Refinance Loan Estimate Guide
With every mortgage refinance, the borrower receives a Loan Estimate. We explain the key parts of the estimate in this explanatory guide so you know exactly what you are getting and how much you’ll pay.
Loan Estimate: Page 1
1. Check spelling of your name
Ask the lender to correct any inaccurate contact information. Even minor misspellings can cause big problems later.
2. Check loan term, purpose, product, and loan type
Make sure the information matches what you discussed with your lender.
3. Is your rate locked?
Some lenders may lock your rate as part of issuing the Loan Estimate, but some may not.
4. Check that the loan amount is what you are expecting
If you are purchasing a new home, check to see that the loan amount plus your down payment equals the sale price of the home. If it doesn’t, ask the lender why.
5. Is your interest rate fixed or adjustable?
If the right-hand column says “YES,” your interest rate is adjustable and can change after closing. Make sure your Loan Estimate shows the type of interest rate you were expecting.
If you have an adjustable rate, your Loan Estimate form will have additional information in the Projected Payments table on page 1 and in two additional tables at the bottom of page 2. See a sample Loan Estimate for an adjustable-rate loan
Learn more about the difference between fixed and adjustable rates
6. Does your loan have a prepayment penalty?
This feature is risky. If your loan includes a prepayment penalty, learn more and ask your lender about your other options.
7. Does your loan have a balloon payment?
This feature is risky. If your loan includes a balloon payment, ask your lender about your other options.
8. Does your Estimated Total Monthly Payment match your expectations?
Are you comfortable spending this much on housing each month?
9. Do you have items in Estimated Taxes, Insurance & Assessments that are not escrowed?
If so, you will have to pay these costs directly, often in large lump sum payments. Are you comfortable spending this additional amount on housing? Do you know how often you will need to make payments for these costs?
10. Do you have enough cash on hand to pay your Estimated Cash to Close?
This is the amount you will have to pay at closing, in addition to any money you have already paid. This payment is usually made by cashier’s check or wire transfer. You will need to provide your lender with proof of the source of these funds.
Loan Estimate: Page 2
11. Compare the Origination Charges to Loan Estimates from other lenders
The best way to tell if you have a competitive loan offer is to compare it to Loan Estimates from other lenders. Origination charges are upfront fees charged by your lender, and are an important part of the cost of your loan. When comparing Loan Estimates, make sure to compare the origination charges.
Depending on the lender, origination charges may be more or less itemized. Common origination charges include application fees, origination fees, underwriting fees, processing fees, verification fees, and rate-lock fees. It’s the total that matters.
12. Does your loan include points?
If there is an amount listed on this line, it means that you are paying points to the lender to reduce your interest rate. Did you discuss this choice with the lender? A similar loan may also be available without points, if you prefer. Ask the lender what other options may be available to you, and how the other options would impact your interest rate and the total cost of your loan.
13. Compare the Services You Cannot Shop For to Loan Estimates from other lenders
The services and service providers in this section are required and chosen by the lender. Because you can’t shop separately for lower prices from other providers, compare the overall cost of the items in this section to the Loan Estimates from other lenders.
Some fees in this section may depend on the kind of loan you have chosen. For example, if you have an FHA, VA, or USDA loan, the upfront mortgage insurance premium or funding fee will appear in this section. These fees are usually set by the government program and not the lender. If you have a conventional loan with private mortgage insurance (PMI), any upfront mortgage insurance premium would typically be listed in this section. PMI premiums are set by the private mortgage insurance company, which is usually chosen by your lender.
14. Review the Services You Can Shop For and shop for these services
The services in this section are required by the lender, but you can save money by shopping for these services separately.
Along with the Loan Estimate, the lender should provide you with a list of approved providers for each of these services. You can choose one of the providers on the list. You can also look for other providers, but check with your lender about any provider not on the list.
15. Is the homeowner’s insurance premium accurate?
The homeowner’s insurance premium is set by the homeowner’s insurance company, not by the lender. You get to choose your homeowner’s insurance company. Comparison shop to find the insurance policy you want and to learn if the amount the lender estimated is accurate for your specific situation. Usually you’ll pay the first 6 to 12 months of homeowner’s insurance premiums at or before closing. Homeowner’s insurance is also sometimes referred to as “hazard insurance.”
16. Are your property taxes accurate?
Property taxes are set by your local or state government, not by the lender. To avoid surprises later, check now to find out whether the lender has estimated these costs accurately. Contact your local tax authority or ask your real estate agent for more information about property taxes in your area.
17. Does your loan include lender credits?
If there is an amount listed on this line, it means that the lender is giving you a rebate to offset your closing costs. You may be paying a higher interest rate in exchange for this rebate. Did you discuss this choice with the lender? A similar loan may be available with a lower interest rate and without lender credits, if you prefer. Ask the lender what other options may be available to you, and how the other options would impact your interest rate and the total cost of your loan.
18. Is the Estimated Cash to Close what you were expecting?
Your Estimated Cash to Close is the estimated amount of money you will have to bring to closing. This section shows how the Estimated Cash to Close was calculated. Your Estimated Cash to Close includes your down payment and closing costs, minus any deposit you have already paid to the seller, any amount the seller has agreed to pay toward your closing costs (seller credits), and other adjustments.
If the Estimated Cash to Close isn’t what you were expecting, ask the lender to explain why. You will typically need a cashier’s check or wire transfer for this amount at closing. The lender you choose will also need to document the source of the funds you bring to closing. Ask the lender about what documents you will need.
Loan Estimate: Page 3
19. Is the information about the loan officer what you were expecting?
Is the loan officer that you are working with listed here? If not, ask questions.
Most loan officers are required to be licensed or registered with the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System & Registry (NMLS). You can look up the loan officer by name or NMLS ID number in the NMLS database. In most cases, it will tell you whether the loan officer is authorized to operate in your state and whether there are any disciplinary actions on their record.
20. use the Comparison section to compare Loan Estimates
This section offers several useful calculations to compare the cost of this loan offer with other offers from different lenders. Because loan costs vary both across lenders and across different kinds of loans, it’s important to request Loan Estimates for the same kind of loan from different lenders.
Learn more about how to compare Loan Estimates from different lenders
21. How much will it cost if you make a late payment?
It’s important to make your mortgage payments on time and in full, every month, to avoid fees and improve your credit record. However, it’s good to know in advance how much the fee will be if your payment is late.