BUYER, BEWARE! How to protect yourself The Better Business Bureau offers these tips to guard against predatory lending practices which have caused some unwary consumers to lose their homes:

Don't rely on the contractor to arrange your financing. Shop around for the lowest Annual Percentage Rate (APR).Watch for any large "balloon" payment that may be due at the end of the loan, especially if the monthly payments are low.Check financial papers for prepayment penalties, fees you would owe if you paid the loan off early. Look for a loan that carries no prepayment penalties.Make sure you understand any upfront costs which could increase the cost of your loan. These can include loan origination fees, finders' fees, broker fees, points, closing costs and credit life insurance.Compare lenders because the upfront fees are mostly additional profit for the lender and can vary widely.Ask about loan cancellation rights. If you need it, ask for help understanding the paperwork.Be sure you can afford the new monthly payments.

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