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The Top 5 Things You Must Know Before Applying for a Mortgage
By: Rob Sallay

You’ve been thinking about buying your own home for quite a long time, and now you’re ready to take the plunge. You’ve been saving money for a down payment, and you know the next step is preparing to apply for a mortgage.

But where do you start?

Here are the top 5 things you need to know before approaching a mortgage lender.

1. Understand Your Options
All mortgages are not created equal. There are several different types, which vary based on interest rates and payment terms.

For example:

• With a fixed-rate mortgage, your monthly payments remain the same during the entire length of the mortgage. There will be no variations in monthly payments, regardless of changes in interest rates and inflation.

• With an adjustable-rate mortgage, you will often receive a lower initial interest rate, but your monthly payment amount can rise and fall as interest rates fluctuate (within certain caps or limits).

• With a balloon or reset mortgage, you once again may be offered a low interest rate, but it will hold for a limited time. After that, the balance of the mortgage will be due, or you will need to refinance.

2. Become a Rate Watcher
The state of the economy influences interest rates, which ebb and flow on a regular basis.

Your daily newspaper tracks these rates, so stay current by watching whether rates are rising, falling or remaining stable.

It behooves you to become as educated as possible about how these rates will affect your mortgage—and to see if you want to postpone applying for one until rates drop.

3. Get Pre-Approved
Consider getting pre-approved for a mortgage, says Frank Nothaft, PhD, vice president and chief economist for Freddie Mac, the stockholder-owned corporation established by the United States Congress in 1970 to create a continuous flow of funds to mortgage lenders in support of homeownership and rental housing.

”A benefit of being pre-approved for a mortgage loan is that it gives the prospective homebuyer additional bargaining leverage when competing with other prospective buyers for a home,” he says. “A home seller may be more likely to accept an offer from a pre-approved borrower—because the seller knows the buyer can get a loan—than from another bidder, who may be exactly the same in financial qualifications and offer, except that he lacks the pre-approval.”

4. Consider Making a Higher Down Payment
Making a higher down payment on a home will reduce your mortgage, but there are definite pros and cons, according to Dr. Nothaft.

”The pro of putting down more money is that you can often obtain lower-cost financing,” he says. “High down-payment loans—that is, low loan-to-value ratio—represent less default risk to a lender, and are safer. That may translate into a lower interest rate or obviate the need for mortgage loan insurance.

“The con,” he continues, “is that it may result in the borrower having to delay a home purchase, because the borrower does not have enough liquid assets to make a larger down payment. Low down-payment loans are especially important for first-time home buyers, who typically do not have the financial wherewithal to make a large down payment.”

5. Select Your Lender Carefully
As in any industry, there are “bad apples” who ruin the reputations of respectable professionals. In the mortgage business, these folks are known as “predatory lenders”—individuals who take advantage of vulnerable consumers. Those most prone to becoming victims include the ill-informed, the elderly, women, minorities, low-income buyers and consumers with bad credit.

To avoid becoming “prey,” select a lender with solid credentials. You can secure a referral from your bank or credit union, real estate agent, government housing agency, or friends and relatives who have successfully purchased homes.

Never trust a mortgage offer that arrives via email, as it likely originated from a spammer.

Mortgage Relief specializes in assisting Australian families with mortgages by making their monthly repayments more manageable and decreasing their overall debt and total interest paid over the life of their mortgage. Mortgage Relief is a mortgage refinance provider that it part of Australia’s largest Debt Relief™ organization. Visit Mortgage Relief on the web at or contact them directly on 1300 789 014.

About the Author

Rob Sallay

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The Power of Stretching    - Dave Snape


Your muscles ache from a good stretch. This is quite
normal and is part of the process. Stretching has
seemingly been with us and particularly with athletes
since the beginning of time.

A very key point to good stretching is to hold the
stretch for at least seventeen seconds. This is a
pearl of wisdom gleaned from a ballet teacher a few
years back. She said that any stretch under 17
seconds was just not effective.

The 17 second rule is exceeded in the high intensity
Bikram's yoga where stretches are held for about 30
seconds. Don't forget the high level of heat that is
used in Bikram's to extract that last little bit of
stretch out of your muscles. An interesting twist that
is not necessary to gain benefits from stretching. But,
it can't hurt, right?

So what kind of benefits can you expect from
stretching? That's an easy one. Have you ever seen the
movie, Blood Sport? Did you know that Frank Dux could
truly stretch his body to the extreme. The actor that
played him was quite elastic as well.

Great elasticity is also something you might see in
well trained Spetsnaz (Russian) agents. They often work
out with Russian kettlebells too. They are for superior
strength gains and the ability to withstand ballistic

Why are stretching and flexibility considered important
to these people? Stretching gives one the ability to
have explosive power available at one's fingertips
without the need to warm up. Of course most of us are
not martial artists or agents. But, you'll be happy to
know there are plenty of other benefits.

Let me give you an example. After learning to sit in
the full lotus position for long periods of time, my
ankles became very flexible. One day I was walking
along and my left foot fell into a pothole. This mishap
pushed my ankle sideways to about 90 degrees from it's
normal position.

Amazingly, this didn't even hurt, not one bit. If my
ankle hadn't been so flexible, I may have suffered a
sprained ankle. At the very least, it would have hurt
for days.

Key point: stretching helps you to avoid injuries.
Not only that but if you do have a muscle, tendon or
ligament injury it should heal faster, theoretically

Stretching actually grows the ligaments, tendons and
muscles being stretched. They really grow longer over

Check with your physician before undertaking any type
of exercise, including stretching.

Here is some good instructional material on stretching:

Dave Snape

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