Mortgage options

Mortgage underwater? Here's how to stay afloat

4:50 PM EDT, October 21, 2011

Mortgage underwater? Here's how to stay afloat

For the millions of homeowners with mortgages underwater there are no easy answers. Should they keep paying and hope the market improves? Try for a loan modification? Cut their losses and walk away?

Credit reporting digs deeper

October 14, 2011

Mary Umberger: Credit reporting digs deeper

Sometimes it's hard to escape the notion that our lives are being slowly, inevitably reduced to a single database.

The down-payment hurdle

July 29, 2011

Mary Umberger: The down-payment hurdle

Tight credit is leaving the housing market gasping for air. That's the drum beat from many corners of the real estate industry, which has been complaining loudly that restrictive mortgage-lending standards are a leading reason housing can't seem to climb out of its very deep hole.

May 6, 2011

Mary Umberger: FICO's radar picking up potential walkaways

Your mortgage payments are up to date, and you pay your bills on time. Your credit score is above average.

Prices are low! Mortgages cheap! But you can't get one

9:58 AM EDT, April 7, 2011

Prices are low! Mortgages cheap! But you can't get one

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Yep, mortgage interest rates are low, but there's a catch: It doesn't matter how cheap rates are if you can't get a loan. The credit crunch has made it very difficult for many ordinary Americans to qualify for affordable mortgages.

ARMs offer savings, but know all the risks

March 18, 2011

ARMs offer savings, but know all the risks

Loc Chau was looking for a super-low interest rate to finance his San Jose, Calif., condominium, a place he envisions living in for a few years. Super low to him means below 4 percent.

How to polish your credit score

March 10, 2011

How to polish your credit score

Sherelle Villacorta had a good credit score, but like many people she wanted a higher score.

11:28 AM EST, November 22, 2010

Helping to weigh the options for a first-time home buyer

When mortgage shopping, most first-time home buyers opt for loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration that generally carry lower down-payment and credit-score requirements than so-called conventional home loans.

Figure financing

Figure financing

Throughout this year and last, financial consultant Jim Stoops of the Naperville office of Charles Schwab has come away impressed by many of the 60-, 70- and even 80-year-old individuals he has counseled. These are people who decades ago took on mortgages they could afford, and viewed the houses they purchased not as places that could make them money, but in which to live and raise kids. These are the very people who now are able to weather the financial crisis without fear they will lose their homes.

June 1, 2008


Weathering the storm

When first-time buyer John Grooms went to arrange financing for his three-bedroom house in Island Lake, he tapped a source that is roaring back in popularity in the wake of the credit crisis: the Federal Housing Authority.

May 18, 2008


Even in this climate, there's no rule like an old rule

Whether you're a buyer, seller or borrower, chances are you're confused.

March 9, 2008


A changing landscape on home valuations

What beige does for interiors, green does for exteriors.

March 16, 2008


Sale ain't over till it's closed

In this market, sellers have to be patient.

November 25, 2007


Foreclosure can open doors too

It's not surprising that one segment of the housing market -- foreclosed properties -- is stirring interest.

November 18, 2007


Don't let credit score decide financial path

I always cancel credit cards I've stopped using, even if closing the accounts hurts my credit score by raising my debt-to-credit ratio. Why keep unneeded accounts open and risk identity theft?

November 4, 2007


Buyer's market is not always what it seems

This story contains corrected material, published Nov. 18, 2007.

October 14, 2007


Of closing costs, lending to kin

Some advice on paying for credit reports and closing costs and helping out in a mortgage crisis:

September 2, 2007


It pays to be realistic about what you can afford

Home buying has gone from being a "sure thing" to what seems like a scary gamble.

September 9, 2007


Hurdles not insurmountable

The housing market is a game of dominoes.

April 22, 2007


Incentives help to seal deal

These days, determined sellers aren't concerned with just curb appeal. They're also trying to spruce up a buyer's financing package.

May 12, 2008

Wedding expos now offer mortgages, too

As they seek ways to offset the downturn in home sales, real estate and mortgage brokers have recently started courting first-time buyers among the newly engaged -- at wedding expos and on wedding Web sites.

