by Broderick Perkins
As a result, many consumers often aren't aware how much they can save, according to Harris Interactive research.
Two years after federal regulatory overhaul injected greater transparency in the mortgage market with new, easier-to-understand mortgage cost disclosure materials, most consumers don't make the effort to reap the benefits.
The "Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)", effective January 1, 2010, mandated a new and improved "Good Faith Estimate (GFE)" to make it easier to understand and comparison shop for mortgage estiments.
Harris Interactive found that while 91 percent of mortgage shoppers were aware rates vary among lenders, 40 percent of mortgage shoppers obtained a single mortgage quote before signing on the dotted line.
The GFE clearly states that consumers should "compare this GFE with other loan offers, so you can find the best loan." It also contains a shopping chart and worksheets to encourage you to shop around and compare several mortgage loans and the settlement costs of each.
Home loan originators must give you the mandated GFE within three days of accepting your application.
The three-page GFE, provided by the mortgage broker or lender, shows the loan terms and the settlement charges you will pay if you decide to go forward with a given mortgage. It explains which charges can change before settlement and which charges must remain the same.
Along with the GFE, you'll also receive a GFE guidebook, "Shopping For Your Home Loan: HUD's Settlement Costs Booklet," and the "Settlement Statement HUD-1."
Comparison shopping for mortgages
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