A balloon loan has nothing to do with hot air or floating around the world in 80 days. Fail to plan very carefully when using one of these loans, however, and your financial world will definitely go down in flame like the Hindenburg.
A balloon loan is a mortgage with a fixed interest rate for a set period of years. Unlike traditional fixed rate home loans, the interest rates on balloon loans are nearly as low as those found on adjustable rate mortgages. The problem with balloon loans, however, is the term.
While balloon loans provide a low fixed interest rate for a set period of years, those years are not in abundance. Instead of a fifteen or thirty year repayment term, a balloon loan typically has a term of seven to ten years, depending upon what the lender was willing to give you. At the end of the term, you must repay the balloon loan in full. Yes, in full. Let’s take a look at how this can play out.
In 2005, you find a home you love but can’t qualify for a loan. You are so engrossed with the loan that you eventually locate a lender willing to write you a balloon loan. The loan is for $400,000 and has a 7 year term. At the end of the seven years, you’ve paid the loan down by $50,000, but still owe $350,000. Somehow and someway, you must come up with that $350,000 to pay off the loan. If you don’t, the lender will foreclose on the home.
Every borrower that goes with a balloon loan fully intends to refinance the property before the balloon blows. While this makes sense, you have to keep in mind that refinancing is no sure thing. Maybe you can, but maybe you can’t. Also, we are experiencing some of the lowest loan rates every seen. Chances are very strong that in seven years, rates are going to be much higher. Are you really going to be able to afford those rates?
Balloon home loans are all about seeing the future. In essence, you are pulling out the tea leaves and betting on rates in 2012 or so. If you get it wrong, your financial life can become a nightmare.
If you are facing a potential foreclosure, you are in a tough situation. But you aren't alone. With interest rates on the rise and home appreciation on the slow down, many homeowners are having trouble hanging on to their homes.
And there are plenty of people banking on the desperation that this causes. You may have noticed advertisements popping up for help avoiding foreclosure. Are they legit?
First of all, no matter what your situation, you should always treat any offer of assistance with caution. Many cons use "helping" as a way to cheat struggling homeowners out of their equity. You could lose the money you have in your home and your home too.
Mortgage foreclosure rescues come in several forms. You may be loaned money by the rescuer in order to pay off the mortgage that is facing foreclosure. You will be asked to sign a loan agreement, but it isn't what it seems. You are actually transferring all of your interest in the property to the rescuer. You are then evicted from the home.
Sometimes, the homeowner knows that he is signing over the title to the property. The rescuer pays off the property and the homeowner agrees to lease the home and continue to live there until he is back on his feet financially. But the lease payments will become larger than the mortgage payments. The victim falls behind and is evicted. If the victim doesn't fall behind, the rescuer will set the price of the home so high that it cannot be repurchased.
Many homeowners believe that if they are foreclosed on, they loose everything. Even if you lose your home to the lender, you may still receive money for it. The lender will only take any unpaid mortgage and associated fees out of the sale price of the property. The rest is your equity and will be paid to you. If you sign over your property to someone else, they will receive the proceeds from the sale.
How do you recognize and avoid scams?
1. Ignore any signs or bulletin board notes that offer foreclosure help. If they are advertising on the windshield of your car, they probably aren't legit.
2. Don't give out any information to anyone who contacts you wanting to help. Cons frequently check the public foreclosure notices for potential targets. They are betting that you are desperate to find a way out of your situation.
3. Read every single document, front and back. If an offer is too good to be true, it probably is. If someone says that you won't get a dime after your home is sold, don't put your trust in them. There is often a good chance that you will. For a few hundred dollars, you should have an attorney accompany you to read through every document that you are expected to sign. Also, watch out for documents with blanks and empty spaces.
4. Check out any company you are considering turning to with the Better Business Bureau and the state Real Estate Commission. You might even want to contact the state attorney general's office to see if there are any open investigations of the company or its owners.