Shopping for a loan? A good faith estimate will protect you.

The Los Angeles Times

Shopping for a loan? A good faith estimate will protect you
Beginning Jan. 1, the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) required lenders to issue Good Faith Estimates to protect consumers applying for mortgage loans.  Some loan officers, however, sidestep the new requirement by giving their initial quotes on informal worksheets that carry no federal consumer protections.  It is important that consumers understand the differences between the federally mandated good faith estimate form and a lender’s informal worksheet.

MAKING SENSE OF THE STORY FOR CONSUMERS

  • Last month, HUD told lenders and loan officers that under no circumstances can worksheet quotes be issued to a mortgage applicant in lieu of a good-faith-estimate form.
  • Under the new law, once a mortgage applicant supplies the essential application information, including Social Security number, property address, and estimated value, among other data, lenders must issue a binding-cost good-faith estimate.  Once this information is provided, lenders are required to issue the good faith estimate within three days of the application.
  • Loan officers cannot refuse to provide a good faith estimate to an applicant who requests one, nor can they tell applicants that they must commit to moving forward with their mortgage company to obtain a mortgage prior to receiving a good faith estimate.
  • Once an applicant has received a good faith estimate, they can take the form with them to comparison shop.  The new form includes itemized boxes allowing mortgage applicants to compare quotes from up to four lenders, such as interest rates, loan fees, prepayment penalties, and total settlement expenses.
  • The good faith estimate also ties upfront estimates to later charges at closing, and encourages borrowers to check line by line for any discrepancies.  The form explains which fees come with zero tolerance for changes between upfront estimates and closing—generally the lender’s own fees and local transfer taxes—and which fees allow a 10 percent fluctuation for changes higher than the estimate, such as certain title and closing-related services.
  • Some worksheets resemble good-faith estimates, but have titles such as “estimated settlement costs” at the top of the page.  Others indicate on the bottom of the form that the worksheet is not a good faith estimate, so consumers should carefully review documents before making any decisions.
     

To read the full story, please click here    http://www.latimes.com/classified/realestate/news/la-fi-harney28-2010feb28,0,6759544.story

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