FORT MYERS, Fla. - When it comes to mortgages, nearly a third of all homeowners are clueless. That's according to a survey from real estate website Zillow.
For instance, nearly a third of all first-time homebuyers don't realize it's possible to get a home loan with a down payment of less than 5%. When in fact a loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration can require as little as 3.5% down.
One in five homeowners don't know that you can refinance if your mortgage is underwater.
"Most of the time they are not aware," Ken Falvey of the non-profit Affordable Homeownership Foundation said of many first-time homebuyers.
So where can you turn to learn more about your mortgage?
Let's start with down payments.
"The Florida Housing Authority has a bond program for down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers," Falvey said.
"There are several community banks, local banks, that have very, very good loan programs."
Homeowners who are underwater in their mortgage can find help from housing counseling agencies and government programs like HARP, Home Affordable Refinance Program, and HAMP, Home Affordable Modification Program.
Zillow also found that 1/4th of homebuyers aren't aware they can find better rates on their mortgage.
"Get the information from professionals, that's what they're out there to do is give that information," said Falvey.
Zillow points out that many homeowners focus on negotiating a lower home price and ignore finding the right loan. After all, if homeowners can lower their interest rate by just half a percentage point they can save thousands of dollars through the life of the loan.