New Loan Estimates and Closing Disclosures

If it has been years since you took out a mortgage, you may notice that instead of a Good Faith Estimate, you are getting a Loan Estimate. You may wonder if these are the same things?
In 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a government agency that regulates consumer financial instruments such as mortgages, retired the Good Faith Estimate form (in part) and created the Loan Estimate form.
The Good Faith Estimate form was designed to reveal the terms and fees of a mortgage. However, since the lenders used their own language to describe the loans, multiple estimates could seem very different. Consumers were confused by that document.
The new Loan Estimate consolidates four forms into two: The Loan Estimate and the Closing Disclosure.
The new Loan Estimate is a three-page form that you receive within three business days after you apply. It is not a loan approval or rejection. It simply gives you loan terms, projected payments and closing costs for review.
Since the Loan Estimate standardizes the wording that lenders can use, you’ll see which costs are fixed and which are not, allowing you to shop lenders.
It also prevents surprise fees by establishing tolerance levels. If you do take the loan and the fee amount estimated is more than the amount paid, the lender makes up the difference.
You’ll notice that costs are also broken down into these categories: Loan Costs (origination charges, services you can’t shop for and services you can shop for) and Other Costs (taxes, government recording fees, pre-paid fees and initial escrow payments, for example).
The Closing Disclosure is a five-page form that buyers receive before closing. It has the final terms and costs associated with the mortgage and specifies the amount of money you need on-hand at closing. Buyers can easily compare the Loan Estimate to the Closing Disclosure. Buyers have three days to review and ask questions.