk free. You can also make use of the company’s loan calculators to see how different mortgage terms would play out for you. 

There are hundreds of lenders on LendingTree’s network, offering 15 and 30 year fixed mortgages, as well as 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. 

The company doesn’t require a minimum credit score, and the only requirements for LendingTree are that you are a US citizen or permanent resident, at least 18 years old, have a verified bank account and a steady source of income. It’s worth noting though that the lower your credit score, the worse the loan terms you can expect to receive, which can really add up over the lifetime of the loan. 

In addition, because the company can work with government loans like FHA, USDA, and VA loans, users who don’t have the money for a down payment can use the site to find a mortgage. 

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LendingTree LendingTree Visit Site

J.G. Wentworth Home Lending

  • Minimum Down Payment: As low as 3.5%
  • Minimum Credit Score: 630+ 
  • Featured Loans: VA, FHA, HARP
  • Repayment Terms: Fixed terms of 15, 20, and 30 years

JG Wentworth runs an all-online lending operation that can help all types of customers make their way through the mortgage process smoothly. After finishing the paperwork online you can see different loan options that can get you inside a house of your own. The company can also provide prepaid credit cards in addition to structured settlements and pre-settlement cash loans. 

JG Wentworth is a very solid option for someone who has good credit (680-699), and while the website does not’ include a chart it does have a calculator. According to the calculator, a person who put 5% down on a $350,000 house can get a 30 year fixed mortgage with 4.520% APR, or a 15-year mortgage with 3.910% APR. If you have less than ideal credit or little or no money for a down payment, you could be in luck because JG Wentworth can underwrite VA, FHA, and USDA loans, so you can potentially get in a house with zero down payment.

The company has also earned a good reputation for customer service and customers can easily  reach a representative who can help them out with their loan process, as part of a approach of providing “flexible options so that you can tackle anything life throws your way.”

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J.G. Wentworth J.G. Wentworth Visit Site

AmeriSave 

  • Minimum Down Payment: 0-20%
  • Minimum Credit Score: 600+
  • Featured Loans: VA, FHA, USDA, Jumbo
  • Repayment Terms: 10-, 25-, or 3-year fixed rate, 5- and 7-year adjustable rate

Customers looking for a full-service online mortgage application process should definitely consider AmeriSave, which funds billions of dollars worth of mortgages across nearly the entire United States. 

The company is a convenient option for people looking for a full-service mortgage lender and a simple, straightforward application process. The process is done online or on the phone, and it’s worth noting that it does require a hard credit pull—unlike some competitors.

The company works with people with less than ideal credit (600 and up) and if you are running into walls because you can’t scrape together a down payment, know that AmeriSave works with VA,FHA, USDA, and Jumbo loans—so you can get in a mortgage with little or no down payment. When it comes to credit, it’s not a one-size-fits-all sort of measurement, and some loans like Jumbo loans may require a higher credit score.  

On the AmeriSave website, you can apply for loans via several channels at the same time, saving you time and headaches. There is also a significant amount of flexibility with the loans, which can be stretched over terms ranging from 15 to 30 years. That said, the company does not offer loans for manufactured homes and if you are looking for a home equity loan or lines of credit, you’ll have to look elsewhere.  There is no 24/7 live customer support but Amerisave representatives have received high customer ratings for service. You can also find answers to most questions in the website’s FAQ section, and the company also features a variety of blog posts and articles on mortgages and lending on the website to help you make informed decisions. 

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Amerisave Amerisave Visit Site

What You Need to Know About Mortgages

Everybody’s dream is different and there’s no one-size fits all mortgage solution for everybody. You may prefer a shorter term loan with bigger payments and lower interest rates, or a longer term loan where you pay more interest over time but the monthly payment is lower. Each mortgage agreement has its own pros and cons, and it’s up to you to weigh it all before you sign on the dotted line and get the keys to your dream house. Buying a house is the biggest purchase most homeowners make, so here are some insights to guide you and offer you some peace of mind.

How to Find the Best Lender

Learning the ropes of what you are looking for can help you narrow down the various mortgage lender options. Examine your own requirements to narrow down the pool, and read up about the lenders’ reputations, mortgage rates and service.

1. Compare the types of lenders

Before you try to tackle the lending world, get some intel. Figure out all the different types of lenders you can access - be they online lenders, your local bank branch, or a credit union. What are the pros and cons of each style lender, what are their mortgage rates like, and what makes you feel the most comfortable. 

