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Mortgage Loan Tip

BEWARE: If a lender says, "Don't Count on Your Rate Lock" when Rates Are Rising, Run!!!

Here's why... sometimes lenders will actually hold up your application if it means you'll have to pay a higher rate. In 1993, the Federal Trade Commission charged Lomas Mortgage USA, one of the nation's largest lenders, with falsely promising borrowers that it would unconditionally lock in the mortgage rate and discount points for 60 days. In fact, in many instances Lomas levied higher rates and more points within the 60-day period, the Commission charged. The Dallas lender settled with the FTC in July, 1993, and agreed to pay $300,000 in so-called "consumer redress."

"It's the lender who has control over how quickly the paperwork gets done," notes Michelle Meier, a lawyer with the Washington activist group Consumers Union. "And there are always all kinds of reasons why that locked-in rate is unavailable by the time they get to closing."

As interest rates rise, so do rate-lock complaints. Patricia Cunningham, Consumer Affairs Manager at the Illinois Office of Banks and Real Estate, says that in 1994, when interest rates were high, more than 600 rate-lock complaints came in. In 1995, when interest rates fell, so did the number of complaints -- by half. In 1996, with interest rates back up again, the number of complaints also rebounded.

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