No Good Faith Estimate Without a Rate Lock?

frustrated “I was just pre-approved for my loan, and although I was assured that I would receive a GFE, when I got my paperwork, I don’t have one. Just the lender’s own loan summary form. Two managers told me they don’t give out GFEs until a rate is locked. Isn’t this against the law? This isn’t the only lender that has told me that they cannot provide a GFE without a rate lock,” wrote a savvy but frustrated lady who’s read my books.

Since a lot of folks are hitting up against this brick wall, I thought it best to answer the question for everyone at the same time.

ANSWER

The short answer is yes, it sounds like they are in violation of the law. I’ll explain.

Effective January 1, 2010, a Good Faith Estimate is required to be issued no later than three  business days after the loan officer has received all of the following:

  • borrower’s full names
  • monthly income
  • social security numbers to obtain a credit report
  • property address
  • estimated value of the property
  • loan amount
  • any other information deemed necessary by the loan originator to complete an application

Receipt of the above items are how Federal banking law (HUD) defines a loan application.

From HUD’s Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RSPA) FAQ 23:

An application includes information the loan originator requires the borrower to submit in anticipation of a credit decision. If a loan originator issues a GFE, the loan originator is presumed to have received all six pieces of information.

So we see that a loan officer  can issue a Good Faith Estimate without the rate being locked; and in fact, is required to do so. A rate lock is not borrower information required for a credit decision, so there’s no loophole there.

What’s more, a loan officer must not require your signature before providing the Good Faith Estimate, because that might inhibit you from shopping, which you are fully entitled to. Here’s the quote fro the law.

HUD’s RESPA FAQ 31:

…a loan originator may not require a borrower to sign consents to verify employment, income or deposits as a condition of issuing a GFE as such a requirement may inhibit borrowers from shopping for the best loan by leading borrowers to believe that they are committed to obtaining a loan from that loan originator.

THE BOTTOM LINE

If you have provided all the information stated above to complete an application, your lender must either issue a Good Faith Estimate within three business days or deny your application.   If they do not, they are violating RESPA. I suggest you refer them to this blog post with a friendly reminder that they probably don’t want to be reported to HUD (U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development), the legal watchdog that is happy–if not eager–to “follow up” on lenders who violate the law.

ONE LAST COMMENT

Personally, I find the Loan Summary/Cost Estimate Worksheet/Initial Fees Worksheet (whatever your lender wants to call it) to be more revealing and more helpful than the new 3-page GFE that the Feds designed, because they show the breakdown of fees better and include more information (such as total monthly payment and cash to close) than the GFE does.

As always, your comments are welcome.

 

9 responses

  1. Thanks Carolyn. This response is extremely helpful. I’ve been trying to figure out how hard to push to get a GFE while we’re still house-hunting (so no property address yet to provide to lenders). Sounds like the “loan summary” on their forms should be sufficient to make an educated decision.

    1. You are correct. Due to new lending laws, I now recommend asking for a cost estimate or loan summary for upfront loan comparison.

  2. Carolyn,
    How do you know the true cost of the loan without the disclosure of origination fee, mortgage broker fee or YSP? All I would know is the estimated fees to be paid? Am I missing something?
    Kevin

    1. Kevin, that is a good question.

      A proper cost estimate/worksheet as well as the official 3-page GFE will show the origination fee. On the GFE, it is the top of page 2. That origination fee is the total of all lender fees (points, if any, admin fee, underwriting, processing, what-not fees).

      Then #2 right below shows a so-called “credit.” That credit is the YSP, if there is one. Remember, lenders using their own money to fund the loan do not disclose a YSP; only brokered loans.

      The cost of the loan is the origination fee (all lender fees) plus third party costs. A complete list is in both of my books. There are also property taxes, home owner/hazard insurance, and local taxes.

      If you have an estimate with no origination, no lender fees, no broker fees, no YSP, then I’d like to see it. Please email it to me. My first name @ mortgage-helper dot com.

  3. My husband and I applied for a loan after we had an accepted offer way back in the first week of February. We met with the loan officer, who gave us estimated numbers verbally and assured us we would receive them in writing. We did get a large packet electronically back in mid-Feb, but it didn’t contain an actual GFE. It wasn’t until today, when we were told our origination fee is going to be higher than estimated, that I even knew about a GFE or that we were supposed to receive one. What can I do? We’re supposedly within a week or two of closing and they’re trying to raise that charge. Do I have any recourse, since we weren’t provided an official GFE? I’m feeling very taken advantage of…

    1. Yes, Amy, you hold all the power here. Don’t let them bully you.

      If you don’t mind my saying so, this is exactly the reason why I wrote Mortgage Rip-Offs and Money Savers and after that, Homebuyers Beware. Anyone who reads either of those books will never find themselves in a position where they are in the process of a loan where they have not already approved the GFE.

      It is required by federal banking law (called RESPA which stands for Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act) to provide the written GFE within 3 business days of receiving the loan app. That is violation #1.

      It is against federal banking law (RESPA) to raise the origination fee (even by $1) between the original quote (GFE) and the final Settlement. That is violation #2.

      You must own your power and not be bullied. Tell the loan officer that you want to speak with the manager/president/CEO of the company immediately, and that you are going to tell him or her that unless they honor the original verbal quote, you will (1) switch to another lender, (2) report them to HUD (US Dept that regulates mortgage lenders and has the power to fine them and shut them down), (3) report them to your state Attorney General, (4) report them to the U.S. Comptroller, and (5) let your local TV stations know about this unethical lender.

      That should get their attention! If they do not comply, then act and do all of those things. YES, you can still switch lenders.

      They are counting on you feeling stuck and powerless. You are not. Send me an email through my website on the Ask a Quick Question page if you need me to refer you to a truly honest, ethical, awesome lender who will close your loan fast.

      Please write back and let me know what happens. And one more thing: do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Homebuyers Beware or Mortgage Rip-Offs and Money Savers.

  4. Thank you so much! I was looking through my documents again and I found “Truth In Lending” documents. Are those the same as a GFE? Will the GFE actually have the words “Good Faith Estimate” printed on it? If so, I for sure don’t have one.

  5. Hi, I desire to subscribe for this webpage to get latest updates, thus where can
    i do it please help out.

    1. Hi Tilly, at the top right, you’ll see a box that says, “Follow by email.” That is where you subscribe.

      Thank you and best wishes.

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