Manage your mortgage like an investment

Published 9:12 am Friday, September 2, 2011

By WAYNE CURTIS / Guest Columnist

Like many Americans, your home represents your largest investment. And, like most of them, you probably have a home mortgage.

Keep in mind that you should strive to manage your home mortgage just as you manage your other investments.

This will protect your home investment in both good and bad times, especially the latter.

Let’s review some actions you can take. First, make your mortgage payments on time.

Failure to keep your payments current can be expensive in terms of late fees and a lower credit score. The latter can affect future borrowing costs.

If your financial situation permits, you might consider paying off your loan faster than your payment schedule dictates.

This could substantially reduce the total cost of financing your home.

You could accomplish this by refinancing your home at a lower rate, switching to a shorter-term mortgage, making your payments every two weeks instead of monthly or sending one additional payment each year.

Another action you should take is to set aside funds into an emergency account.

The idea is to have a pool of savings available to cover six monthly mortgage payments plus your property tax payments. These funds can be used when you have temporary difficulties.

Finally, should you experience prolonged financial problems and have trouble making your mortgage payment — as is the situation for many individuals today — your first step is make contact with your lender. In today’s economic environment, lenders are generally receptive to your requests for assistance. This is because a troubled loan presents significant regulatory and financial concerns for the lender.

Your lender has a number of options.

These may include temporarily reducing payments to cover interest only, decreasing the interest rate, increasing the length of your loan or temporarily deferring your payments.

Whether you are a long-time homeowner, a beginner or considering purchasing a home in the future, keep the above advice in mind.

Wayne Curtis, Ph.D., is on the board of directors of First United Security Bank.  He may be contacted at