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Mortgage 101: All the Help Topics You Need to Read Under One Roof

help wanted

Getting a mortgage can be complicated, I know because I used to work directly in the business.

For that reason (and many others), I recommend that you learn as much as possible about the process before even thinking about buying a piece of property.

After all, it is likely the largest purchase you’ll ever make, so why not take the time to make sense of it all (beforehand, not during, or worse, after)?

Mortgage Help Categories

Types of Mortgages to Choose From (and How They Work)
The Home Loan Process from Start to Finish
Mortgage Calculators Are Helpful, Use Them
Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Mortgage Rates
Mortgage Refinance Questions and Answers
Home Builder Lender Reviews
Top 10 Lists for Those Who Like Lists
Top Mortgage Lenders by Loan Type
Top Mortgage Lenders by City and State
Forbearance, Foreclosure, and Short Sale FAQs
Miscellaneous Mortgage Goodies

Below is a list of “mortgage help” topics I feel are beneficial to anyone thinking about buying real estate, getting a mortgage, currently going through the mortgage process, or even those who already have a mortgage.

It’s not something most folks do very often, so even if you’re a seasoned homeowner, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on your knowledge, especially as the industry evolves over time.

I liken the mortgage process to a visit to your local body shop (assuming you know nothing about cars).

Most people don’t know the ins and outs of these complex industries, and often end up getting burned as a result.

But if we all knew just a little bit more about how things worked, the outcome could be a lot different.

My goal is to arm you with as much knowledge as possible prior to the home loan application process, whether it be a new home purchase or a mortgage refinance, so you can make an informed decision and beat the system.

So go ahead and browse the mortgage help topics below as you see fit. Even the tiniest detail could be enough to save you thousands on your mortgage, honestly. So dig in, and dig deep.

Types of Mortgages

There are a lot of choices out there, maybe some you never knew existed. Make sure you know what’s out there before shopping for a home loan to ensure it’s your decision and not someone else’s.

3/1 ARMs
5/1 ARMs
7/1 ARMs
10-Year Mortgages
15-Year Fixed vs. 30-Year Fixed
20-Year Mortgages
40-Year Mortgages
50-Year Mortgages
203k Loans
Adjustable-Rate Mortgages
Alt-A Mortgages
Assumable Mortgages
Bridge Loans
Cash Out vs. HELOC vs. Home Equity Loan
Conforming Home Loans
Conventional Mortgage Loans
Doctor Mortgages
FHA Loans
FHA vs. Conventional Loans
Fixed-Rate Mortgages
Fixed vs. Adjustable-Rate Mortgage
Hard Money Mortgage Loans
Homebuyer Assistance Programs
Home Equity Line of Credits (HELOCs)
Home Equity Loans
Interest-Only Home Loans
Islamic Mortgages
Jumbo Mortgages
Mortgages for Self-Employed Borrowers
Negative Amortization Home Loans
No Documentation Home Loans
Non-Conforming Mortgages
Option Arm Mortgages
Purchase Money Mortgages
Portfolio Home Loans
Reverse Mortgages
Second Mortgages
Stated Income Home Loans
Subprime Mortgage Loans
USDA Home Loans
VA Mortgages
What Are Caps on Adjustable-Rate Mortgages?
What Is a Mortgage?
What Is the Easiest Type of Mortgage to Get?
What Mortgage Term Is Best?
What’s the Best Mortgage for First Time Buyers?
What’s the Most Popular Type of Mortgage?
Zero Down Mortgages

The Home Loan Process

The home loan process can be very complex, and you’ll likely come across words, phrases, and concepts that are foreign to you. Study up ahead of time so you can better navigate, and more importantly, negotiate!

