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You may have found that everyone seems to have a tidbit of sage wisdom to share when they learn that you're looking for a mortgage, but not all "conventional wisdom" may be up to speed with the times. It's important to have good information. This is a big decision, and not knowing all of your options could greatly impact both your buying power and financing for your new home.

Let's debunk the top 3 most common mortgage misconceptions you may encounter as you consider your options for purchasing and financing a home:

Misconception #1: Credit Ratings

"Poor credit scores stay with you forever."

Actually, credit scores change each month. A late payment in the previous month can seriously affect your score, but if you make all subsequent payments on time, each month your score should improve. There are many factors that affect your credit score, so bring your questions to your loan officer when you're getting ready to finance a home.

Misconception #2: Mortgage Costs

"Lenders get you with 'up-front' fees."

Most reputable lenders will provide you with a free pre-qualification while you're shopping for your home. Typical acceptable up-front fees are the property appraisal and the credit report. It's okay to ask your loan officer about what fees to expect during the process, how much they will be and when they'll be due.

Misconception #3: Housing Affordability

"A 20% down payment is needed to buy a home."

Not at all. There are loan programs that allow 0% to 3.5% down payments. Through loan products backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA-RD), a wide range of possibilities may be available even if you may not have a lot of money saved. Many State Housing Agencies allow borrowers to receive cash assistance for down payments, and even "Conventional" mortgage loans can have low down payment options. If you only have a little saved so far, ask about what options may be available to you.

It can all seem overwhelming but it doesn't have to be. Through the years there have been plenty of changes to the offerings and laws surrounding the mortgage industry so an experience that your friend had years back may not apply to what it's like to get a mortgage today.  If your helpful neighbor or knowledgeable Uncle Fred are insisting on something that doesn't match up with what you've been hearing elsewhere, bring your question to the professionals.