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Mortgages typically have many different owners over the years and many different servicing bureaus, so it's not difficult for a mixup to occur over your loan balance. To protect yourself, run an amortization schedule and check the loan balance reported by your lender against it.

•Keep a copy of every check you ever write for your loan.

•If you call a mortgage servicing bureau about your loan, make sure you get the full name of the person with whom you speak.

• If you find yourself in a dispute with a lender about a payment or another issue, don't send correspondence to the same address you send your payment.

•Keep an eye on how much money your bank collects to cover your annual property taxes and insurance. Lenders are allowed to collect your annual escrow needs plus one-sixth of this figure, but many over collect.

• One of the smartest things someone can do with a mortgage is to prepay on the loan. All you need to do is contact your lender and ask for its prepayment procedure. Then, once a year, check the loan balance the lender sends you to make sure the additional payments have been applied properly.

•Fee-based plans that charge $300 to $500 for administering a prepayment system are a bad idea; you can do it better and cheaper by yourself.

• If you reach 20 percent equity in your home, you can save a substantial of money by asking your lender to drop private mortgage insurance.

• Avoid paying private mortgage insurance by taking an 80 percent first mortgage and a 10 or 15 percent second mortgage.

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New Mortgage Requirements for First-Time Homebuyers

Good news for first-time homebuyers or those who don't own a home today and want to. The strict regulations that forced so many of you out of the market are easing up. Downpayments and credit score requirements are changing It's been difficult during the last 8 years for first-time homebuyers ...

Find the Best Interest Rates for a Mortgage or Refinance

It is a terrible fact of life that getting a mortgage is the biggest pain in the rear just about of any financial thing you will ever have to do. Just when you think you've given them every last document, then the lenders come up with something else you need ...


When Does a HELOC Make Sense in Your Life?

For the first time since the real estate bubble, your ability to borrow against the value of your home is returning. This is significant because over the last 8 years, there was almost no home equity line of credit (HELOC) activity and almost no second mortgage activity. But now we ...

Is a Reverse Mortgage a good deal for you?

Is a Reverse Mortgage a good deal for you?

Retired homeowners strapped for cash are turning to Reverse Mortgages. But there are large fees the celebrity spokepeople aren't telling you about...

A new fee-free mobile banking option

A new fee-free mobile banking option

Are you one of millions of Americans on the secret bank "banned list," banned from opening a new bank account? Here's a fee-free solution for you.

Do Real Estate Agents Really Matter Anymore?

With all the technology out there for home buyers and sellers, do real estate agents really matter anymore? For buyers, the research you can do online and with your phone is amazing. Apps like Redfin and HomeSnap will let you drive down a street, pull out your smartphone, aim it ...

Mortgage loans denied to expectant mothers

Mortgage loans denied to expectant mothers

Some traditional lenders are illegally denying mortgages to expectant mothers. There are better ways to get a mortgage if you're having trouble securing one.

Save Thousands on a Mortgage or Refinance

You can save thousands of dollars on a mortgage or refinance with just one simple tip. Some time ago, The Los Angeles Times  reported more than half of all people stop at one lender when they're getting quotes for a mortgage or refi. Bad idea. In one example, the difference ...

Save with these mortgage/refi alternatives

Save with these mortgage/refi alternatives

Doing a mortgage or refi? There's one common place where you don't want to go for that loan--and here are better alternatives.

Should I Pay Off My Mortgage Early?

When people ask me whether or not they should pay off their mortgage, my answer is always, unequivocally YES. There are a number of psychological and financial burdens that are lifted once that proverbial noose around the neck is loosened. There’s a world of happiness and freedom out there just ...

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