Mortgages

Learn some of the basics about mortgages.

Mortgage Refinancing

Refinancing your mortgage allows you to pay off your existing mortgage and take out a new mortgage on new terms. You may want to refinance your mortgage to take advantage of lower interest rates, to change your type of mortgage, or for other reasons.

These resources will help you learn more about refinancing your mortgage:

 

Making Home Affordable Program

  • The Making Home Affordable Program offered opportunities to modify or refinance your mortgages, but as of December 30, 2016, no new requests for assistance under any MHA program will be accepted.
  • However, this program still offers free counseling and help for homeowners who are having difficulty communicating with mortgage companies or lenders about their needs for mortgage relief. Learn more about counseling or call 888-995-HOPE (4673).
  • The Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAFA) is an alternative solution for homeowners who are interested in a short sale or deed-in-lieu to avoid foreclosure.

 

Is there anything else I need to know?

  • Federal Reserve rules require mortgage companies to notify homeowners when their loans are transferred to another company. The company that takes over your loan must send you a notice within 30 days of acquiring it. Even with a new loan owner, the company that "services" or handles your loan might not change and you might continue to send your payments to the same address. If that loan servicer changes, you will receive a separate notice.

  • For more information about servicing companies, read the Federal Trade Commission's publication "Mortgage Servicing: Making Sure Your Payments Count."

Back to Top

Predatory Loans

Most mortgage professionals are trustworthy and provide a valuable service, helping you to buy or refinance your home. But dishonest or "predatory" lenders do exist and engage in practices that increase the chances of borrowers losing their homes to foreclosure.

Report Predatory Loans

Learn how to file a complaint about mortgages and lenders, and who to send your complaint to.  

How to Protect Yourself

Learn about the types of scams that predatory lenders use to trick you. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has counselors available across the country to help you navigate mortgage professionals, look out for scams, and choose the right loan type for you.

Predatory lenders may try to:

  • Sell properties for much more than they are worth using false appraisals
  • Encourage borrowers to lie about their income, expenses, or cash available for down payments in order to get a loan
  • Knowingly lend more money than a borrower can afford to repay
  • Charge high interest rates to borrowers based on their race or national origin and not on their credit history
  • Charge fees for unnecessary or nonexistent products and services

 

Do

  • Before you buy a home, attend a homeownership education course offered by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-approved, non-profit counseling agency.
  • Interview several real estate agents, and ask for and check references before you select one to help you buy or sell a home.
  • Get information about the current values and recent sale prices of other homes in the neighborhood.
  • Hire a qualified and licensed home inspector to carefully inspect the property before you are obligated to buy.
  • Determine whether you or the seller will be responsible for paying for the repairs.
  • Shop for a lender and compare costs.
  • Be suspicious if anyone tries to steer you to just one lender.Learn more about how to spot predatory lending and how to protect yourself.
  • Become an educated consumer and learn about loans, mortgage fraud, and consumer protection.

Don’t

  • Don’t lie about your income, age, or anything else on a home loan application.
  • Don’t give anyone your personal financial or identification information, including your Social Security number, through email or messaging.
  • Don’t use a lender, real estate professional, or contractor who cannot provide you with a license number and recommendations.
  • Don’t fall for loans or offers that seem too good to be true.
  • Don’t take out a loan offered to you by telemarketers, flyers, or door-to-door sales.
  • Don’t feel obligated or pressured to sign up for a loan or service “today.”

Back to Top

Reverse Mortgages

A reverse mortgage is a home loan that you do not have to pay back for as long as you live in your home. You only repay the loan when you die, sell your home, or permanently move away. Homeowners who are at least 62 years old are eligible. These mortgages allow older homeowners to convert part of the equity in their homes into cash without having to sell their homes or take on additional monthly bills.

Read more information about reverse mortgages.

Types of reverse mortgages include:

Be sure to watch for aggressive lending practices, advertisements that refer to the loan as "free money," or those that fail to disclose fees or terms of the loan. To be a savvy consumer and help protect yourself, remember:

  • Do not respond to unsolicited advertisements
  • Be suspicious of anyone claiming that you can own a home with no down payment
  • Seek out your own reverse mortgage counselor
  • Never sign anything you do not fully understand
  • Make sure the loan is federally insured

Reporting Fraud or Abuse

If you suspect fraud or abuse, let the counselor, lender, or loan servicer know. You may also file a complaint:

If you have questions, contact your local Homeownership Center for advice. 

Back to Top

Last Updated: September 19, 2017

Do you need help?

Ask us any question about the U.S. government for free. We'll get you the answer or tell you where to find it.

What you think matters!