Deciding what type of mortgage you want is a difficult job fort the typical homebuyer. The wrong choice can cost a lot of money over the years.

Washington Savings Bank of Hoboken, N.J., is trying to make that decision easier for its customers. It provides a pamphlet titled simply, "Mortgages."

The pamphlet talks first about the basic difference between a fixed and a flexible rate mortgage. But then it goes further, giving hints on how to decide which to pick.

These are its "Mortgage Tips," which other banks might find valuable to publish for their borrowers:

* "Don't wait to compare mortgage plans until after you begin shopping for your home.

* "Be sure to compare the advantages and disadvantages of each mortgage program including: interest rate, monthly payments, fees, and length to term.

* "When you shop for mortgage, carefully consider the points (a point equals 1% of the amount you will borrow) as well as the interest rate. Points are an up-front expense payable by the borrower.

* "If you plan on being in your home for a brief time. consider a loan with the least amount of points.

* "If you plan on being in the home for a long period of time. a loan with a lower interest rate and greater point fees may be preferable.

* "Fixed-rate mortgages tend to have higher initial rates than adjustable-rate mortgages. Carefully compare costs on all loans - and remember. the length of time you plan to reside in your home should have a bearing on the mortgage loan program you choose.

* "Do you plan to be in your home for a short period of time? If the answer to that question is yes. perhaps an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) is your best option. With low initial interest rates, you may benefit from substantial initial cost savings.

* "Find out whether the quoted interest rate is good for a specified time. You should ask the builder or lender how soon you must close to obtain the rate.

* "For an adjustable-rate mortgage, you should determine when interest rate adjustments. if any, will occur. Are there interest rate "caps" (maximum limits) and, most important, will you be able to afford increased payments that may result from interest rate adjustments?

* "You can save time and effort by having your monthly mortgage payment automatically deducted from your checking account.

* "You can realize cost savings when you borrow 80% or less of the purchase value of your home. By borrowing 80% or less you avoid having to obtain mortgage insurance."

Washington Savings also offers a take home work sheet which it explains is not loan application but rather a means of determining how much the potential borrower cab afford.

The bank evaluates the worksheets that are sent in and then schedules an appointment to talk over the conclusions.

Suggestion Box

A banker has informed the Weekly Adviser that in his town there were a number of people on welfare -- some of whom seemed to have considerable wealth somewhere.

The local newspaper published the names of those on the welfare roles, after which the number dropped significantly. The publicity shamed them into ending their tapping of the public trough.

Our banker friend then went on to suggest that maybe this could be a way of reducing the time it takes to foreclose on property A hen people default oil their home loans.

If the local newspaper were given a list of the people in default on mortgages whose loans were now in the hands of the sheriff of the bankruptcy courts, a number of them might be willing to pay or move out to get their names off this periodic list.

Weekly Adviser's suggestion: Check with your legal counsel first. We live in a crazy world where the rights seem to all be on the side of the borrower. So make sure that it is legal.

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