10 Biggest Home Loan Mistakes to Avoid

Buying a Home and obtaining the right type of Home Loan from the Bank is always a challenging task. Why you may ask? I think everyone will agree with me if I were to say owning a Home is our single largest commitment in our lifetime. If you do not get proper financing done, it can cost you thousands or even tens of thousands in interest payment alone to the Bank.

For Investors, structuring the mortgage financing correctly will be even more critical as it can mean the difference between a profit or a loss. This can be the difference between creating a wealth generating property portfolio or never progressing beyond the first property investment.

Throughout my entire 14 years’ journey in mortgage financing, I have seen many property buyers who made wrong mortgage decisions which cost them huge sums of money. So how do you make sure that you will end up with the right type of property finance that will save you thousands in interest?

Here are the 10 biggest Home Loan Mistakes made by loan borrowers which I have gathered throughout my career in Mortgage Financing.

1. Understanding the Malaysian Mortgage Industry

For the past one year or so, we have seen many announcements being made by Bank Negara with regards to the changes in the mortgage financing climate. Many home buyers are still unaware and were caught off guard on the recent changes. Take for instance, recently when I sold one of my properties the buyer only knew that there is a 70% financing cap on third property after he paid the deposit and went to the bank to enquire about financing.

With the new announcement on 100% financing with properties costing between RM100,000 to RM400,000 do take extra precaution on the loan approval by the banks. It’s rather rigid with many requirements that needed to be met. My advised for those who are going for this type of loan is to go to the bank and check the loan approval requirements before committing on the purchase.

For home buyers or investors who are buying new properties, do take the extra trouble to check on the latest changes before committing on your purchase.

2. Going for the lowest Interest Rates

One of the hottest topics when it comes to buying a property will be “which bank is offering the lowest rate in town”. My philosophy, “The Lowest Interest Rate does not necessary save you the most Interest”. Why is that so?

What might be seen as a good deal can sometimes come with strings attached whereby it costs more in certain situations or the loan offers less flexibility. Always remember to read (no need to have the word “between” because you do not need to read between the lines) the fine prints in your loan Letter of Offer before signing on the dotted lines.

Be very clear about your objectives for getting the loan and do your homework before you go to the Bank for your financing needs. With the objectives set, go and search for a home loan that suits your specific needs and objectives, and enables you to save the most interest.

3. Understanding The Bank’s Loan Packages

There are hundreds of different innovative types of loan packages out in the market. Borrowers are often spoilt for choice because there are too many to choose from. Many borrowers do not do research on the loan packages and at the end of the day take packages that are not suitable for their specific needs and goals, costing them to lose large amounts of money in interest payments to the banks.

4. Pre-Qualifying Your Loan Approval

This is the most common mistake that many home buyers make. Many home buyers thought that they have no problem in getting their loans approved and often time ignorance can lead to losing tens of thousands paid as deposits. I have seen this happen many times.

The right approach is to go to the Bank before buying a property and check your credit standing. The loan officer can help to pre-qualify your loan. At least, when you pay the house deposit, you pay with confidence.

5. How Banks Determine Credit Approval?

Sometimes it will work towards your advantage if you know how the Banks approve a loan. Banks use, Debt to Income Ratio (DTI) to determine whether you qualify for the loan. For example, if your income is RM3,000 and your total debt is RM1,500 your DTI works like this:-

RM1,500/RM3,000 X 100% = 50% DTI

(Debt) / (Income)

Different Banks use different ratio to determine their credit approval. Normally, banks approve loans with DTI ratio of between 33% to 70%. The recent announcement by Bank Negara on using Nett instead of Gross income when it comes to loan approval will greatly affect the DTI ratio.

Please be mindful that debt also includes your other borrowing such as car loans, credit cards and personal loans.

6. Be a Guarantor for someone else’s Loan

According to Banking Info (by Bank Negara Malaysia), a guarantor will sign a legal contract which binds the guarantor to pay the debt of the borrower if the borrower is unable to service the loan.

Too often I have come across cases whereby the guarantor gets into trouble when the main borrower is unable to service the loan. I have even seen cases where the borrower ran away and cannot be found. In this situation the bank will go after the guarantor. The guarantor will only have 2 choices either to service the loan or face being sued for bankruptcy. When this happens, even people with good financial standing will find it difficult to obtain a loan. Be careful when you are asked to be a guarantor.

7. No Shopping Around

I had a customer some years ago who bought a 3 storey semi-D in Penang. At the time of purchase she went to the bank to get her home loan. The loan was approved by the bank with the condition that RM200,000 be placed as Fixed Deposit lien. She did not go to other banks to enquire and took up the offer. In 2009 during the economic downturn, her business took a dip and she needed the money to sustain her business but her bank was unable to release the lien. At the end she decided to sell her house at a loss and she also had to pay a penalty of 5% on her RM500,000 loan.

This situation can be avoided if she had gone to various banks and shopped around. Maybe she did not even have to put up the lien. Different banks have different approval criteria. One bank’s rejection can be another bank’s approval.

8. Failure to plan

Having a Home Loan is our single largest commitment. Many borrowers take on loans they cannot even afford after taking into account their income and expenses. It will be wise to do your own financial planning before committing yourself to any loans.

Failing to plan will also cause the borrowers to lose tens and thousands in interest. Remember, “Even small monthly savings can add to a big sum”. By making constant extra repayment to the home loan will enable the borrower to save a lot in interest and also to finish the loan much earlier than the original tenure.

9. Choosing a Mortgage Lender

I am very particular when it comes to choosing a mortgage officer who is going to process my loans. One of my criteria is that the mortgage officer must have at least 1 year’s experience. This is of upmost importance as their experience in recommending your loans will be paramount to determining your loan approval.

