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GUIDES CAN EASE FEAR OF BUYING A HOME

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The federal government offers a number of consumer publications on mortgages and other real estate-related issues.

Few would be of interest to an experienced buyer, but several could be useful to those who have not bought a house before and aren't familiar with mortgage financing.Here's a sampling of what's available, along with a synopsis, the cost and where to get the publication:

- "The Mortgage Money Guide" $1.25. Available by writing the Consumer Information Center, Dept. 128-B, Pueblo, CO 81009.

This 16-page booklet explains and discusses a number of financing options, including fixed-rate mortgages, ARMs, balloons, wraparounds, shared appreciation, graduated payment, buy-downs, land contracts, rent with options and seller take-backs. It also cites advantages and disadvantages of each.

It gives several examples of mortgages and payments, but the interest rates used - 12 percent and 13 percent - are much higher than you'll find in the market today. A table in the back shows monthly payments at various interest rates and house prices. Unfortunately, it only goes up to $100,000 for the amount financed and the mortgage rates go down only to 8 percent.

- "Home Buyer's Vocabulary" $1. Available by writing the Consumer Information Center, Dept. 127-B, Pueblo, CO 81009.

This consists of 14 pages of definitions of real estate terms. It includes common terms such as "closing costs" and more obscure phrases such as "quit claim deed."

- "Consumer Handbook on Adjustable Rate Mortgages." 50 cents. Available by writing Consumer Information Center, Dept. 334B, Pueblo, CO 81009.

This is one of the better publications. It explains adjustable mortgages in detail; tells buyers what to ask about ARMs; defines terms such as index, margin and discount; discusses payment shock; and offers examples of what can happen with an ARM. This 25-page booklet is about one-year ARMs, not longer-term adjustables.

- "A Consumer's Guide to Mortgage Lock-Ins" 50 cents. Available by writing Consumer Information Center, Dept. 335B, Pueblo, CO81009.

This 14-page book is a response to the many complaints that home buyers have had about lenders reneging on agreed-to mortgage rates. It explains what a lock-in is, how it can vary and gives names, addresses and phone numbers of federal agencies that will take complaints about lock-ins.

- "A Consumer's Guide to Mortgage Refinancing" 50 cents. Available by writing Consumer Information Center, Dept. 336B, Pueblo, CO 81009.

This is the weakest of the publications. It's barely seven pages long and skims over the topic lightly. Its best feature is a small chart showing average closing costs for each item in a typical refinance.

- "Guide to Single-Family Home Mortgage Insurance" $1.25. Available by writing Consumer Information Center, Dept. 126B, Pueblo, CO 81009.

The title of this 21-page booklet is somewhat misleading. It's not about mortgage insurance in general, just those backed by the Federal Housing Administration.

It explains what an FHA mortgage is, where to look for one, who qualifies and what the rules are.

- "Rehab a Home with HUD's 203K" 50 cents. Available by writing Consumer Information Center, Dept. 347B, Pueblo, CO 81009.

This 30-page booklet is crammed with information about an obscure program that probably would be of use to a lot of people if they knew about it. It explains in detail how to get a mortgage and, at the same time, additional money to fix up the house you're buying. Included is a useful question-and-answer section.