Predatory Lending Explained

Predatory Lending Explained
  • Learn six ways to avoid predatory lending.

Learn More About Predatory Lending And How To Avoid It.

Predatory lending is a bad as it sounds. Predatory lenders take advantage of homebuyers with low credit scores, high debt, poor credit histories, or little financial experience. Although the lenders make a lot of promises, the homebuyer usually ends up much worse off.

Typical predatory lending practices include:

  • Charging higher rates due to race or nationality
  • Charging junk fees
  • Charging significantly higher costs at closing than previously estimated
  • Using dishonest appraisers who overstate the value comparable to area homes
  • Making a loan for more than the home is worth
  • Encouraging you to lie on the application
  • Demanding that you accept their offer immediately
  • Offering federal loan guarantees
  • Encouraging you to repeatedly refinance into loans with high closing costs and no benefit to you.

How to Avoid Predatory Lending Practices

When shopping for a loan, ask for referrals from people with good interest rates who are happy with their lenders. Avoid the hard-sell, wild promise radio ads or telephone calls. You should also take the following precautions to protect yourself from predatory lending:

Get several loan offers

Never accept the first loan offer. Shop around for two to three mortgage offers. Compare the costs, interest rates, and fees.

Ask for a list of fees in writing

Lenders should be willing to explain their costs to you and give you a good faith estimate of the costs before you apply. At least one day before closing, request a HUD-1 statement of your fees. If it's significantly more than the estimate, ask your lender to remove them. Don't agree to extra "products" that they try to sell you at the last minute.

Don't make false statements on your application

You should accurately report your income and debt on your loan application. If your lender encourages you to lie, find another lender. Lying on a loan application is fraud.

Don't sign a blank document

Never sign a blank form provided by your lender. If a form has any uncompleted blanks, put lines in them or write "N/A" in them. If you don't and the lender later inserts information, you could be held liable for it.

Don't accept a 100% loan.

Never finance the entire cost of the house. A down payment of as little as 5% provides you with an equity cushion in case of a downturn and improves your position in the eyes of lenders.

Hire independent appraisers

If your lender's appraiser values the home at far more than you expected, hire an independent appraiser directly. Predatory lenders often push appraisers to value homes for more than they are worth so they can give you a larger loan. Unless home prices rise quickly and significantly, you won't be able to sell or refinance before your interest rate jumps.

Most lenders are honest and want you to be in a home you can afford. Predatory lenders profit off your inability to pay. If you suspect your lender is engaging in predatory mortgage lending practices, find another lender. It may be a hassle, but it is worth it.