My Lender Won't Give Me a Good Faith Estimate!

The new GFE is expected to save borrowers an average of $700 per mortgage transaction, according to HUD. It makes shopping for a mortgage refinance easier and more transparent, putting the terms of your home loan upfront where you can easily see them, and including a worksheet to compare different home loans. But many lenders don't like to give out GFEs to people until they are required to by law, and the law doesn't apply to casual shoppers looking for mortgage rate quotes. So how can you get a GFE that commits the lender to the rate and fees it quotes you?

GFE = Increased Risk to Lender

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Every time it issues a GFE, the lender assumes some extra risk. That's because even fees charged by third party providers like title companies must be guaranteed within certain tolerances. And a mistake by an employee can cost a lender the entire profit on a mortgage transaction. For example, if someone prepares a GFE and mistakenly inputs title charges of $800 and the actual charges end up being $1,100, you have to pay only $880 (the estimated charges plus an allowed 10% tolerance), and your lender has to pay the remaining $220.

Easier for You = Harder for Some Lenders

While many lenders have no problem at all with issuing GFEs, and most welcome the transparency which makes it harder for the bad guys to compete unfairly with bait-and-switch tactics, some prefer not to disclose interest rates and fees upfront. The longer you are involved with a lender, the less likely you are to shop around for your loan. An article in Mortgage Professional Magazine counsels loan agents to avoid issuing a GFE until it's required by law and also advises them not to guarantee an interest rate more than one day.

So, How Do You Get a GFE?

Pass up any lender that doesn't feel it's interest rates will stand up to comparison. If you provide the following information, it triggers the requirement for a GFE within three days:

  • Your full name
  • Your monthly income
  • Your Social Security number
  • The property address
  • The loan amount
  • The property value or sales price
Once the lender has all of this information, you get to have a GFE and all the guarantees that come with it. Other factors that can change the price of your mortgage are the property use and property type. Verify how long the mortgage rate is guaranteed--mortgage rates change with financial markets all day long so don't expect a rate to be in force for long unless you lock it in.

A new GFE can be triggered by changes in income, property value / sales price, loan program, locking your rate, or your lock expiration. The final GFE is the only one that must essentially match your settlement statement. To be thorough, shop now, and then shop again when you prepare to lock your refinance interest rate.

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