Mortgages: What you need to know in 2009

Now more than ever, shop around
In ordinary times, one loan is about as good as another because most lenders’ offers on 30-year loans are clustered within around a quarter of a percentage point. Not now. With the economy so shaky, lenders are all over the map in how much risk they’re willing to take in making loans. So it really pays to shop around. And keep checking, because rates are constantly changing. One day in late December 2008, Wells Fargo was offering 30-year conforming loans at 5.0 percent plus one point, while Bank of America was offering the same kind of loan at 6.625 percent plus one point, according to Cameron Findlay, chief economist of, a division of Home Loan Center. No offense to Bank of America, but only a sucker would have borrowed from it instead of Wells Fargo that day.