Choosing the right home equity loan can be tricky; you have to consider interest rates and repayment schedules, among others. Choosing the right lender, however, does not have to be a difficult task. If you ask the right questions, you can pick the best lender for your needs. The following is a list of seven essential questions that you should ask any potential lender.
1. What are the terms? This will include interest rates and the length of the loan. Some lenders may require you to carry private mortgage insurance or to pay your mortgage through ACH deposit. Get the terms in writing, so that you can compare them with other lenders.
2. How about my credit? Your credit score may play a huge factor in deciding which lender to go through. If you have bad or no credit, many lenders may not be able to help you. So you will want to find a lender that offers sub-prime loans for borrowers of your credit status. Bad credit does not necessarily disqualify you for a loan, but it will make the process a bit more difficult.
3. What is their reputation? The lender will delve into your personal and financial history, so why shouldn’t you do the same? If the company is public, you should have no trouble finding financial and news information. Look for recent mergers or restructurings that could indicate a potential problem. Be weary of lenders that are not publicly traded. Many lenders use the same underwriters, so do your homework beforehand.
4. How much will the loan cost me? Closing costs can be a major concern for most homeowners. You probably need the home equity loan because you are short on funds or in debt, so coming up with a few thousand dollars for closing costs can be all but impossible for many borrowers. Your lender should be able to provide you with a good faith estimate (GFE) that will outline the fees that you will be responsible for.
5. How long is the process? A typical home equity loan, should not take more than a month on average. Ask your lender how long the process will take from the initial application to receipt of the funds. This can be particularly critical if you are needed to do repairs on your home, such as purchasing a new water heater.
6. Is the staff knowledgeable? Never underestimate the power of a good customer service representative. Ask the loan officer and others in the office the various questions that you have. They should be knowledgeable on the loan process, and be able to guide you through the process.
7. Early payment penalty? If you won the lottery or got a big raise, would you be able to pay your loan off early? Many people forget to ask this question when choosing a lender, but it can save you thousands of dollars. So, make sure that if you choose to sell your home before it is paid off, you will be covered.
Use your common sense when choosing a home equity loan bank. Research the company just as you would with any major purchase. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and to try another lender if you don’t get the answers that you desire. It is your home and your money on the line, so do your homework!