This program is designed to allow sorority member, family, friends and the communities we serve to be trained on three phases of Home Ownership. Information is available on any one or all three phases



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Helpful tips to protect yourself


  1. Educate yourself. If you are a first-time buyer, attend a homeownership education course. HUD and a number of non-profit counseling agencies offer them – some are even self-paced online courses.

  2. Check references. Be sure to know who you are working with. Before selecting a real estate professional or lender, get references and do your homework. Be wary if anyone is trying to dissuade you from comparing lenders and costs.

  3. Know your market. Know the value of the neighborhood and check what comparable houses are selling for – protect yourself from paying too much for your home.

  4. Get a home inspection. Again, get references and be wary if someone is steering you in the direction of just one home inspector. Hidden problems with the house can cost you thousands – it is worth it to spend a little and save a lot.

  5. Be truthful. Don't let anyone talk you into making false or incorrect statements on your application paperwork. They may tell you it isn't a big deal but it is – it's fraud and can result in legal action. In addition, lying may enable you to buy a house you can't afford and you may struggle to keep up with the payments and risk foreclosure.

  6. If you don't understand, don't sign. Don't be afraid to ask questions or take the unsigned document to someone you trust to help you understand it better. Never sign

  7. Blank documents – you will be bound by whatever you sign. Don't let someone tell you, "we'll fill that in later." Instead cross through blanks or write N/A in the spaces.

  8. Understand the costs of the loan and what is covered. Your loan can include the actual amount you're borrowing, Private Mortgage Insurance, and closing costs. Make sure your loan is not "packed" with premium credit insurance add-ons that you don't understand or want (like credit life insurance).

  9. Don't think you're getting a fair loan? Talk to a consumer credit counseling agency or non-profit housing counselor if you're not clear and need help finding a fair loan. Feel free to ask if the companies offering you loans have had any complaints filed against them.

Protect Yourself From Predatory Lending


The best way to protect yourself from predatory lending is to be informed. If you ask questions, read all documents, and know your rights, you'll be better armed to identify and walk away from a bad lender. When you're informed, you can protect yourself and make sure you get the best mortgage for your needs.

You have a legal right to have - in writing - the total cost of the loan, the annual percentage rate, the monthly payments, and how long you have to pay back the loan. Always ask questions until you understand everything.



  • Shop around for the loan that best meets your needs.

  • Know what your credit score, income, and loan amount is and ask several lenders for the best rate they can offer. Comparison shop using the same loan rate and term so you're comparing apples to apples among lenders.

  • Understand the total cost of the loan, including the monthly payments, the interest, and any other costs like property insurance.

  • Make sure you know what the loan is covering in terms of fees and costs. Your loan can include the actual amount you're borrowing, Private Mortgage Insurance, and closing costs. Make sure your loan is not "packed" with premium credit insurance add-ons that you don't understand or want (like credit life insurance).

  • Say no to easy money. If the lender says your credit problems won't affect your interest rate, be cautious. They may not be telling you the truth.

  • Don't let the lender pressure you into making false statements or leaving blank spaces on your application to be filled in later. Make sure all documents are complete, truthful, and have the right dates. False statements become your responsibility and you could be breaking the law.

  • If you're not sure about the loan or don't completely understand the details, don't sign the contract. Before you sign the loan papers, ask a credit or housing counselor, lawyer, or trusted friend to go over them with you. Once you sign, you are legally bound to the terms of the contract.

  • Protect your home equity. If you're taking equity out of your property, only take out the minimum amount that you need. See a financial advisor or credit counselor before you tap into the equity of your home.



Resources


Avoid credit traps by learning to look out for:

  1. Predatory Lending Check-Cashing Traps

  2. Business Scams Telephone/Internet Scams

Identity Theft

How Do You Get Credit Reports?


Your credit information is compiled by three private companies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These companies sell your credit report to banks and other creditors so they can review your credit history.

It's important that you look at your credit report from each of the three companies to make sure everything is correct - especially because your credit report may vary from one company to another. By law:



  • You can get a free copy of your credit report from each credit reporting company every 12 months.

  • You can get a free copy of your credit report every time you find a mistake and want to make sure it's been fixed.

  • You can get a free copy of your credit report if you’ve been denied credit and in certain other situations, such as fraud.

To obtain your annual free credit report, go to www.annualcreditreport.com or call (877) 322-8228. You may also request your report by mail:

Annual Credit Report Request Service P.O. Box 105283 Atlanta, GA 30348-5283

Be sure to have the following information handy when ordering your report:



  1. • Your full name (including Jr., Sr., III, etc.)

  2. • Date of birth

  3. Social Security Number

  4. • Current and previous addresses for the past 5 years

  5. • And, if you are married, your spouse's name

For more information about your rights regarding credit and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, visit the Federal Trade Commission Web site.



For additional information

  • myFICO http://www.myfico.com/CreditEducation/CreditReports.aspx

  • Consumer Federation of America http://www.ftc.gov/



Resources


Contact the three credit reporting agencies for more information about getting your free credit report.

  1. • Experian www.experian.com (888) 397 - 3742

  2. • Equifax www.equifax.com (800) 685 – 1111

  3. • TransUnion www.transunion.com (800) 888 - 4213
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