May 11, 2008

Look before slamming it into reverse

Reverse mortgages are held out as an excellent way for house-rich, cash-poor seniors to tap into their equity without having to sell and move. And they may well be a good choice for some people. But they are not the only option.

May 4, 2008

Higher credit score now norm in prime lending

With the resurgence of tighter underwriting standards, some mortgage-market observers have been predicting that lenders would again rely more on a would-be borrower's overall worthiness and less on his credit score. But if anything, credit scores have become more critical.

May 4, 2008

Say goodbye to the specialized mortgage options

Like a spreading infection, restrictions on credit are moving into new and more specialized niches of the mortgage market.

April 25, 2008


Once loan is OK'd, it's best to lock rates

Home purchasers sometimes get into trouble because they are not clued into the sequence of steps involved in financing their purchase. These are qualification, preapproval, approval and lock.

April 20, 2008

Credit getting even tighter for condominium buyers

If you own or plan to buy a condo, a new phase of the mortgage credit squeeze could be looming.

March 30, 2008

Options eyed for rating credit

Don't be surprised if a lender wants to know if you pay your rent on time or bounce checks before it will let you borrow money.

March 9, 2008

A mortgage of convenience

For first-time home buyers Joshua and Latoya Washington, the mid-February arrival of their high-efficiency furnace was a cause for celebration -- sweet reward for pursuing an energy-efficient mortgage.

February 24, 2008


Loan programs offer hope for niche borrowers

Lenders want to see borrowers with ample incomes, down payments and polished credit.

December 2, 2007

Looking for mortgage? Find the right niche

Despite the meltdown in the subprime-mortgage sector, lenders continue to devise new and unusual ways to finance niche borrowers.

November 18, 2007

Which is just right?

There it sits, like a big, inviting slice of cake at the all-you-can-eat-buffet: The heaping helping of mortgage that a lender says you're qualified to borrow. Should you put it on your plate?

November 18, 2007

A calculated way to consider a loan

When it comes to comparing the true cost of one mortgage to another, there are three ways to go: bad, better and best.

November 4, 2007

Who's got your back in mortgage deal's closing?

A new disclosure form is in the works that could go a long way toward letting borrowers know where their mortgage originator's allegiance lies.

September 30, 2007

Loan pipeline shaken not severed

The term "mortgage meltdown" has become so common -- on TV, in headlines and even in casual conversations -- you might assume that this is a tough time to get a mortgage.

September 30, 2007

Plenty of incentive to comparison shop

It would be folly for new-home buyers not to at least consider using the mortgage company affiliated with their builder. After all, research shows those who use the in-house lender are more than satisfied than those who go elsewhere for financing.

September 23, 2007


Going 'green' can mean getting green

Environmentally conscious homeowners can trick out their homes with a bevy of "green" products, including carpets, windows -- even dog beds. Now, they can pay for those homes with green mortgages.

September 16, 2007


Ways to beat borrowing the blues

It doesn't sound like there's a credit crunch when Paul Watts describes the financing package he'll have when he closes on a Chicago condo at year-end.

August 26, 2007


Mortgage boat has holes, but is still afloat

From the headlines, you might think that lenders will never offer another mortgage.

August 24, 2007

Lenders putting brakes on popular home deal

In the latest sign that the nationwide credit crunch is worsening, lenders are saying no to borrowers who want no-money-down mortgages.

August 24, 2007

Lenders tighten mortgage rules

It takes more than good credit to get a mortgage these days.

August 24, 2007

Reverse loan concept gaining momentum

Home may be where the heart is, but it's also where the money is for millions of seniors.

August 19, 2007

Tighter credit rolls up welcome mats

The mortgage credit crunch not only is affecting interest rates that home buyers are quoted, but it also is triggering changes in less visible areas such as minimum credit scores, geographic location and type of properties, even controls on who orders credit reports.

August 17, 2007

Some types of mortgages are vanishing from the housing market

In the last decade, mortgage borrowers have been able to choose from a fast-growing array of loans. But now that investors have soured on mortgages, that situation has changed.

