When to Sell Mutual Funds; How Many Dollars Is It?

Q. I own shares in a "load" mutual fund. My broker tells me that I should not yet sell the holding, despite the fall in the market recently. What options do I have?

- Name withheld,

New Jersey

A. Load funds, which are often sold through brokers, have special commission charges. No-load funds either charge no sales commission or a very small load.

Your options include holding the shares as your broker recommends, selling (redeeming) them, or transferring the assets in the fund to another account within the same fund family, such as a money market account or bond fund. The company could charge a small fee for moving the money.

If you decide to sell or switch, you must first find out how your account is held, according to a spokesman for Putnam, one large load-fund group. If the account is held in the name of a broker, as sometimes occurs with load funds, then you will have to direct the broker to execute your transaction. If the shares are held in your name, you can call the 800-number for the fund group and ask the shareholder representative to carry out your wishes.

Q. How does devaluation of a currency impact a debtor with a $50,000 mortgage? Does the debtor pay back the same monthly payment, say $400, with the same amount of devalued dollars, or with a greater number of devalued dollars?

- J.D.

Tallahassee, Fla.

A. If someone is meeting mortgage payments on property in the United States, the payment amount will seldom if ever be directly affected by changes in the value of the dollar, says Steve O'Connor, with the Mortgage Bankers Association, in Washington. That is especially the case with fixed-rate 30-year mortgages.

You pay the dollar amount specified in the contract. Moreover, adjustable-rate mortgages, while subject to changes in payments based on various formulas, are usually "locked in" for at least a year at a time. Again, you pay a set dollar amount.

If you own property abroad, such as in Latin America, where devaluation sometimes occurs, you might be affected by currency changes, depending on the laws of that nation. You should contact your primary mortgage lender to determine your payment schedule, Mr. O'Connor suggests.

Questions about finances? Write:

Guy Halverson

The Christian Science Monitor

500 Fifth Ave., Suite 1845

New York, NY 10110

E-mail: halversong@csps.com

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