Mortgages in Fiction: How Movies Get It Wrong

By | December 9, 2023

Movies and television shows often depict the process of getting and managing a mortgage with a flair for the dramatic, but these portrayals can sometimes lead to misconceptions about how mortgages really work. Let’s debunk some common myths perpetuated by fictional portrayals and set the record straight on mortgages.

Instant Mortgage Approvals

One of the most common tropes in films is the instant mortgage approval. Characters often visit a bank and walk out with a mortgage approval in a matter of minutes. In reality, mortgage approval is a detailed process that involves credit checks, employment verification, debt-to-income ratio analysis, and more. It usually takes several weeks to get approved for a mortgage.

Down Payments Glossed Over

Movies often gloss over the concept of down payments. Characters are seen buying homes with little discussion about the substantial amount of money required upfront. In reality, down payments are a significant part of the home-buying process, often requiring years of saving.

Overly Dramatic Loan Denials

Dramatic scenes where characters are flatly denied loans with little explanation are common in movies. In reality, lenders provide detailed reasons for loan rejections, and potential borrowers often have opportunities to address the issues, such as improving credit scores or reducing debt.

The Myth of Easily Changing Mortgage Terms

Some films show characters easily renegotiating their mortgage terms whenever it suits them. While refinancing is a real option, it’s not as simple or cost-free as movies make it seem. Refinancing involves costs, eligibility criteria, and it may not always be available or beneficial depending on market conditions.

Foreclosure Exaggerations

Foreclosure processes are often dramatized in movies, depicted as happening almost overnight. In reality, foreclosure is a legal process that takes months, if not longer. Homeowners have multiple opportunities to address their mortgage delinquencies before losing their homes.

Unrealistic Portrayals of Lenders

Lenders in movies are often shown as either overly villainous or unrealistically benevolent. The truth is more nuanced; lenders follow regulations and industry standards, and while they seek to profit from loans, they also work to mitigate risks responsibly.

Ignoring the Role of Mortgage Brokers

Films rarely show the role of mortgage brokers, who can play a vital part in the home-buying process. Brokers help borrowers find the best mortgage products for their needs and navigate the application process.

Overlooking the Complexity of Mortgage Products

Movies tend to oversimplify mortgage products, portraying them as one-size-fits-all. In reality, there’s a wide range of mortgage products available, each with its own set of rules, rates, and terms, suited for different financial situations and goals.


While movies and television shows provide entertainment, their portrayal of mortgages often misses the mark on accuracy. Understanding the realities of mortgages – the detailed approval process, the importance of down payments, the complexities of mortgage products, and the realities of foreclosure – is crucial for anyone considering homeownership. It’s important to separate cinematic fiction from financial fact when navigating the world of real estate financing.

Learn More About: Mortgage Wellness: Balancing Finances and Stress

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