Mortgage 101 Videos Cut Through Confusing Jargon and Rules

LendingTree has this month launched seven new award-winning educational videos, each of which is designed to demystify one aspect of the often bewildering process home buyers and refinacers face. They're an attempt to cut through the industry's impenetrable jargon and rules, and provide both first-time buyers and old hands with the ability to move forward with confidence.

Mortgages Made Easy

The free videos, each of which lasts between about two- and three-and-a-half minutes, can be found on LendingTree.com or YouTube. They cover:

Learn How to Calculate Your Monthly Payment

Found your perfect home, and want to know if you can afford it? Or maybe you wish to test drive different scenarios to establish the price range in which you should be looking. That's when you need to use an online mortgage calculator. This video explains all the different information you're going to need to input in order to get the most accurate figures -- and it suggests sources for data you may not yet know.

2. What Does It Take to Qualify for a Loan?

It's getting easier all the time to qualify for mortgages, but lenders still want to know all about your financial situation. This video defines the five key criteria mortgage companies use when reaching lending decisions, and gives you some details about what they generally like to see. It also provides advice that might help you streamline the process.

3. Interest Rates vs. APRs -- Points

What's the difference between an interest rate and an APR? If you don't know, you may not be able to compare loan offers properly. Understanding that difference can be especially important if you think you're likely to sell or refinance before your mortgage is fully paid off. Why? Watch the video to find out. This one is also well worth viewing if you're unsure about how "points" work.

4. Understanding Loan Types

Making the right choice between a fixed-rate mortgage and an adjustable-rate one can save you thousands. But you can't make an informed decision without recognizing the risks that come with each. This video shows key differences in 125 seconds.

5. Understanding Closing Costs on Mortgage Loans

Closing costs have recently been trending upward, so it's important to get a good grip on them -- particularly the ones on which you may be able to make savings. Which are those? Can you negotiate with your lender on others? Should you pay points to reduce your mortgage rate? It's this video that answers those questions. It also covers Good Faith Estimates and HUD-1 forms, both of which are vital documents for any home buyer.

6. Guide to Buying a Home

You think the hard part's over when you've found your dream home. But there are a few hazards ahead during the offer process, and this video addresses some big ones. For example, if the contingencies you attach to your offer are incomplete or wrong, you could stand to lose your earnest money. In particular, you should include a financial contingency even if you have a mortgage pre-approval letter. Don't know what some of those terms mean? Watch the video.

7. Shopping for a Mortgage Loan, Refinance or Home Equity Loan

This video answers a whole lot of questions in under three minutes:

  1. Why comparison shopping for a mortgage is essential.
  2. Which documents your lender will likely want to see before issuing a pre-approval letter.
  3. Why a pre-approval letter is such a good idea.
  4. Why a pre-qualification letter usually isn't.

What's the Point?

In a press release, Fred Saunders, a LendingTree senior vice president, explained why the company invested in making the videos:

LendingTree research shows that most borrowers find the mortgage process to be confusing and complex. With the LendingTree Mortgage 101 videos, we wanted to answer typical questions and further educate consumers so they feel more confident in the mortgage process.

Making the Videos Effective

Fred Saunders and his colleagues clearly recognized the challenges associated with producing educational videos: Make them too long, and people won't watch them. Make them too complicated, and they won't meet their educational goals. Make them too simple, and they won't be worth viewing.

To ensure its videos were "Goldilocks" (not too anything) productions, LendingTree teamed up with Extractable, which is an award-winning digital agency based in San Francisco. On its website, Extractable claims it "blends user experience, creative and technology with insights from data to deliver innovative digital platforms that deliver results across all media and devices."

Has it delivered results this time? That's for you to judge. But the Mortgage 101 videos seem to this writer to do their job very well: they're concise, easy to understand, and packed with useful -- often critical -- information.

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