It is amazing how quickly lenders are finding ways to avoid the new RESPA (Real estate Settlement Procedure Act) and avoiding this consumer protection act.  Kenneth Harney wrote an interesting article in The Washington Post, January 16, 2010 title “Mortgage lenders can sidestep new rules to prevent lowball estimates”.

Let’s take a look at what the purpose of RESPA is: It is to make sure that the consumer (borrower) knows what is involved in borrowing and also the cost of borrowing or obtaining a mortgage for their home. Also the purpose of it is to empower the borrower to shop around for less expensive services. Keep in mind that borrowing funds is like renting, meaning you are renting the funds to purchase a home and when you rent you shop around so why not shop around when you borrow.

HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) has created a lot of print material to empower the borrowers and assist them with the loan process and make sure that they know their rights, their duties and what to expect. Among their publications is the "Shopping for Your Loan booklet". Here is a link to HUD’s RESPA home page.

But let’s go back to the article that I mentioned above, in the article lenders defend why they can not give borrowers a GFE (Good Faith Estimate) and why they have to use worksheets instead. I wonder, do the lenders know what they are doing? They are running a business and selling services, if they do not know what the cost is or how their products work, should they be in this business? Some of the most common explanations a Judge gets from a homeowner in foreclosure is: I did not know about this balloon payment, I did not know this was an adjustable rate loan, I did not know this loan was interest only for the first two years and so on. In other words lender did not make sure that the borrowers knew what kind of a loan they were getting and I wonder, do these lenders still want to keep it this way, despite all the foreclosures and Short Sales?

When Mr. Harney asked HUD’s spokesman about their position on the worksheet, the response was: [I]“that although the rules are silent on the subject, worksheets can be a useful tool when the consumer doesn't want to give enough information for a formal application”. And he went on to say: [I]“if worksheets become commonplace and threaten to water down the consumer protections on settlement fees provided by the GFE reforms, her agency will need to take a thorough look at the situation and possibly issue "updated guidelines."” Reading between the lines of what the HUD spokesman said: Borrower you need to educate yourself about your rights and what is involved in the loan process and to the Lender if you do not get it right this time we will force you to do it right.

The bottom line is: Borrowers, Realtors, Loan Officers, Title Companies need to learn the new RESPA rules and regulations and start to practice them as a normal part of your business.

Contact Erna and Petur Sigurdsson, Realtors at The Viking Team, Realty at 321-263-5096 for help buying or selling a home in Longwood, Lake Mary, Altamonte Springs, Sanford, Seminole and Orange County and the surrounding areas of Central Florida. To Search For Homes For Sale in Central Florida Click Here.