Clark Howard: Shop around for your mortgage

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It is a terrible fact of life that getting a mortgage is the biggest pain 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 to supply!

The difficulty of getting a mortgage has created a situation where people don’t even shop for a mortgage anymore. I’ve heard anecdotally that half of all people refinancing or getting a mortgage today only go to one lender. There’s no thought to even make a second phone call.

But that’s throwing money away. Last time I got a mortgage, I took a recommendation from the real estate agent as many people do. But I also got several other quotes.

The loan offer from the person who came recommended to me was significantly more expensive than another quote I got on my own. Ultimately, the first guy was able to match the better offers, so I went with him. But had I not gone out and shopped, I would have paid more than I wound up paying.

Now there is a new beta site from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to help you shop for a mortgage or refinance. One of their tools will help you figure out what loan offers should be available to you. There are also guides that walk you through how to understand the loan terms.

But the tool from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau is an opportunity to know how to shop for the best interest rates, to understand the various loans offered and to know what it is you’re being asked to sign.
It’s a step-by-step guide that the banks probably hate. They’d rather you didn’t know this stuff so they can rip you off.

Clark Howard — Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs — for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Find more answers to your consumer questions at Clark’s website

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