Book Review: Mind Your Own Mortgage

Mind Your Own Mortgage is a tract for the times. It was written in light of the recent financial meltdown, and seeks to get the U.S. economy in better shape by encouraging people to get their home economies in better shape.

The book comes in three main sections: Get a Grip on It (your mortgage), Shop for It and Manage It. The first section gives the lay of the land, talking about how the mortgage market works and how so many people have managed to ruin their finances. The second section is all about the mortgage shopping process, and encourages you to select a mortgage using the Mind Your Own Mortgage shopping system which uses forms from an accompanying Web site (be warned: full access to the Web site requires a paid membership). The third section talks about how to pay down a mortgage efficiently and when to refinance.

I am relatively young and have never owned a home, so this book was eye-opening for me. It taught me more about the mortgage business than I had ever known before. My head was spinning at points because of all the new information, especially while reading the second section. At the end of the book, I took away a few main principles, which Bernabe mentioned so frequently that I wasn’t allowed to forget: get a fixed-rate mortgage, not an adjustable-rate one. Shopping for a mortgage is about price (rate, points and fees), not about monthly payment. Don’t give in to the culture of consumption, but prioritize your spending so as to leave room for what’s important: relationships.

Some of the details discussed in this book may well be out of date in a few years, but it seems to me that the principles Bernabe emphasizes will stand the test of time. I’d recommend this book to anyone looking to buy a home, especially if they feel intimidated by the mortgage business or that they are living beyond their means.

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