As of January 1, 2010, the federal government will enforce rules that require mortgage lenders and brokers to prepare a three-page ‘Good Faith Estimate’ report that provide home loan estimates to consumers. Implemented by the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), lenders and mortgage brokers must now give consumers standard estimate forms within three days of receiving loan applications. RESPA aims to prevent millions of Americans making poor loan choices particularly those who do not know that the lowest loan rates may not be the most beneficial option. To distinguish and compare plans with different combinations of rates, fees, and other terms, the ‘Good Faith Estimate’ report standardizes lender estimates by requiring lenders to provide an ‘origination fee,’ or payment to establish a bank or broker to handle the loan process, cannot increase. Other charges including title insurance, however, may increase.
Opponents of the new rules argue the new forms will not only add costs to lenders but ultimately make no mark on the shopping choices of consumers who often end up basing loan decisions on the recommendation of a real estate agent or broker.
When will the Banks tell prospective borrowers the true cost of their loan by giving them the Annual Percentage Rate (APR). As many people don’t know, the APR is the only true cost comparison when it comes to shopping for a mortgage. The APR is a function of the cost of the money over the entire course of the loan, with the bank fees and costs rolled into the calculation. If each broker and lender confessed how their fees impacted the actual cost of the loan, consumers would be in a position to quickly and easily understand which loan cost more.