Second Opinions on Good Faith Estimates

Update August 15, 2010:  Since 2010, HUD has created a new GFE and rate shoppers may find a challenging time obtaining an estimate from a mortgage originator without meeting what HUD constitutes an application.  Many mortgage originators are issuing "rate quote work sheets" with a Good Faith Estimate to follow once the 6 points of information (application including a credit report).

EDITORS NOTE:  This is another personal favorite article that I wrote at Rain City Guide.  Since I'm taking a few days off from blogging, I thought I'd share it with my Mortgage Porter readers.   To read the original post including the comments, please visit Rain City Guide.  With the changes to the Good Faith Estimate that have happened in 2010, this post is as relevant as ever.

A few weeks ago, one of the Realtors I work with, Suzy Seller, contacted me to see if I could help her client with an out-of-state mortgage.   Ima Rusty (names are changed to protect the innocent), was moving to Arizona to retire and perhaps see the sun.   Ima had gone to her “local bank mortgage company” since they had provided her mortgage for her home in Washington, for her financing on her new home.    For some reason, Ima was not feeling very confident with her lender after two weeks into the transaction.

Since I stick to lending in Washington State, I offered to review Ima’s good faith estimate for her.   The rate was fine and the closing costs all seemed in line…everything looked great until I noticed that on the Federal Truth In Lending, the box that states there “may be a prepay” was checked.    According to Ima, their credit is perfect.   She was completely unaware of a prepayment penalty.   After I encouraged her to contact the Loan Originator to ask if there is indeed a prepayment penalty.  Maybe the box was marked in error?  Here’s what Ima told me:

I was able to speak with our loan officer and arrange for the documents to be changed to reflect appropriate changes to allow prepayment of up to 20% of the loan amount within a 12 month period without penalty or fees thereby reducing the monthly payment.  I am satisfied that we’ve covered the areas which were of major concern and as far as I can see, we’re “good to go”.

He bamboozled her into thinking she did not have a true prepayment penalty.  He did not make any changes to her documentation…this is a boiler plate prepayment penalty.   I proposed one last question for her.   “What if you decide to sell the property next year”.   After all, what if after the Rusty’s move to AZ, they miss our rain and our four seasons?   That’s when she discovered that the prepayment penalty was for three years

Ima Rusty decides this is a bad deal.   After confronting the Loan Originator, the Rusty’s decide they want out.   The Loan Originator was unwilling to waive or reprice the loan without the prepayment penalty.   I have a hard time believing this was their only option.  Especially since the prepayment penalty was not explained (it was disclosed…only by sneaking it on the TIL) to the Rustys upfront.

I often review Good Faith Estimates to check on the rate, closing costs and prepayment penalties.   When a rate looks too good to be true (something I cannot come near offering), I encourage the borrower to see if they can lock it in and to have the LO provide a written lock confirmation.    I also advise borrowers to see if the Loan Originator will guarantee the closing costs (Section 800) on the good faith estimate.  A consumer should bring their Good Faith Estimate to their signing appointment to compare the closing costs with those on the HUD-1 Settlement Statement.   If a Loan Originator starts back peddling when asked these questions, I suggest that the borrower should do the same. 

Second opinions on Good Faith Estimates are FREE and any Mortgage Professional should be happy to provide this without running your credit.   

By the way, Ima Rusty use to work for an attorney…

I did send [Big Bank Mortgage] an email message which included reference to fair lending practices (not specifically predatory lending laws)…. I have been in touch with the Attorney General’s office and they seem to feel there’s some indication of senior exploitation in this case.  If we want to proceed with an investigation they are willing to do so…. Meanwhile, I’ve cancelled the [Big Bank Mortgage] loan and requested cancellation of our line of credit.  

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