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Mortgage Lenders: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


It’s quite true that today’s mortgage lenders come in all varieties. The mortgage fallout of the foreclosure scandals have some people doing a double take on their lenders, both when they are buying and since they have bought. Countrywide remains as one of the ugliest mortgage lenders of the housing bust, so much so that the FBI is now investigating their lending practices for evidence of fraud. There are still good lenders out there, but it pays to scrutinize any loan offer you are signing so that you don’t get caught in perilous lending practices that can put your home on the auction block.

How to Protect Yourself

If you have a loan that is currently under any mortgage lenders under investigation, it doesn’t mean you can’t refinance with someone else. You also want to steer clear of mortgage companies that may be going bankrupt as this can block the closing of the house sale at the last minute. You want to work with a reputable lender who isn’t in financial straits, to make sure you are not faced with a lender pulling out right before the papers are signed.

Get several offers from a variety of mortgage lenders, so that you know exactly what to expect. If your realtor or builder tries to get you to sign with one lender only, then this may be a tactic to keep you uniformed. The more offers you review, the more knowledgeable about what is a good offer for your particular financial situation.

Do your own homework. Don’t expect realtors or mortgage lenders to have your best interest at heart. You need to understand the terms of the loan as clearly as possible. If you don’t, you can always attend local homeownership courses at your local community college or through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Never sign anything you don’t understand, especially if you are being pressured to do so within a short timeframe.

Never lie on your loan documents and avoid lenders that encourage you to fudge the numbers. This is an indication that you can’t afford a particular home and fudging the numbers is not likely to help you in the long run. It will, however, help the mortgage broker who makes a commission on preparing the loan documents. So, stick to the guidelines and try to stay within budget.

Avoid lenders that offer to fill in the blanks for you, just allowing you to sign on the bottom line. This can also be a practice of fraudulent “home ownership counseling” programs that make a commission on house sales in a particular area. Again, you should be the most informed consumer on how you will manage the debt of a home mortgage, not your lenders, your real estate agent, or even a counseling program.

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