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Credit Help For Mortgage Financing Beware Of Predatory Lenders
Financing a new mortgage? Beware of "predatory lenders."
In November 2005, Montgomery County, Maryland's county council enacted legislation to expand the categories of discriminatory lending activities associated with discriminatory housing practices and increased the maximum fine for such activities from $5,000 to $500,000. The council sited practices such as charging inordinate amounts for prepayment penalties, points, and fees; steering borrowers toward more expensive mortgages; and refinancing existing mortgages with new ones that borrowers won't be able to repay based on their income or credit.
Predatory lenders typically target what?s known as the nonprime mortgage market, where people with blemished credit records try to borrow money for homes in less desirable neighborhoods, which means that it's often minority groups, such as African-Americans and Latinos, who are the victims of predatory lending practices.
However, February 2006, the American Financial Services Association (AFSA), challenged the ruling, contending that only the state has the power to enact legislation regarding mortgage lending practices--although the AFSA went on record as opposing discriminatory and abusive lending practices. The new law was supposed to take effect the second week in March, but mortgage lender lawyers persuaded a judge to delay the new law, pending a hearing. So it's yet to be determined if the Montgomery County law will remain on the books.
Regardless of the outcome in Montgomery County, however, predatory lending practices are illegal in most states. The Center for Responsible Lending describes a number of such practices on their website. Some of them include loan flipping, in which the borrower is forced to refinance a loan, sometimes several times, solely for the purpose of generating new fees for the lending institution. Another common practice is insisting that borrowers also purchase such things as credit life insurance or other products--again, primarily designed to generate more income for the lender.
The bottom line is that there are lending institutions that make a great deal of money by charging extra fees to those borrowers who can least afford them, thereby either depriving those borrowers of the American dream of home ownership or, worse yet, setting them up for eventual foreclosure.
As the real estate market slows down and interest rates creep up, it's more important than ever to become a knowledgeable consumer. Learn the basics of mortgage lending, so you'll know when you're being charged too much for a loan or for things you don't need. Shop around to see what's available, and then make sure you're comfortable with your loan payment, because you'll be paying that amount for many years.
Copyright © 2006 Jeanette J. Fisher
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