A call for clarity at the closing table

Do consumers really know what they're signing?

A big piece of the current mortgage mess can be traced to the fact that borrowers were hit with loan presentations that seemed too good to be true. Mortgage money was easy to obtain, and some lenders raced to sign up as many customers as they could and pocket the loan fees. They didn’t really care if the borrower could actually afford the loan they were signing.

The prevailing philosophy was that if a borrower — regardless of age, income or nationality — got behind on mortgage payments, home appreciation would bail them out and provide the cushion to refinance the loan. That is no longer the case.

One of the biggest groups hit by the attractive yet misleading loan programs were "last-time buyers." These older consumers were not familiar with the terms or the plethora of loan programs available. These folks had no need, nor interest, in researching new loan terms and conditions because they had no intention of moving.

But suddenly something happened — perhaps an accident or injury that required that they leave their family home and purchase a residence that better suited their new needs.