It’s getting increasingly tougher to buy a house. Sure, sales are in a funk, but that hasn’t yet pushed down prices by any great degree. Foreclosures are at record high levels, prompting lenders to tighten credit standards. Some loan products have vanished. Sixty-nine percent strongly agreed that they are more likely to trust a mortgage lender who is open and honest about the many options available to them given their individual situation. Asked their level of agreement with the notion that the way in which closing costs are paid should be tailored to the individual based on the borrower’s unique set of circumstances, 87 percent strongly agreed or somewhat agreed. Nine out of 10 U.S. homeowners agree that there is really no such thing as a mortgage without fees. Three of five U.S. homeowners indicated strong agreement with the idea that “one size fits all” mortgages aren’t necessarily the best option for everyone. “People clearly understand that there will be costs when they finance a home,” Dan Hanson, managing director of Countrywide, said in a statement. Naturally, there is a marketing campaign afoot here. Countrywide calls it “It’s Your Choice.” Here are a couple of examples. No money needed for closing costs because a lender can pay them. In this scenario, the lender does not require cash from the borrower to pay closing fees. Instead, the buyer obtains a loan with a slightly higher interest rate. The company said this can be a smart move for buyers who have little money set aside or who plan to be in a home for a short time because their savings in closing costs can often more than offset their increased interest expense. Reap the rewards of lower interest when you pay closing costs upfront. This may benefit a buyer who is planning on staying in a home for a while because the lower rates saves them money over the long term. Minimize your mortgage interest rate by paying loan discount points. It could be attractive if you plan to stay in the home for more than five years. Mix it up with the combination of a first mortgage and a second mortgage. It’s a way to avoid private mortgage insurance and enables you to pay down the second mortgage separately. If the second mortgage is a home equity line of credit, borrowers may reuse the available credit in their line as they pay it down. None of this seems new. During the big boom in the early part of this decade, when many buyers treated their homes like an ATM, I asked a Countrywide executive how many specific kinds of home loans were available. He couldn’t tell me. Neither could executives at companies that track how mortgage rates behave. Whatever kind of loan you decide to get, just make sure to read the fine print. [email protected] (818) 713-3743160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! But Calabasas-based Countrywide Home Loans, the nation’s largest lender, last week began what it called a broad initiative to let buyers know there are options when it comes to obtaining a loan or refinancing. The company said its 9,000-strong sales force is getting new mortgage cost calculators, which will show customers cost-effective choices for structuring their home loans. The company even commissioned a national survey last month of 3,435 adults (including 2,280 homeowners), asking them to compare choice vs. a one-size-fits-all mortgage. The survey found: 76 percent strongly agreed that they wanted to be informed by mortgage lenders about as many closing cost choices as possible so they can make a decision best suited to their circumstances.