Wednesday, February 18, 2009

First Home Buyers' Guide To Choosing The Right Mortgage

Selecting the right mortgage package as a Minnesota first time home buyer can be a confusing process, and working with a mortgage loan officer isn't always the best way to get the mortgage loan that you can afford. One of the biggest mistakes that first time is to sign on the loan that they qualify for, instead of taking a smaller loan that they can actually afford.

How does this happen? Loan officers will qualify you for a loan based on your income ratio and not necessarily how much you're prepaid to pay in housing payments each month. If you borrow the entire loan amount that you "qualify" for, it's likely that your monthly payment will be pushing your monthly budget to the max.

Setting your own limits for the loan will help you resist the temptation to just borrow up to the limit that your loan officers offer s and help you stay within a comfortable housing expense range based on your income level. Here are some more tips for selecting the mortgage for your new home purchase:

1. Consider the tax benefits. Some mortgages are 'interest only' loans which means you can deduct the entire payment on your taxes for that year. However, loans that are designed with a negative amortization scale won't allow you to deduct interest from your monthly payment.

2. Evaluate the long-term advantages. Whether you're planning to live in your home for 30 years and more or not, it is still advisable to know the pros and cons of your mortgage package. A fixed interest rate loan is somewhat higher in amount but unlike ARM and other loan products, it can safeguard you from changing market conditions. But a fixed interest loan also has its limitations. Smart Consumer's Guide to Home Buying's author, Barron, proposes that the fixed interest rate may increase your payments because of the demands of the escrow account linked with it.

3. Inquire about flexible payment options. Some home mortgage loans allow you to make extra payments towards the principal balance without paying a penalty, which means you can start paying down your mortgage when you have extra funds at your disposal. Find out if your loan products offer this type of flexibility so you can start paying down and be free of debt sooner than later.

4. Look for ways to keep payments low. Even when the lender offers you a large loan, consider cutting back on the loan amount so that you can keep the payments within an affordable range. A low interest rate, long loan term, and the ability to make interest-only payments are a few ways to keep payments as low as possible and within your budget range.

5. Apply for mortgage insurance. Most first time home buyers do not have a lot of money available for the down payment, which can make a big difference to the loan amount and monthly payments. Mortgage insurance can provide for your down payment, or in some cases, allow you to apply for an attractive loan product without having to make any type of down payment.