Are Closing Costs Included in a Mortgage?
Are Mortgage Points Worth It?
Assets and Reserve Requirements
Best Time to Buy a Home
Can I Get a Mortgage on a House That Is Paid Off?
Can Mortgage Payments Increase?
Condo vs. Townhouse
Debt-to-Income Ratio
Documents Needed for a Home Loan
Do I Qualify for a Mortgage?
Do Mortgage Inquiries Affect Credit Score?
Do Mortgage Lenders use FICO Scores?
Do Mortgage Payments Go Down Over Time?
Do You Need 20% Down to Buy a House?
Gift of Equity
Home Appraisal
Homeowners Insurance
How Do I Know if Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac Owns My Mortgage?
How Does a Mortgage Broker Get Paid?
How Long Does It Take to Get a Mortgage?
How Many Homes Should I Look at Before I Buy?
How Much House Can I Afford?
How to Get a Mortgage
How to Move Out of Your Parents House
How to Pay Off the Mortgage Early
How to Reduce Closing Costs on Your Mortgage
How to Shop for a Mortgage
Is This Mortgage Company Legit? How to Quickly Vet Your Lender
Lender-Paid Mortgage Insurance
Letter of Explanation
Loan Origination Fee
Loan to Value Ratio
Mortgage Brokers
Mortgage Brokers vs. Banks
Mortgage Co-Borrower vs. Co-Signer
Mortgage Down Payment Requirements
Mortgage Due Dates
Mortgage Gift Letter
Mortgage Impounds
Mortgage Indexes
Mortgage Mistakes
Mortgage Occupancy Types
Mortgage Points
Mortgage Pricing Adjustments
Mortgage vs. Cash: Which Is the Better Option When Buying a Home?
Payment Shock
Prepaid Interest
Prepayment Penalty
Pre-Qualification vs Pre-Approval
Private Mortgage Insurance
Right of Rescission
Risk-Based Pricing
Sell Your House or Rent It Out?
Seller Concessions
The Cost of Property Taxes and Hazard Insurance
There Is No Free Mortgage
Tips for First-Time Homebuyers
Types of Mortgage Lenders
What Do Loan Processors Do?
What Do Mortgage Lenders Look For?
What Do Underwriters Do?
What Does a Mortgage Payment Consist Of?
What Does It Mean to Be House Poor?
What Happens to My Mortgage if My Bank Fails?
What Is a Conditional Loan Approval?
What Is a Good Price for a First-Time Home Buyer?
What Is a Lender Credit?
What Is a Lender Overlay?
What Is a Mortgage Loan Servicer?
What Is a Mortgagee?
What Is a Trigger Lead?
What Is Cash to Close?
What Is Escrow?
What Is Title Insurance?
What Is Verification of Employment for a Mortgage?
When Do Mortgage Payments Start?
When Should You Start Looking for a House?
Why Mortgages Are Declined
Who Are All the People Involved in the Home Loan Process?
Yield Spread Premium

Mortgage Calculators

I’ve got an assortment of mortgage calculators to choose from, including anything from a basic payment calculator to an in-depth rent vs. buy decision maker.

These can be helpful to quickly ballpark a monthly housing payment or determine the savings of paying a little extra each month.

Basic Mortgage Calculator
Early Mortgage Payoff Calculator
Mortgage Affordability Calculator
Refinance Calculator
Rent vs. Buy Calculator
Excel-Based Mortgage Calculators

Mortgage Rates

This section is always top of mind for both aspiring and existing homeowners since it dictates how much you’ll pay each month. You may want to spend extra time in this category to really understand how mortgage rates work.

Even if you don’t master this section, simply gathering more than one mortgage rate quote could separate you from the crowd. Studies prove that you can save money by speaking to multiple lenders. Amazingly, most consumers still only take the time to speak to one.

2024 Mortgage Rate Predictions
Always Lock Your Mortgage Rate
Are Mortgage Rates Higher for Condos?
Are Mortgage Rates Negotiable
Buying Down Your Interest Rate
Do Mortgage Brokers Offer Better Rates Than the Competition?
Do Mortgage Rates Change Daily?
Does the Fed Control Mortgage Rates?
How Many Mortgage Quotes Should I Get?
How Mortgage Interest Works
How Mortgage Rates Are Determined
How to Get a Wholesale Mortgage Rate
How to Get the Best Mortgage Rate
How to Track Mortgage Rates
Locking vs. Floating Your Mortgage Rate
Mortgage Par Rate
Mortgage Rate Buydowns
Mortgage Rate Charts
Mortgage Rate vs. APR
Mortgage Rates vs. Home Prices: Is There Really an Inverse Relationship?
Mortgage Rates vs. Recessions: Do They Go Up or Down During Hard Times?
Mortgage Teaser Rates
Temporary vs. Permanent Mortgage Rate Buydowns
What Is Marry the House, Date the Rate?
What Is the Mortgage Rate Lock-In Effect?
What Mortgage Has the Best Interest Rate?
What Mortgage Rate Can I Expect?
What Mortgage Rate Can I Get With My Credit Score?
When Are Mortgage Rates Lowest?
Why Are Lower Job Openings Good for Mortgage Rates?
Why Are Mortgage Rates Different?
Why Is the APR Lower than the Mortgage Rate?
Would You Rather Have a Low Mortgage Rate or Pay a Lower Price for a Home?

