Which Lender for What?

For a home equity line of credit, the best place to start is your own bank or credit union. Both usually offer lower rates to depositors. Check other sources to be sure. If you get a second mortgage, refinance, or opt for an FHA 203(k) mortgage, you're better off talking with a mortgage broker. A broker has more loan sources to choose from. When looking for a broker, check with people you know, and check any references you get. Contractors are another source of financing, but be wary: It's hard enough to choose a contractor and a loan when they're separate. And be suspicious of contractors who emphasize the monthly payment instead of the total cost of the job. A borrower's bill of rights. Article Z of the federal Truth in Lending Act makes sizing up lenders and loans easier. It requires lenders to disclose interest rate, terms, costs, and variable-rate features in a total APR, a bottom line you can use to compare loans. Here are some other rights to remember:

• If a mortgage lender does not disclose the APR, any application fees must be refunded. You usually get these disclosures on a form with your loan application. If any terms change before closing, the lender must return all fees if the changes make you decide not to proceed.

• You have three days from the day of closing to cancel. Inform the lender in writing within that period and fees are refunded.

Finally, compare those fees carefully. When you meet with a lender, up-front costs will start with a credit report running $50 to $80 and possibly an appraisal, which should cost less than $300. Some lenders use your property-tax valuation, others won't. Often, you can reduce lending fees in a competitive market. And if you're asked for a nonrefundable application fee, beware; reputable lenders try to keep up-front fees low.
Ask TOH users about Home & Real Estate

Contribute to This Story Below