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Fair Housing

The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1998 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability or family status in the sale, rental, and financiang of dwellings.

Here are some possible signs of discrimination in housing. If you believe you have been a victim of housing disctimination, contact The Denver Metro Fair Housing Center at720-279-4291 or CMFHC@dmfhc.org.

In purchasing a home:

- Did  you receive a loan with higher rates or less favorable terms?

- Did the lender mislead you or change terms?

- Were you assured that you didn't need to get a home inspection? Lead inspection?

- Have difficulty purchasing homeowners insurance because of your neighborhood?

- Did you realtor recommend houses in specific neighborhoods?

- Were you referred to a particular lender because it was assumed you had credit problems?

- Were you discouraged from applying for a loan from any lender?

When renting:

- Were you told an aprartment was "just rented" but noticed it was still advertised the next day?

- Did the landlord require to see your immigration papers or ask where you were from?

- Are families with children segregated to only certain buildings in the apartment complex?

- Are  you charged higher rent or other charges because you have children?

- Are you harassed or intimidated by  your landlord or apartment manager because of your sex, race, color, national origin, religion, disability or family status?

- Does your landlord make sexual comments?

- Were you offered less information that another applicant?
- Has the landlord or property manager made repairs for tenants of one race but not for those of another race?

- Did the landlord refuse to allow you to make modifications because of your disability?

- Did the landlord put conditions on your activities because they believe you are HIV positive?

Check for Signs of Predatory Lending

High Points and Fees: On average, banks charge 1% or less of the loan amount for points and fees that go directly to them.

Yield Spread Premiums: Be aware that brokers may be getting paid an extra bonus or yield spread premium for putting you in a higher cost loan than the best you can qualify for.

Credit Insurance Poducts: Some lenders may try to sell you insurance policies along with your loan.  Credit insurance policies are usually more expensive than other kinds of insurance, and seldom make financial sense.

Prepayment Penalties: Many subprime loans include prepayment penalties, which require you to pay thousands of dollars extra if you decide to refinance the loan with in the first several years of the loan, or if you sell youy house during this period.

Balloon Payments:  Balloon mortgages have the payments structured so that after making all the monthly payments for several years, the borrower still have to make one big "balloon payment" that may be as much as the original loan amount.  Most borrowers should stay away form balloon mortgages.

Adjustable Rates: Not all adjustable rates are bad, but adjustable rates can cause serious problems.  Some adjustable rates can only go up from the place they start, and never down.  Othes are guaranteed to go up after some initial 'introductory' period.  If you have a fixed income and the rates are relatively low, it almost never makes sense to get an adjustable rate mortgage. Do not count on lender promises that you can refinance before an interest rate changes.

Mandatory Arbitration: Some lenders include mandatory arbitration clauses in their home loans.  Signing one of these means that you give up the right to sue in court if the lender does something you believe is illegal.  There is no reason a lender who is doing business fairly should want you to give up your legal rights.

False or Incomplete Documents: Some lenders and brokers with "help" a borrower qualify for a loan they cannot afford.  Watch out for any offers that depend on saying you make more than you really do, or have more money in the bank, or are expecting a gift.  Don't sign paperwork that says your income or assets are different that what they really are.

Missing Costs: Find out whether payments for homeowners insurance ot tax payments and taxes are, or are not included in your monthly payments.  Usually these are included on 'A' loans, but more often they are not in subprime loans.  Of course, if they are not included in your payment, you will have to pay them on top of what  you pay every month.

Loans for more than your home is worth: Beware of offers to loan you more than your home is worth.  Once you owe more than your home is worth, other responsible lenders will not be willing to refinance you, and you will be stuck with whatever rate you were pushed into.

If you believe you are a victim of housing discrimination, contact the Denver Metro Fair Housing Center at 720-279-4291 or DMFHC@dmfhc.org.