Always obtain loan agreements in writing and read the fine print. One of the biggest mistakes borrowers make is entering into verbal agreements. If things go wrong there is no evidence to prove the case. Debtors should know the number of deferred payments, payment schedule, fees or penalties, and how the lender reports suspended payments to credit bureaus.
It is important to note that some banks do report deferred payments as delinquent. Therefore, it is crucial to ask lenders how they report to credit bureaus before entering into a contract. Payments reported as past due can reduce FICO scores. Depending on credit scores, a reduction of ten points can place debtors in a lower credit category; making it difficult to obtain credit in the future.
Lenders may require borrowers to submit a financial letter of hardship which explains the circumstances causing them to require a loan deferment. Hardship letters are usually required with federal student loans and real estate transactions such as loan modifications.
Loan agreements, like any contract, reflect an "offer," the "acceptance of the offer," "consideration," and can only involve situations that are "legal" (a term loan agreement involving heroin drug sales is not "legal"). Loan agreements are documented via their commitment letters, agreements that reflect the understandings reached between the involved parties, a promissory note, and a collateral agreement (such as a mortgage or a personal guarantee). Loan agreements offered by regulated banks are different from those that are offered by finance companies in that banks receive a "banking charter" granted as a privilege and involving the "public trust."
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