Loan Quote Guarantees

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Because most loan providers will not guarantee their Federal Good Faith Estimates or California MLDS forms, I've been telling folks that the best suggestion (other than doing their loans myself, of course!) that I can give them is apply for a back up loan. But some mortgage loan providers will guarantee their quotes, and this article is about those guarantees, their limitations, and what to watch out for.

Loan officers are not the only ones who play games with the truth in the mortgage world. Borrowers do it. A lot of borrowers do it. Some are actually intending fraud, some just want a better loan and don't see anything wrong with painting their financial picture a little rosier than it is. Furthermore, there are reasons that lenders will decline loans that are not obvious. It has happened to me that I couldn't do a loan at all because of fairly obscure points that the borrowers weren't trying to conceal, they just didn't know they were important, and I didn't think to ask because of their rarity.

Keeping this in mind, loan providers are leery of offering guarantees, and indeed, since only an underwriter you will never meet or talk to can authorize the loan, for a loan provider to make a guarantee that there will be a loan is nonsense. The most they can say is, "Based upon my experience, I see no reason why this would not be approved," or, better, "Subject to underwriter approval, your terms will be this." That's a key phrase. Keep in mind that loan provider guarantees are few and far between, and as a result, there is no standard terminology to use. I, as a loan officer, cannot promise the loan. I can promise, however, that if the loan is approved as submitted, it will be on a given set of terms.

Now it happens that loan officers can manipulate you by submitting a loan that they know will not be approved. This is a lot of work and often "poisons the well" at that particular lender, but then they can tell you sorry, you do not qualify for that loan, but there's another one over here that you do qualify for, and now that you've already selected them to do your loan, they are no longer competing on price, and they build a much higher margin into the newly proposed loan, secure in the knowledge that you're unlikely to be shopping other lenders at this point.

You can counter that by asking what the guidelines are for the loan they are submitting. What is the maximum debt to income ratio? How much income do you need to qualify? Ask them to compute it out for you, and watch what numbers they use. What loan to value ratio is the rate predicated upon? What does the property need to appraise for in order to make that happen? (This can also help you spot hidden fees, albeit rarely. Comparatively few loan officers can tell you how much it's really going to take to get the loan done.) How much time in the same line of work are required? Here's a whole list of questions you should ask prospective loan providers (the most important mortgage article I have written).

Now, as to the form the guarantee should take: It should include the type of loan, to include an industry standard name for that loan type, so other loan officers you shop with know right away what they are talking about. It should also include the cost to get that loan. How many points of origination, if any, and how many discount points, if any? How much in total closing costs? How long of a lock is included?

You should beware the term, "thirty year loan," unless the words "fixed rate" are in there. A thirty year fixed rate loan is the standard loan that most folks aspire to, but it's usually the highest rate out there. The words "Thirty year loan" can also describe an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM), or a hybrid ARM. A few loan officers will even describe hybrid ARMs as "thirty year fixed rate mortgages," because they are fixed for an initial period. So ask them "how long is that fixed rate fixed for?" here is one example of one way to disclose it right. So you always want to ask, "How long is it fixed for?" if they do not volunteer the explicit information.

If it's a balloon loan, that means you must refinance or pay it off before the end of the loan. Must in this case means it is mandatory, it is required, there is no more loan after that point. If it's an ARM or hybrid ARM, you also want the margin once it does start adjusting and the name of the underlying index to become part of the guarantee. You don't have to refinance hybrid ARMs, and you're welcome to keep them as long as you like what they adjust to, but most people refinance before the end of the fixed period or very shortly thereafter.

Finally, you most especially want whether or not there is a pre-payment penalty to be part of your guarantee, and if yes, the nature of that penalty. A loan with a prepayment penalty should be a much cheaper loan than one without, as you are looking at agreeing to pay about $12,000 around here if you refinance or sell while it's in effect. The phrase, "What would that be without the prepayment penalty?: is one of my favorites. But you have a right to know, and a loan with a prepayment penalty is likely not as good a loan as one a quarter to a half percent higher for the same cost, without a prepayment penalty. If you already know you're going to need to sell before it expires, it needs to be more than that. So make sure you find out, is there a prepayment penalty, yes or no? If Yes, how long is it for? Is it a hard penalty (incurred even if you actually sell the property) or a soft one (waived if you actually sell), and does it strike from the first extra dollar or only after you pay down more than twenty percent in a year? These all make a difference, and you should be aware of their nature, and it should be honestly disclosed to you when you are shopping for a loan.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on January 24, 2009 7:00 AM.

Fifteen Year Loans: Are They A Good Idea? was the previous entry in this blog.

Be Careful Moving Your Down Payment Money is the next entry in this blog.

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