As concerns about subprime mortgages plague the nation's leaders and lenders, America's homeowners are confused and worried about their own mortgages, according to a poll commissioned by Bankrate.com.
In the survey of 1,004 adults conducted by Gfk Roper, homeowners with mortgages were asked what type of mortgage they had. A stunning 34 percent of the homeowners had no idea.
What type of mortgage do you currently have?
Source: Bankrate.com 2007
"That's a symptom of the complexity of the mortgage market today," says Ken Wade, chief executive officer of NeighborWorks America, a nonprofit organization that provides financing and training to neighborhood-based housing organizations.
A generation ago, mortgages were made primarily through banks. Today there are many more types of organizations making mortgage loans, some of which are less regulated than banks. Adding to the confusion is the variety of loans now available to borrowers. "There is a proliferation of new products that come on line just about every week, and I think it creates confusion among consumers," says Wade.
Younger borrowers, and those with less experience as investors, can find the array of loan choices particularly confusing. Anthony LaGiglia, managing director of J.J. Burns & Co., a financial advisory firm in Melville, N.Y., says such borrowers have fewer benchmarks against which they can judge loan products. "They don't know what the market can be paying them in interest, and they don't know how much they should be paying on loans, either. That's a situation ripe for abuse by unscrupulous mortgage people."