2. Read reviews

Look at reviews for the various lenders and compare the average interest rates and APRs for each lender and see if you can get some interim quotes online which you can then take to your chosen lender for negotiation of the rates you’ll be offered.

3. Get to know your budget and credit score

Once you’ve gotten the general numbers from lender reviews, take some time to play around with online mortgage calculators to get an idea of what type of property and terms you can afford and what your personal mortgage rates will look like. Know which lenders will offer you what you’re looking for per your credit history.

4. Consider customer service access

Think about what kind of customer service will make you comfortable and give you the assistance that you need. Will you want a personal agent or 24/7 chat? Are you comfortable entirely online or would you prefer a person to talk to face to face? Top mortgage companies offer a wide range of contact options, hours and locations.

5. Improve your credit

If you’re having a hard time getting approved by the best mortgage lenders, try to find ways to improve your credit score by paying off outstanding debt if possible so that you can try again in the near future. This will not only free up money for a down payment, it will also tell lenders that you are a secure borrower and this can help you get better terms and interest rates for your mortgage.   

How to Apply for a Mortgage

Think of a mortgage like this - it’s your chance to buy and own property that would be unattainable as an up front purchase and to build equity and value in that home. You’ll need to show that you have the financial means necessary to make the payments, but you don’t need to pay the value of a home in cash, allowing you to afford the home of your dreams through financing.

Step 1: Choose a lender

When going through the application process, don’t limit yourself to just one lender. Speak to a number of lenders so that you can see who offers the best interest rates, terms and customer service that suits your needs. In addition, once you have an idea of what to expect from lenders, you’ll have a better idea if potential lenders are giving you a good deal or not.

Step 2: Show your sources of income by supplying these documents:

  • Bank statements, including any investment accounts
  • Private and business related tax returns
  • W2 Tax forms from recent years
  • Your monthly pay stubs

Step 3: Prioritize the terms that work for you

Some people are most interested in keeping their monthly payments low, while others are interested in making sure their payments don’t fluctuate and they’ll know what to expect for the years to come. Still others look toward paying off their mortgage quickly and building equity in the home. Think about what you need and which terms might be to your advantage--interest rates are important, but not the only consideration.

What to Look for When Choosing a Mortgage

Take a deep breath and kick back for a second. Signing a mortgage, especially if it’s the first time you’re buying a home, is one of the biggest financial decisions you can make in your life and it’s not something you should rush into. You can relax though, knowing that you’ve done your homework.  

Bigger payments or more interest?

One of the central questions when considering any mortgage is length of term versus size of payments. If you put down a bigger down payment and agree to bigger payments over a shorter loan term, you will pay less interest over the lifetime of the loan. That said, you will also have a higher monthly payment, so make sure this is something you can keep up with. The central question in this calculation is whether or not you’d prefer to pay less interest over the loan term, or would rather have somewhat more interest over a longer term, in exchange for a monthly payment that’s easier to make. This is a decision only you can make, and one that’s best done after taking a comprehensive look at your finances, long term plans and the mortgage lenders and rates available.

Fixed vs Adjustable rate mortgages

With a fixed rate mortgage, the monthly payments are locked in for the entire loan term, which can help you plan your month-to-month expenses. A variable rate mortgage can adjust in keeping with changes in mortgage rates, potentially saving you money on the interest during the repayment period. Consider which is best for you, and don’t rush it.

Processing fees and penalties

Will you have to pay origination fees on the loan, and if so, how much? If you decide that you’d like to pay the mortgage off early, will there be a penalty fee? The sum cost of the interest, payments, and other fees forms what’s known as the annual percentage rate (APR), which is the total cost of the loan per year. Take a look at all of the fine print, and then you’ll get a clearer idea of the entire cost of the loan.

Types of Mortgage Loans

There is a wide variety of online mortgage loans available on the market. The 2 main types are fixed rate loans and adjustable rate loans. Fixed options keep the same interest rate for the entire duration of the loan, and will not fluctuate from month to month or year to year. Adjustable rate mortgages are just that – they adjust at predetermined intervals over time, but with a lower beginning interest rate than fixed loans. Fixed rate loans afford the borrower security and stability – though they will start higher than adjustable mortgages.

Fixed rate mortgages

These tend to be one of the most popular choices for first-time buyers with lenders for first time buyers offering them to those planning to stay in a house for the long-term or duration of the home loan.