Mortgage Refinance

If you’re already a homeowner, you might be curious about refinancing options, whether it’s to save money on monthly payments or tap into your equity.

The Refinance Process Step-by-Step
Can I Refinance With Bad Credit?
Can I Refinance With Negative Equity?
Cash-in Refinance
Cash-Out Refinance
Does a Refinance Require an Appraisal?
Does Refinancing Hurt Your Credit Score?
FHA-to-Conventional Refinance
How Does Refinancing Work?
How Soon Can I Refinance My Mortgage?
How to Lower Your Mortgage Rate Without Refinancing
Is It Worth Using a Mortgage Lender Now for the Promise of Waived Fees in the Future?
No Cost Refinance Loans
Rate and Term Refinance
Refinance Rule of Thumb
Resetting the Clock When You Refinance
Streamline Refinance
What Is a Short Refinance?
When to Refinance a Mortgage?
Why Are Refinance Rates Higher?
Why Do Mortgage Companies Want You to Refinance So Badly?
Why You May Want to Switch Mortgage Companies

Home Builder Lender Reviews

Many home builders also operate their own affiliated lending divisions. This allows them to streamline the transaction, as home loan financing can be easier when done in-house.

Home builders also tend to offer special financing if you use their own lender, though it may pay to shop around as well.

The following is a list of home builder lenders that I have reviewed, including whether you should use one versus a third-party lender.

Should I Buy a New Home or an Old Home?
Should I Use the Home Builder’s Mortgage Lender?
DHI Mortgage Review
HomeAmerican Mortgage Review
Inspire Home Loans Review
K. Hovnanian American Mortgage Review
KBHS Home Loans Review
Lennar Mortgage Review
NVR Mortgage Review
Pulte Mortgage Review
Taylor Morrison Home Funding Review
Toll Brothers Mortgage Review

Top 10 Lists

Everyone likes a good list, and I’ve written quite a few since this site was first launched back in 2006.

If you prefer to learn about mortgages and real estate this way as opposed to reading lengthy articles, that’s just fine. It might even be more efficient.

10 Big Mortgage Myths Proved Wrong, Once and For All
10 Reasons to Buy a House Other Than for the Investment
10 Reasons Why You Can’t Refinance Your Mortgage
10 Things You Should Do Before Applying for a Mortgage
10 Ways to Build Home Equity
10 Ways to Get a Bigger Mortgage
10 Ways to Save Money on Your Next Mortgage
11 Ways to Pay for Home Renovations
12 Home Selling Tips to Get More For Your Listing
15 Things to Do After Your Mortgage Funds
18 Refinance Questions You Want Answered
18 Reasons to Refinance Your Mortgage
25 Common Mortgage Questions
21 Things That Can Increase Your Mortgage Rate
100+ Not So Great Places to Buy a Home
Mortgage Lingo: 26 Terms You Should Know Before You Apply

Top Mortgage Lenders by Loan Type

Each year, I compile a list of the top 10 lenders by loan type. This includes all major categories, including FHA, VA, USDA, refinances, reverse mortgages, and even second mortgages like HELOCs.

Remember, biggest doesn’t necessarily mean best. It just tells us who is doing the most of what.

Top 10 FHA Lenders
Top 10 USDA Lenders
Top 10 VA Lenders
Top HELOC Lenders
Top Mortgage Lenders Nationwide
Top Refinance Companies
Top Reverse Mortgage Lenders

Top Mortgage Lenders by State

I also compile top-10 lists for the largest mortgage lenders nationwide and broken down by state. So if you’re curious who the biggest mortgage lender is in Texas, or Tennessee for that matter, look no further.

