Beware of “Too Good To Be True” Lenders
With the potential of a recession and rising mortgage rates; lenders are seeing fewer loan applications and many buyers are not able to qualify for legitimate loans. Homeowners are often coerced into using the equity in their homes to pay off debt, finance unexpected expenses and to cover job losses, etc.
Lenders that over promise are likely to be ones to stay away from. If you cannot qualify for a mortgage with a reputable financial institution if is best to wait to purchase a home until you can.
What Is Mortgage Fraud?
Any misrepresentation of information on a home loan application can be considered mortgage fraud, classified under Financial Institution Fraud (FIF). Mortgage fraud is typically carried out for profit or for housing.
- Mortgage scams for profit: Those who attempt mortgage fraud for financial gain are typically lenders, brokers and other entities that make false claims to obtain monetary compensation or equity from lenders and homeowners.
How To Spot Mortgage Scams
In cases of mortgage fraud for profit, scammers most commonly promise victims to save their homes from foreclosure with term modifications and debt management, or to entice buyers with free services and reduced interest rates. Scammers prey on vulnerable homeowners and prospective homeowners who lack education or financial security.
Predatory mortgage lenders will often use tactics to make their offer seem like a good deal. You may be getting scammed. The following signs may indicate mortgage fraud.
‘Too Good To Be True’ Interest Rates
Mortgage rates that are noticeably lower than market interest rates are typically a sign of various hidden fees or even a bait-and-switch tactic. Predatory lenders may try to tell you that you no longer qualify for the advertised rate, or tack on additional fees after locking in the original rate if they think they can get away with it.
Your Loan Estimate Isn’t Honored
Your Loan Estimate gives basic loan information in a standardized format from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It includes itemized costs of a loan, including fees, and is sent within 3 business days of a mortgage application. Lenders aren’t allowed to charge fees outside of the credit report fee prior to accepting the terms.
Mortgage Payment Scams
A mortgage payment should remain under 28% of your monthly income. The higher your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), the riskier you are for a mortgage lender. If your lender is recommending a type of home that requires a loan larger than 28% of your disposable income, be wary.
Overvalued property creates risk for legitimate mortgage lenders by generating an inaccurate resale valuation or an inflated borrower income that will be difficult to pay off with existing income.
Penalties For Prepayment
A prepayment penalty is charged for paying off your mortgage too quickly or for refinancing. While prepayment penalties can offer lower overall interest rates, oftentimes, they’re hidden in the fine print of agreements. As a result, many borrowers don’t realize the stipulations of the penalties and are hit down the line with fees. Generally, these penalties are included as a way for lenders to make money on interest payments at the expense of the borrower.
Your Credit Score Doesn’t Matter
Your credit score will always affect your mortgage rate, without exception. If you’re being offered a home loan that states this score won’t affect the mortgage, be wary. These tactics are typically scams that prey on low-income borrowers and generally come with undesirable terms.
Victims of predatory lending frequently describe being subjected to a flood of phone calls and letters from brokers and lenders, encouraging them to take out a home equity loan.
Red flag: Lenders who engage in high-pressure tactics, telemarketing, cold calling, and deceptive advertising campaigns.
Predatory lenders routinely charge borrowers fees totaling as much as 15% to 20% of the loan amount. Fees alone can have a ruinous impact on a homeowner’s equity. But add them to prepayment penalties and you’re locked into a high-rate, financially disastrous loan.
Red flag: You inquire about fees and charges, but you can’t get the facts. They insist there are no “upfront” fees.
You need money. You don’t have enough coming in each month to cover your expenses. You have equity in your home. A lender tells you that you could get a loan. This is a big shock because you know you will have difficulty keeping up with the payments. The lender encourages you to “pad” your income on your loan application to help get the loan approved.
Equity stripping is particularly dangerous for people who find themselves in financial trouble. Scammers target people who are facing foreclosure or other financial hardships and make false promises of relief. Beware of anyone who pops up at what seems like the perfect time promising to let you cash in the equity you’ve built up without any consequences. Falling for this scam could end up with you losing your home and all the equity you’ve accumulated.
Red flag: Any suggestion that you can qualify for a loan when you know the truth is you cannot reasonably make the payments.
You’ve fallen behind in your mortgage payments. Another lender offers to save the day by refinancing your mortgage and lowering your monthly payments. But beware. The payments may be lower because the lender is offering a loan on which you repay only the interest each month.
Red flag: Unrealistically low payments.
Senior homeowners who are asset-rich, but cash-poor are prime targets for this scam. A mortgage company contacts you offering to refinance your loan and throw in some extra cash along with it. The problem is, each time you refinance, the fees and interest rates are going up. Red flag: Lenders that contact you and any suggestion that a loan is the way to get your equity to start “working” for you.
Not all lenders are predatory. The best way to protect yourself against those who are is to be keenly aware of their tactics and always on the lookout for the red flags. If you need an explanation, talk to someone you can trust who has nothing to gain or to lose by the decision you make. Be careful how often you refinance your mortgage. Talk to a HUD-approved housing counselor (hud.gov/counseling) if you have questions or concerns about any mortgage loan transaction. Then consider all the costs of financing and repayment before you agree to a loan.