Adjustable rate mortgages

This option is best for buyers who plan to stay only a few years in the property, in that for the first few years the loan has a lower interest than that of fixed rate mortgages. Adjustable rate loans do carry risk though – if the value of the house plummets and your mortgage interest rates increase dramatically you may not be able to refinance for better mortgage rates or sell the home.

Two-step mortgages

These have a fixed interest rate for an initial period of time, which changes at a predetermined date. The second mortgage rate will be adjusted to the market at the time of the shift, which can work to your advantage or detriment. When the rate shifts, the borrower has the ability to decide between a fixed or variable interest rate for the duration of the loan.

Balloon mortgages

Balloon mortgages have much shorter terms and begin with a fixed rate of regular payments and fixed interest rates for a predetermined period of time. After this it “balloons” and the rest of the remaining balance is payable with a one-time payment at the end of the loan term. Though this sort of loan entails lower interest rates in the initial years, it requires the borrower to gamble that they will have the funds to make the large payment at the end of the loan period, which often hinges on their financial situation remaining stable, or the property maintaining its value.

In addition, there are conventional loans – which are not guaranteed by the government – and options such as Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veterans Affairs (VA), and Department of Housing and Urban Development loans (HUD), which may be an option for borrowers who qualify.

Reverse mortgages

If you’re an older homeowner, you may want to consider a reverse mortgage. Now, this isn’t what it sounds like - the bank isn’t paying you to live at your house. Rather, it’s a form of home equity loan that's geared toward older homeowners. The borrower remains the owner of the property and is not required to make monthly payments until they move out or pass away. Reverse mortgages have proven to be a reliable way for older homeowners to increase their monthly cash flow.

VA and FHA loans

Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Affairs loans are government supported loans that can help first time home buyers secure a mortgage. VA loans are for military personnel and can get you a fixed rate mortgage with zero down payment. These loans also have relaxed qualifying standards, though they come with a VA funding fee that can range from between 0.4% - 3.3%.

With an FHA loan you’ll need to put  down at least 3.5%, and will need to pay mortgage insurance premiums for at least 5 years. That said, these loans also come with lower qualifying standards, including credit scores as low as 580. 

What is Mortgage Refinancing?

Simply put, refinancing a mortgage is a way for you to get new mortgage rates and terms that work better for you. With a refinanced mortgage, the lender pays off your previous home loan completely and you are left with the refinanced mortgage.

In order to refinance, you will need to go through basically the same process as when you received the initial mortgage. You will need to have your home appraised, submit financial documents, and pay closing costs to complete the process.

Why do people refinance their mortgages? The main reason is to reach terms that are better for them. For instance, if your monthly mortgage payment is too high, then refinancing can be a way to get some relief. You can also refinance in order to switch from adjustable to fixed mortgage rates, or refinance in order to use your home equity to pay for other expenses in your life.

Rates

The great news for prospective homeowners is that home loan rates are currently at one of the lowest levels in decades, hovering at below 4% for 30-year and 15-year-fixed rate mortgage loans. With additional options for 10-year mortgages and 20-year loans as well, and mortgage rates at their current low, this may be a great time to lock down a fixed rate option. Ask the best mortgage companies for their rates through online quote calculators or customer service agents.

Regulations

There are a number of laws and regulations in place in the US to protect borrowers which all reputable mortgage companies will follow. On the federal level, these include a series of laws such as the Truth in Lending Act – which establishes disclosure requirements for lenders – and the Fair Housing Act, which bans discrimination based upon age, race, gender, religion, or nationality. Federal and state regulations are meant to uphold fairness in the lending process, and also to safeguard the financial information of home loan borrowers.

Before taking out a loan, it is important for you to know the relevant state and federal regulations that apply to it and that your mortgage lender adheres to them. These laws protect and help the borrower know their money and property are secure.

Important Information

Regardless of the length, 10-, 15- or 30-year mortgages all require repayment. Once you’ve bought your home, that property and its equity value are yours to borrow against, sell for profit, renovate, or pass to your children. A home loan gives borrowers ownership opportunities, so take a look at the best lenders to find the mortgage rates and terms that work for you and your dream home.

Refine Results

Loan Purpose
Which type of loan are you looking for?
  • Purchase
  • Refinance
  • Reverse Mortgage
Credit Score
What is your personal credit score?
  • Excellent (720-850)
  • Good (690-719)
  • Fair (630-689)
  • Poor (350-629)
Reset

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