You’ll also find top-10 lender lists for large cities within each state if you really want to fine-tune your search, such as Miami or Los Angeles.

Top Mortgage Lenders in Alabama
Top Mortgage Lenders in Arizona
Top Mortgage Lenders in California
Top Mortgage Lenders in Colorado
Top Mortgage Lenders in Connecticut
Top Mortgage Lenders in DC
Top Mortgage Lenders in Florida
Top Mortgage Lenders in Georgia
Top Mortgage Lenders in Hawaii
Top Mortgage Lenders in Idaho
Top Illinois Mortgage Lenders
Top Mortgage Lenders in Indiana
Top Mortgage Lenders in Kentucky
Top Mortgage Lenders in Louisiana
Top Mortgage Lenders in Maryland
Top Mortgage Lenders in Massachusetts
Top Mortgage Lenders in Michigan
Top Mortgage Lenders in Minnesota
Top Mortgage Lenders in Missouri
Top Mortgage Lenders in Nevada
Top Mortgage Lenders in New Jersey
Top Mortgage Lenders in New York
Top Mortgage Lenders in North Carolina
Top Mortgage Lenders in Ohio
Top Mortgage Lenders in Oklahoma
Top Mortgage Lenders in Oregon
Top Mortgage Lenders in Pennsylvania
Top Mortgage Lenders in South Carolina
Top Mortgage Lenders in Tennessee
Top Mortgage Lenders in Texas
Top Mortgage Lenders in Utah
Top Mortgage Lenders in Virginia
Top Mortgage Lenders in Washington State
Top Mortgage Lenders in Wisconsin

Forbearance, Foreclosure, and Short Sale FAQs

Whether you’re an existing homeowner struggling with payments, or a hopeful one looking for a deal, you might find something useful here. Didn’t mean to make that rhyme, but I’ll take it.

Credit Score Impact of Foreclosures and Short Sales
Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure
Fannie Mae HomePath
Foreclosure Help
Freddie Mac HomeSteps
How Is Mortgage Forbearance Paid Back?
How Long After Foreclosure Can I Purchase a Home?
How Long After Short Sale Can I Purchase a Home?
How Long Does a Foreclosure Stay on Your Credit Report?
HUD Homes
What Is a Short Sale?
What Is an Underwater Mortgage?

Miscellaneous Mortgage Goodies

This final section includes lots of interesting topics that don’t fit in just one category. You might find something of interest here that can save you money on interest!

1031 Exchange
Are Mortgage Calculators Accurate?
Are Mortgage Points Tax Deductible?
Are Mortgages Simple Interest and Compounded Monthly?
Biweekly Mortgage Payments
Buying a Duplex, Triplex, or Fourplex
Can You Pay the Mortgage with Bitcoin?
Do Mortgage Modifications Work?
Discount Rate, Prime Rate, and the Federal Funds Rate
How Long Do You Plan to Keep Your Mortgage?
How Mortgages Are Calculated
How Much Do Mortgage Brokers Make?
How to Pay the Mortgage with a Credit Card
How to Remove Mortgage Lates
If I Have a Mortgage, Do I Actually Own My House?
Is It Actually a Good Thing That a Home Is an Illiquid Asset?
Is Mortgage a Good Debt or a Bad Debt?
Is There Any Correlation Between Elections and Mortgage Rates?
Loan Modification Programs
Loan Officer Jobs
Mortgage Amortization
Mortgage Credit Certificate
Mortgage Dictionary
Mortgage Protection Insurance
Mortgage Rates vs. Presidential Inaugurations: Is There a Correlation?
Mortgage Stocks
Mortgages on Investment Properties
Pay Off the Mortgage or Invest?
PMI vs. Combo Loans
Predatory Mortgage Lending
Principal vs. Principle
Renting vs. Buying a Home
Rounding Up Your Mortgage Payment
Seller Carryback Financing
Should I Use an iBuyer to Sell My Home?
Should You Pay Off Your Mortgage Before Retirement?
What Caused the Mortgage Crisis?
What Flavor Is Your Mortgage?
What Is a Mortgage Recast?
What Is Home Equity?
What Is My Home Worth?
Which Mortgage Should I Pay Off First?
Why Are Mortgage Payments Mostly Interest?
Why Are Mortgages Cheaper Than Rent?

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