Your guide to navigating the Good Faith Estimate - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Real Estate

Your guide to navigating the Good Faith Estimate

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Sunday, August 24, 2014 11:26 am

How much is this new loan going to cost me?

That’s a question most people naturally ask when they borrow money to buy a house or refinance their existing mortgage.

An approximation of the final figure can be found on the Good Faith Estimate, or GFE, a three-page government-mandated form mortgage brokers and lenders are required to give prospective borrowers within three days of a loan application.

Download a copy of the GFE in PDF format. Here’s a section-by-section dissection of the form.

Purpose and shopping for your loan

The top two sections on Page 1 explain why the form is important. First, it’s a summary of the loan terms and estimated settlement charges, and second, it can be used to shop and compare the terms and charges offered by lenders or mortgage brokers. It’s that simple.

Important dates

This section discloses when the GFE expires and whether the interest rate is locked or floating.

“If the interest rate is floating, the terms of the GFE may only be available for a short period of time. If your interest rate is locked, you still must close your loan on or before that date for that interest rate to be effective.

Summary of your loan

This section discloses the initial loan amount, interest rate, monthly payment and loan term or length of the loan.

The payment includes principal, interest and mortgage insurance, if any, but not property taxes or homeowners insurance.

The series of yes-or-no checkboxes spells out whether the rate can rise, whether the loan balance or payment can increase, and whether the loan has a prepayment penalty or balloon payment. If any of the Yes boxes are checked, further details should be disclosed. It’s very cut and dried, so there are no surprises.

Escrow account information

This section discloses whether the lender will collect a portion of the annual property taxes and homeowners insurance premium each month in addition to the loan payment. If so, those amounts will be held in an escrow (or impound) account and used to pay those expenses when they’re due.

Summary of your settlement charges

The “A,” “B” and “A+B” lines at the bottom of Page 1 show the totals of costs that are explained in detail on Page 2. “A” is the total of the lender’s loan origination charges. “B” is the total of fees for other settlement service. The key word here is “estimated.” The costs could change before the loan closes.

Understanding your estimated settlement charges

The first two parts of this section disclose more information about the loan origination charges and interest rate. If the first box in Part 2 is checked, Part 1 includes all the origination charges. If the second box is checked, the loan features a credit that reduces the charges and raises the rate. If the third box is checked, the loan includes points, which increase the charges and reduce the interest rate.

Parts 3 through 11 summarize the other closing costs, including lender-required services (an appraisal, for example), lender’s title insurance, owner’s title insurance, recording fees, transfer taxes, escrow account deposit (if any), prepaid interest and homeowner’s insurance. Some of these charges can’t change, others can increase no more than 10 percent, and still others are unrestricted, allowing the borrower to select companies he or she prefers.

Certain fees are held to a zero percent tolerance. If it increases by a penny, we have to cover that as a lender. If it’s a client-chosen fee that ends up being higher, the lender is not responsible for curing or covering that amount.

The chart at the top of Page 3 explains, in another format, which charges have zero tolerance, which have 10 percent tolerance and which can change to an unlimited amount.

The trade-off table

The table at the top of Page 3 helps borrowers weigh whether to pay higher closing costs to obtain a lower interest rate or pay lower costs and accept a higher rate. The choice is essentially one of paying higher closing costs now or paying more interest later.

The shopping chart

The second table on Page 3 allows borrowers to compare the terms and total estimated settlement charges of four loans side-by-side. The chart includes only the highlights, not all the details of each loan.

• Aaron Ely is a senior mortgage banker from Ahwatukee. Reach him at (480) 636-6207 or

More about

More about

  • Discuss

Desert Vista Thunder Football Preview 2014

The Thunder look to return to their winning ways behind a talented junior class and a group of...

School highlight: Ambassador Academy

Daniel Ochoa/AFN
Dr. Elba Iris Reyes, principal at Ambassador Academy, poses with her students at Ambassador Academy Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014.

For the past five years, Ambassador Academy in Ahwatukee has been offering its students a small-classroom setting.

Each class has no more than 15 students, which Dr. Elba Iris Reyes, Ambassador Academy’s principal, said is what sets it apart from other charter schools.

The school’s current enrollment stands at 47 students from kindergarten through fifth grade.

“We have academic excellence in teaching and learning, we have high expectations for our teachers and their practices, and we have high expectations for our students,” Reyes said. “We also focus on leadership and character development.”

Ambassador Academy’s Parent Teacher Organization is devising fundraising opportunities to raise money for the school’s playground facility.

For additional information about Ambassador Academy, visit

• Compiled by Daniel Ochoa.

Related Stories

Facebook on Facebook

Twitter on Twitter


Subscribe to via RSS

RSS Feeds


Print Edition Online

Online poll