Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lenders must use a new Good Faith Estimate (GFE) Form starting January 1, 2010

I got a sneak preview this week at the new "Good Faith Estimate" that lenders will now be required to provide to consumers who are shopping for a mortgage loan. Starting January 1, the US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will require lenders to use this new standard form.

What is a Good Faith Estimate? A "GFE" is an itemization of all of the costs associated with obtaining a mortgage loan. It breaks out different costs, like loan origination, appraisal fees, estimated taxes, and prominently displays the estimated interest rate, length of the loan, etc. It also shows the "fully loaded" estimated monthly payment (fully loaded = total monthly payment amount of loan principle, interest, taxes and insurance). You can get GFE from multiple lenders and compare them side-by-side.

The current GFE is one page and resembles a spreadsheet...if you have never looked at one, they can be a little cryptic to decipher. I often help my buyer clients understand what they are looking at as they shop for a loan.

Most of this new 3-page GFE document is written in plain english, and really describes what the items are, which is really nice. There are specific sections with checkboxes that are not noted on the current GFE - like for example if the loan has a "pre-payment penalty" or a "balloon payment." I think it will be very difficult for dishonest lenders to fudge different fees and terms on the new form.

The one short-coming I think the new GFE has (that I am sure will be addressed by HUD with a revision or Addendum soon) is that no where does it explain or show the "fully loaded" payment. It only shows the principle and interest monthly payment amount (and does not factor in the full payment with the monthly allocation of property taxes and insurance)...which is only part of the true picture.

Overall I give HUD a thumbs up with regard to this new GFE...but PLEASE - HUD make that revision so the full PITI payment is clearly defined on the form!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do they post the effective interest rate under assumptions that the loan is only kept for 3/5/7 yrs?

It's always been a pet peeve of mine that when they quote interest rates taking into account initial fees they assume that the loan continues to term - that just isn't reality.