7. How to get a great deal on a mortgage

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By Money Magazine staff

Think a mortgage broker will find you the best deal? Ha! A recent study by the Department of Housing and Urban Development found that a broker adds 27%, on average, to a loan's fees. Here's how to cut out the middleman.

  • Step 1 Go to the mortgage section at bankrate.com. Plug in where you live and the size and type of mortgage you're looking for. You'll get a table listing the lenders in your area and the terms they're offering.
  • Step 2 Sort the list by APR (annual percentage rate), not by listed rate or estimated monthly payment. You won't get a realistic picture of a loan's full cost otherwise.
  • Step 3 Print out the list and start narrowing it down. Eliminate loans that have higher than usual up-front fees. If you're looking at adjustable-rate mortgages, compare their rate caps, since that will tell you how much - and how quickly - your rate could rise in the future.
  • Step 4 Pick three finalists for your mortgage beauty contest, then apply to those three lenders on the same day (it's usually free). That way you'll get an apples-to-apples comparison.
  • Step 5 A few days later, when you've received a good-faith estimate from each lender, do a side-by-side comparison to find the lowest-cost loan. Focus on the fees charged directly by the lender - for stuff like loan origination, underwriting and document preparation - not by third parties (like title insurance or appraisal), which you may be able to find on your own. Pick your winner, and sleep well knowing you got the best deal anyone could. --G.M.


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