August 12, 2007


Uncertain times prove application ain't over till it's over

Home buyers and refinancers beware: The mortgage business is experiencing turbulence -- so the loan commitment you thought was solid could come unhinged.

July 29, 2007

Many borrowers simply not ready for prime time

In today's mortgage market, "subprime" has become something of a four-letter word, with the popular misconception being that anyone with less than a prime loan is some kind of derelict.

July 27, 2007


Getting a mortgage still feasible

True, mortgage foreclosures are rising and many home buyers with subprime loans are in trouble. But, "the sky is not falling in," says Bill McNamee, president of the Illinois Association of Mortgage Brokers.

July 27, 2007

More borrowers seeking a longer-term mortgage

Stan Powell recently ditched his adjustable-rate mortgage for a traditional and far more predictable loan that would lock in his rate for 15 years.

July 15, 2007


'Backward' move can pay off

Like millions of Americans, Bill and Helen Bluett's greatest financial asset is their home, a Spanish-style dwelling just a quarter of a mile from the ocean in San Clemente, Calif.

July 15, 2007

Lew Sichelman, United Feature Syndicate

Measuring the safety of reverse loans

With an estimated 77 million Baby Boomers about to hit their golden years, the reverse-mortgage market is heating up.

July 15, 2007

Lending giants offer more ways to slam it into reverse

How are Baby Boomers carrying hefty first and second mortgages going to pay them off?

July 13, 2007

Higher mortgage rates hit sales

The unusually low interest rates of the last three years have been an enormous boon to almost every corner of the U.S. economy.

July 1, 2007

Dig into the old financing toolbox

If real estate finance is the art of the possible, what's possible for buyers and sellers worried about rising mortgage rates, bond market jitters and soft home prices?

June 29, 2007

Mortgage rates spurring some buyers to act now

Mortgage rates are nearing a five-year high, raising the cost of home ownership for buyers by hundreds or thousands of dollars a year at a time when real estate markets are struggling with tepid demand and a surplus of houses for sale.

June 24, 2007

Mortgages: Signed, sealed, bewildered

Signing the mortgage paperwork is the castor oil of the home-buying process: Open mouth. Gulp it down. Mutter, "Yecch, glad that's over with."

June 8, 2007

With mortgage options growing, buyers must remain on guard

The way lenders help Americans buy homes has gotten a lot more confusing since the housing boom and the subsequent bottoming out.

June 1, 2007

Private mortgage insurance is regaining popularity

Private mortgage insurance is making a comeback.

May 27, 2007


Tips for 2-credit-score couples

Ann Fleming has a theory about relationships, gleaned from the many couples she's counseled: Opposites attract.

May 18, 2007

Mortgage market is tightening for buyers

The meltdown in the subprime mortgage sector is making it harder for first-time and other home buyers with little down payment money to get even conventional loans, adding more troubles to a slumping real estate market.

May 13, 2007


A real no-fee mortgage? So says Bank of America

Home loan industry competitors are searching for gimmicks, but Bank of America insists that its "No Fee Mortgage Plus" plan announced May 8 delivers what the name implies -- without raising interest rates to applicants.

May 13, 2007

Would-be borrowers are getting no credit

With a second child on the way, Chris Shields and his wife, Michelle, wanted to move from their two-bedroom apartment in Southern California to a house with more space.

May 10, 2007


How to get a deal in a buyer's market

Are you planning to buy a home in an area that happens to have a glut of "For Sale" signs? If so, you may be in luck, says Sid Davis, author of "A Survival Guide for Buying a Home."

April 5, 2007


Applications decline as rates edge higher

Mortgage-loan-application volume fell last week, and mortgage rates edged higher, an industry group said Wednesday.

January 14, 2007

Shop smarter for a mortgage

Brian Diez, a former military man, entered the mortgage business after a career as a stockbroker, figuring the field would offer him an altruistic benefit -- helping families buy their first homes. He learned quickly, however, that not every one of his fellow brokers had their clients' best interests at heart.

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