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WASHINGTON – The so-called specialty mortgage loans being marketed heavily by lenders may be enticing to consumers and could have helped some consumers who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford to buy a home, become homeowners. But the Center for Responsible Lending and the National Association of RealtorsT say homeowners need to know the risks and advantages of specialty mortgage products before committing themselves. The two groups have collaborated to produce a new brochure – “Shopping for a Mortgage? Do Your Homework First” – designed to do just that. The brochure is part of a new NAR consumer education campaign focused on specialty loans and abusive lending practices. It covers conventional 15- and 30-year fixed rate and adjustable rate mortgages, as well as the more “exotic” loan products including interest-only mortgages, 40-year fixed-rate mortgages, negative amortization mortgages, and option payment adjustable-rate mortgages. CRL’s Mike Calhoun, general counsel said the groups are warning homebuyers to approach the new specialty mortgages carefully. “They should be cautious about accepting a mortgage they can’t afford. These mortgages can be devastating for families who are stretching their budget to buy a home.” Homebuyers, for example, may not realize that monthly payments on some types of specialty mortgages can increase by as much as 50% or more then the introductory period ends. NAR Chief Economist David Lereah stressed that, “Consumers particularly need to understand the risks inherent in specialty mortgages when financing a home purchase.”

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