Banks and other credit institutions are still very cautious to offer loans at the relatively low prices consumers enjoyed for the last few years.

But the fragile housing and credit markets already caused earnings in the thrift industry to plummet significantly in the third quarter of 2018, creating, at the same time, opportunities for consumers looking for a new home loan or a way to refinance the one they have.

The Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) just reported that in the third quarter of 2018 net income for financial institutions – primarily deposit corporations – plunged 84 percent to $704 million, from $4.29 billion in the same quarter of last year.

Yet, the same industry originated close to 30 percent of one out of four family loans nationwide, providing a slight but positive change in the housing market.

With some research and some changes in your credit, now is easier for you to find a good mortgage or refinance the one you have.

10 Steps to Get a New Mortgage or Refinance an Existing One

1. Before you apply for a mortgage try to raise your credit score as much as you can in the next months: Your credit score is the first number credit institutions look when reviewing a loan application. The only exception is payday loans from ElcLoans and similar websites – they accept borrowers with all credit ratings and sometimes do not perform credit checks. With ElcLoans,  even bad credit is OK to submit a payday loan application.

2. Make all your credit and bill payments on time: this will help maintain your credit score. Paying off most or all of your credit debt will increase your credit score too. “But don’t close any credit card accounts and don’t open any new ones before you get a mortgage, because either action could negatively affect your credit score,” according to Mira Marshall, an FDIC Senior Policy Analyst.

3. If you are planning on a new home, consider making a large down payment if you can bear the cost: this could help you to qualify for a loan or lower your mortgage price.

4. Use common sense: if your financial situation makes it hard to buy a home at this point, wait some time or try looking for properties with a lower price.

5. Shop around, compare mortgages and negotiate prices: lenders might consider a better price in the interest rate, closing costs, or other terms if they know you are shopping around. Make sure you visit your bank too and ask for special home loans they offer to the community.

6. Get online and do some research: you will find different mortgages available to compare prices.

7. Compare mortgages with fixed rates and adjustable rates: adjustable-rate mortgages offer a lower interest rate for some period of time, after which it fluctuates according to a market index.

8. Consider carefully the payments you will have to make during the life of the loan whether it is a fixed or adjustable-rate interest.

9. Compare both fixed and adjustable-rate mortgage side by side: take into account real estate taxes and insurance costs, and see how payments differ in time. Ask your prospective lender if there will be any fees to pay and prepayment penalties. This way, you will know what to expect in case you want to refinance or sell your home in the future.

10. Make sure the information in your credit report is correct; otherwise, make sure it gets corrected: you are entitled to a free credit report every year. You can obtain one a or by calling toll-free 1-877-322-8228. For more information, you can visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Web site at

Mortgages are tough to come by and will be in the near future; however, the critical situation for the credit market is creating some opportunities you can take advantage of. The key is to take action and be diligent in your search for the home loan or refinancing you want.