As I begin writing this column I must admit two things: I never thought I would ever have to write a column like this and I believe that as bad as the credit and financial system in the United States looks at this time, it will make a full recovery and we will be able to move past this exceptionally painful period in our nations history. Before I lay out some rules that you need to consider I want to point out some things you should not be doing based on your fears. Remember, the events that are now happening are far worse than the majority of people felt would be and nobody has a crystal ball for the future. Hedge funds are being hurt, and thus being forced to liquidate heavily, because of their heavily leveraged positions. The same leverage that made them so successful on the upside and reared its ugly head and is”killing” them on the downside. Also the excesses which helped create the bubble on the upside are doing the same on the downside. The message is simply: stay positive and take care of what you need to do. Now let's take a look at some simple rules.
If you have a current mortgage that will be coming due in the next year or two that has a great rate, leave it alone (unless you absolutely need to get cash or you simply cannot keep paying on the mortgage). Too many people are predicting dire consequences for the future and want to trade in their 5 or 7 year arm (with a year or more left) into a fixed rate with higher interest. This is not a smart idea. The one thing you can control is paying down your mortgage. What you can't control is the interest rates. Pay down your mortgage if you are concerned about the future and do not raise your interest rate by refinancing for a longer term at this time.
Do not go to one of the many companies that have sprung up to help you negotiate with your lender. All lenders are aware that their borrowers are in trouble and will work with you. (I will get into this in greater detail). Paying someone to do the negotiations is throwing money away. You were able to get your own mortgage, you are able to negotiate a better situation for yourself with your lender.
Roger Schlesinger's Mortgage Minute is heard on hundreds of radio stations and daily on the Hugh Hewitt radio show and Michael Medved shows. Roger interacts with his hosts and explores the complicated financial markets in order to enlighten his listeners and direct them along their own unique road to financial freedom.