Online shopping for mortgages

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The expansion of mortgage lenders onto the Internet is a home buyer’s dream. No more visits to banks or mortgage brokers, no more long-winded phone calls — you can save hours by shopping for a mortgage online first before selecting your lender.

Even before you consider individual mortgage lenders, you can easily use online mortgage calculators to determine
how much house you can afford, what your
monthly payments will be, and interest rates nationwide at Bankrate’s daily update of
mortgage rates.

You’ll find a wealth of information on mortgage programs available online. Many mortgage brokers, banks and credit unions have detailed information and even loan applications on their Web sites.

Where to start
Should you apply for a loan online? Not immediately. Use lender Web sites in the same way you might use a magazine advertisement or billboard, as a place to start your relationship. If a lender or broker insists you fill out an application or charges you a fee to provide further information, move on; legitimate lenders want your loan business, not your lunch money.

Once you’ve identified a lender you like, e-mail them to request more information or ask the mortgage specialist to call you. Then, if you want to move ahead, download the mortgage application, print it, fill it out and send it by mail or deliver it in person. That way you won’t have to worry about your financial information ending up in the wrong hands due to lax Internet or e-mail security.

The Internet is a great place to mortgage shop, but don’t make the final commitment online. You will want to talk with the lender or broker, get all of your questions answered and establish a relationship of confidence and trust before placing your finances in their hands.

Here are a few Web sites to get you started: