Whether you are ready to get your first mortgage, or you are a seasoned veteran of the mortgage game, there are a lot of tips you can use to help keep your mortgage rates low and your total costs associated with the mortgage note low. Many of these tips only take a few minutes and can help save you thousands of dollars over the life of the mortgage note!

First, like with any other purchase – shop around! Talk to several lenders and brokers about what they can offer you. You’ll find that you can often find a lot of competition amongst mortgage lenders even during tough economic times. If you have a stellar credit rating you will often find that the mortgage writers want your business no matter what the economy is doing and will fight for it – which is always an advantage for you! Some people chose to go to mortgage brokers to help them shop for a good deal. Brokers don’t loan you the money directly, but rather work with lenders to find you the best deal possible. It’s important, though, to ask them how they get paid and who they work with. You want to find a broker who can work with a wide variety of lending institutions and who isn’t paid by the lender (at least not totally). In this way it ensures they are looking out for your interests and not just their own financial gain.

Next, get a list of all the fees and other costs associated with the mortgage. Don’t be afraid to question fees or ask for them to be lowered. You typically won’t get every fee changed but you will be surprised how much can be changed by just asking. Be on the lookout for any extraordinarily high fees that seem out of place. Don’t let the money you save in interest be eaten through outrageous fees!

Watch out for PMI! PMI, or Private Mortgage Insurance, is typically required when you have less than 20% equity in your home. It’s an insurance policy that protects the lender from you not paying your note. It’s one of the many reasons why you should always strive to put down the largest down payment you can comfortably afford. If you can only afford to put down say 18% of the purchase price ask your lender about doing away with PMI. The 20% rule isn’t written in stone, and mortgage lenders will work with those who have good financial track records.

Once you find the rates you like on the terms you like it is important to lock in the mortgage. Always be sure to get everything in writing – verbal agreements just won’t do. Interest rates can change overnight and fees can mysteriously go up when it comes time to sign the final papers. Be locking in rates and other fees now you can avoid the hassle of having to go through it all again at closing time.

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