What to look for at Loan Closing
I've said upon more than one occasion that the factors at closing are all in the loan provider's favor. Unless they signed up for multiple loans, the typical consumer has no leverage to get the loan provider to play it straight at closing, and actually deliver what they said they would back when you signed the application. Many people never notice that their lender has taken advantage of them until they get the first payment notice, which is far too late to do anything about it. Furthermore, others never notice at all, and of the ones who do notice something is wrong in a timely fashion, eight to nine out of ten are so fed up with the loan process that they sign the documents anyway. I keep hearing sworn oaths from people who signed up with my competitors that they won't sign the documents at closing if they're not what they were promised, yet when I follow up the vast majority of them did. I can only conclude that these people actually enjoy being lead on like the rats by Pied Piper of Hamlin.
Assuming that you are not one of those people who enjoys being treated like a disposable rat by someone who's making a goodly sum of money from your business, what can you do? The first thing is apply for a back up loan. As I say elsewhere, if you've got a back up loan lined up, you've got leverage. Your options are not limited to sign these documents or don't. You can sign the other provider's set of documents, and the person who lied makes zero. Or you can use the existence of an alternative to get both companies, if need be, to give you the loan you were promised in the first place.
But how can you tell if you've been treated right by the loan officer? There are dozens of pieces of paper that get pushed in front of you at signing. Disclosures for this and disclosures for that. Truth in lending statements. Yet more disclosures. Certificates good for a discount here and a discount there. This is partially legal requirement, partially intentional on the part of loan providers. There really is a legal requirement for most of these disclosure documents, but the loan provider likes that they are there because they all distract your attention from where it needs to be focused.
There are three documents at the heart of every loan closing. They are the Trust Deed, Note, and Department of Housing and Urban Development form 1 (HUD 1). I advise reading everything, especially any title transferring documents, so the lender cannot easily throw a curve in amongst the auxiliary documents. But most don't bother trying. The three main documents are where you should be focusing your attention.
Sometimes, the Note is included in the Trust Deed, but most of the time they are stand-alone documents. The Trust Deed gets recorded with the county, while the Note usually does not. Some states that I haven't worked in may use other systems (A Mortgage Note, for instance, which needs an actual court action in order to foreclose, and which California along with most other states have gotten away from because it is more costly).
The Deed of Trust is simple enough. Look over the Deed of Trust enough to see that it properly references and does not contradict the Note.
The Note requires more attention, and cross referencing between it and the HUD-1. Is the amount borrowed consistent with what you were lead to believe? Is the rate correct? Is it fixed for the correct amount of time? Is there a prepayment penalty, and if so, for how long? Check out the repayment terms, and make certain there are the payments are what you were lead to believe. The Note is what you are agreeing to by signing all of this paperwork. Make certain it reads the way it is supposed to. Take your time, read it over, do not allow yourself to be rushed. Do not think to yourself, "I've got three days to call it off" because once you are done signing the odds are long that you will not think about your loan further until your first payment becomes due, and that is too late. Read it now. If there is anything that you do not understand, ask for a clarification. Good clarifications start from a point of the wording that's on the paper, and make easy sense in English. Do not accept a clarification that you do not understand. Do not sign hoping to get a better clarification later. Do not sign period if you aren't certain you understand.
Check out the HUD-1. I'm working on a separate post to cover all of the issues there, but make certain the costs are what you were led to believe, and that it all adds up correctly. The numbers should start with the Old Loan (if Refinance) or purchase price, plus costs, plus reserves if you're doing an impound account, plus prepaid interest, minus any money you're bringing in (down payment, etcetera) or the seller or your broker is crediting you, and that should be the balance of the new loan. Take your time with the HUD-1 and the Note, and do not allow yourself to be rushed. Do not sign until you are certain that you understand and agree. If this takes a little longer than the signing agent planned for, tough. Many loan providers are adept at distracting you with this disclosure or that disclosure. Some companies actually provide them with training in how to distract you, and how to gloss over thousands of dollars that you didn't agree to. Stick to your guns. The Note is what you are agreeing to, the Trust Deed is there to enforce it, and the HUD-1 is the only form accounting for your money that is actually required to be accurate. The Note, Deed of Trust and HUD 1 are what the lender is going to force you to comply with in a court of law. Make certain that they are what you agreed to before you sign them. If they're not, well that's why you applied for a back up loan, right?
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