A New Beginning for Real Estate Closings
Currently, under federal law, within three business days after receiving an application, mortgage lenders must deliver two different disclosures to the applicants: an early Truth in Lending Statement and a Good Faith Estimate. At closing, two more disclosures are required: a final Truth in Lending Statement and a HUD-1 settlement statement. Starting Aug. 1, 2015, that long-established process will change. The forms will be reduced to two and simplified so that consumers will be able to mortgage shop more easily and understand their mortgage terms and costs more thoroughly.
The mortgage crisis that began in 2008 was precipitated by many consumers taking on loans they could not afford. Though the industry has rebounded from the crisis, the dire situation highlighted the need for consumers to better understand the true costs and risks of a mortgage. Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) received the power to create new rules for the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and for most of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), which are the laws that require the existing disclosure forms. After two years of research and testing, the CFPB decided that the simplified, so-called “Know Before You Owe” mortgage forms are the best way to educate consumers.
Beginning in August 2015, consumers will be provided with The Loan Estimate form within three days after submitting a loan application. It replaces the first Truth in Lending statement (long-considered ironically named for the confusion and lack of clarity it gave to consumers) and the Good Faith Estimate. Consumers can use this form to compare costs and features of various loan options. Three business days before the loan closing, consumers will receive a Closing Disclosure. This replaces the final Truth in Lending statement and HUD-1 settlement statement. For the first time, consumers can review the final loan terms and costs before they take a seat at the loan closing table.
This upcoming change is just a part of CFPB’s initiative to reform the mortgage markets. Hopefully, consumers will not be the only ones to benefit from the future modifications. Lenders and real estate attorneys should be optimistic about the potential to cut down on administrative costs and lessen the “surprises” that can ruin a closing. Those in the mortgage industry should review the forms carefully and take necessary implementation steps in the year ahead.