Real Estate Agent / Broker:

When you first start looking for a home, contact a real estate company in your area. (The classified section of your local newspaper will list real estate companies in the housing section). A real estate professional can show you available houses in your price range that meet your personal needs. Find out whether the broker is representing you or the seller, or both. This is important to know when you are negotiating a purchase price. If you decide to make an offer on a home, the broker will present your offer to the seller.

Lender:

Banks, savings and loans, and mortgage companies lend money to home buyers. Your lender will ask you to fill out a loan application form that includes information about your income, employment and debts. The lender will double-check this information.

Property / Mechanical Inspector:

For a fee, a qualified inspector will examine the home you’ve chosen from basement to attic. The inspection includes an evaluation of the home’s plumbing, electrical work, appliances, the furnace and/or air conditioners, roof and structural stability. Some lenders require a home inspection, and it’s a good idea to get one. Getting an inspection before buying your home could save you thousands of dollars in future expenses. Knowledge of the house’s flaws also may help you negotiate a better price on the house.

Appraiser:

The appraiser determines the market value of the house you’ve chosen, based on its condition and the selling prices of comparable homes recently sold in the area. This estimate helps the lender decide a reasonable loan amount for the mortgage. You should not expect an appraiser to uncover a home’s defects — that’s the inspector’s job.

Attorney / Closing Agent:

The attorney or closing agent is responsible for ensuring that all documents have been completed properly, including those related to the title search and title insurance. The closing agent will explain all closing documents to you and the seller, obtain your signatures and record the documents with the appropriate local governments. He or she also will collect the transaction fees and give them to the appropriate parties.

Mortgage Insurer:

Mortgage insurance makes it possible for lenders to offer mortgage loan options with only a small down payment. If for some reason you can no longer make your payments, mortgage insurance helps cover the lender’s losses.

Loan Servicer:

After the loan closes, the loan servicer collects your payments and manages late payments. Lenders often “release” servicing to another organization, which means that you won’t necessarily send your mortgage payments to the company that made your loan. Your lender will notify you of the correct address for sending your payments.

Mortgage Investor:

You are not likely to meet the Mortgage Investor, but it’s good to know what they do. About three out of four mortgage loans are sold to mortgage investors. The Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) are two major investors in loans for affordable housing.

Selling loans gives the lender more money for future lending activities. If your loan is sold to an investor, it will not affect any of the terms of your mortgage. Your loan amount, interest rate and payment amount will remain the same.

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