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Owning a home has always been an important part of the American Dream. But today, millions of homeowners are dealing with the very serious consequences of a battered financial industry, a stagnant real estate market, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and severely under-valued properties.

If you currently own a home or are considering purchasing one in the near future, make sure you understand the true risks and rewards of homeownership. Take the time to investigate all the financial aspects that come with owning a property so that your personal American Dream doesn't become an American Nightmare.

Mortgage Payments

The thought of losing your home is terrifying. Unfortunately, the collapse of the housing market a few years ago and the continuing slow economic recovery mean that millions of Americans are still facing this frightening situation. If you are currently behind on your mortgage payments, you should contact your loan servicer as soon as possible. There are various options which may be available to you if you are having trouble making your home loan payments.

Foreclosure Rescue Scams

It's hard to imagine that there are unscrupulous people out there whose only goal is to trick unsuspecting individuals into believing that they are safe from foreclosure but sadly, it is true. These fraudulent companies take your money and you end up losing your home anyway. Protect yourself! Learn to spot the "warning signs" of foreclosure rescue scams.

Reverse Mortgages

Reverse mortgages are generally marketed to homeowners who are 62 years old or older and are looking for additional sources of money to help pay for home improvements or offset medical expenses. A reverse mortgage basically allows a homeowner to convert a portion of the equity in the home into cash without having to sell the property. If you qualify for a reverse mortgage and are considering one, learn all the facts before making this important financial decision.

Mortgage Servicing

The mortgage industry has undergone tremendous changes in recent years. If you are currently a homeowner, it makes good financial sense to find out all you can about your mortgage lender and be certain they are servicing your home loan properly. Horror stories abound about mortgage companies who have "misplaced" payments, lost payments altogether, or have credited payments to the wrong account. Understand what your mortgage servicer is required to do and know your legal rights.

Home Loan Options

If you are ready to buy a home now or plan to in the near future, understanding the various loans which are available is very important. Once you have determined how much you can afford to pay each month for a mortgage payment, then you are ready to select the type of loan which works best for your financial situation.

Be Alert to Mortgage Assistance Relief Scams

The thought of losing a home to foreclosure is a frightening prospect. But the reality that unscrupulous businesspeople are trying to take advantage of vulnerable homeowners with empty promises and unfounded claims is even more troubling. If you are currently struggling to make your mortgage payments or are facing foreclosure, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wants all consumers to know how to recognize a Mortgage Assistance Relief scam.

What to Expect at a Mortgage Closing

Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or have been through the process before, it's always good to know what to expect at the mortgage closing. Financial experts agree that it is in your best interest to know what is going on every step of the way, to understand what you are signing, and to be aware of the exact amount of your closing costs. Knowing what will happen on closing day and being prepared can let you concentrate on the really big event - owning your new home.

Deciding How Big of a Mortgage You Can Afford

Buying a home is one of the biggest financial investments you will ever make. But before you sign on the dotted line, there are some important things to consider. No one wants to be house-poor. So instead of asking "How big a mortgage can I get?" ask yourself "How much house can I comfortably afford?".