10. Should I buy Mortgage Reducing Term Assurance (MRTA)?

When it comes to buying Insurance a lot of borrowers try to avoid it. If you do not have a life insurance at least buy MRTA. MRTA will cover you in the event of death or permanent disablement. Even if you have life insurance you can still purchase MRTA for extra protection for you and your family. MRTA is much cheaper than the life policy but the coverage is limited.

Great Tips to Choose a Car Loan

Every car is much more than a four-wheeled automobile. It’s owner’s glory, passion and a source of great admiration. Yes, a car is not just a means of transportation. It’s America’s pride and its ultimate ecstasy.

When one sets out to buy a car, several things are to be considered. Most people have an idea of what car to buy. But, there is confusion and dilemma when the topic of car loans comes up. This article will give you a detailed understanding of the many auto financing options available with you.

>> Money Before Everything Else << It is so true. You cannot venture out for buying a car when you have no idea about your finances. If you think car loans are going to do everything for you, think again. You will have to manage down payment and also ensure regular payments. Car loans are just to provide ease in buying. Finding that perfect car loan requires you to carefully put together all your income and expenses and then preparing your budget. You will have to consider your savings and choose something that will not give you financial trouble. >> A Plenitude Of Options << Everything depends on getting the information that suits your situation. So, don't settle for the first financing option you get. Don't just stroll into your local dealer's office or your neighborhood bank. You must first do a complete research and analyze your condition and needs. To help you make a good choice, here's all the information about car loan types. Check out all the advantages and disadvantages of every option. It will help you make a wise decision. >> Dealership Financing << A car loan with a car from the same yard- seems too alluring to ignore! Most Americans choose dealership financing because it offers a one-stop solution. Dealers offer loans for new as well as used cars. You must know that most dealers are link between you and the lender. Such dealers won't themselves lend you money, instead will sell you loan application to lenders. This option is convenient but make sure that dealer is not charging a high interest rate. For that, you must research and be wary of any red flags. Also, don't opt for any add-on if you don't feel their need. It will help you reduce the cost. >> Personal Loans << Banks and financial institutions offer loans for almost any purpose like buying a personal item or even a holiday trip. You can avail personal loans for buying your dream car. Now, this type of financing is useful when you need a loan for a smaller amount like $15,000. >> Car Leasing << This is another option for you. When you lease a car, you only pay for the cost of using it. The biggest advantage with leasing is that your monthly payments will be significantly lower than the usual car loan payments. You don't have to worry about down payment and the lease agreement will get over in two-three years. You always have the option of buying the car at the end of lease agreement. When you go for lease financing, don't forget to negotiate the car price. Most buyers think that one must pay the full sticker price which is wrong. >> Equity Loans << If you are one of those few lucky people who have sizable assets like a house, you can go for equity loans. You can avail a home equity loan by using your home as collateral. Although the rates are lower and the interest is tax-deductible, there is the risk of losing your home. >> Credit Cards << Though it may sound unusual, but there are many who opt for this method. A credit card can help you buy a car for a smaller amount like $10,000. You must have a low-interest credit card. With large competition, getting a low-cost card won't be a trouble for you. The only thing is that you will have to restrict other purchases on your card. Also, most credit card companies charge a 3% processing fees. If you are sure of paying this charge to the dealer, go for it. >> Car Loans << This is as popular as dealership financing, if not more. In this type of loan, your car is used as collateral against monthly payments. It is very good option if you make regular payments. The only thing that you need to keep in mind is that you won't be able to finance a car older than six/seven years. >> Online Car Loans << This type is just the blend of car loans and the internet. With technological advancements, you can get everything on the net and car loans are no different. Online lending companies have a large network of lenders and dealers who bid for your application. All you need to do is fill a simple online application form. As there is a wide network, getting a loan is relatively easy. Also, the convenience of availing a loan without moving out of the house is very tempting. You should only be concerned about the company's reliability. You can check the website's safety by going through their security certificate. Don't go for a company that charges for loan quotes because there are many reputable sites that offer free quotes. How To Choose That Perfect Car Loan? Just go over with a fine-tooth comb. Once you decide on the type of car loan and apply, it's time to scrutinize the loan quotes. Loan payments are important but it shouldn't be the soul of your decision. There are several factors which are equally important. Before you rush to your decision, take a look at these variables. Loan Term Your loan term will have a huge impact on your loan. A longer loan term will mean that your monthly payments are smaller, but you may eventually be paying more interest rate. It is advisable that your term should be in accordance with the useful life of the car. Your loan should get over before the life of car to avoid the risk of an upside-down loan. Interest Rates Interest depends on factors like the loan amount, loan term, credit score, financial condition, etc. One important tip to lower loan rates is by making a substantial down payment. This will reduce your loan amount and also instill a sense of faith in the lender. APR The Annual Percentage Ratio will tell you about the total cost of the loan including all fees and charges. Most borrowers consider just monthly payments. But, it is impossible to compare different loan quotes with different loan terms. When you compare two loan quotes with the help of APR, you are taking into consideration all the variables. Clauses You must compare loan quotes on the basis of the clauses in the loan agreements. Few lenders prohibit you from refinancing your car loan for the first few months. Some lenders also offer zero percent financing for the first few months only and then charge a floating interest rate. So, check for such clauses which may cause problem in the future. Charges And Penalties Check the loan contract for origination fees, annual charges, prepayment penalty and penalty for missing out on a payment. Choose a lender that has lesser fees and doesn't charge you for making early re-payment. The latter will be useful if you decide to refinance your loan. Payments It is important to know whether you are supposed to make payments weekly or monthly. If you can afford monthly payment, don't consider any other option. This is so because it will give you the choice of making regular payments without any undue financial restraints.