Loan Documents - Contracts of Adhesion

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Got a search for "mortgage closing documents do not sign changes."

Unfortunately for this person, the documents you get at closing are what legal folks call a contract of adhesion. This means you can either accept it, sign, and adhere to all the terms as presented, or you can walk away. Basically your choice is to take it or leave it, in exactly the form presented.

Now on those rare occasions someone actually has the intelligence and good sense to walk away from a situation where the terms have been changed, the prospective loan provider does have the option of offering you a better deal as incentive to do business with them. Like, say, the loan they originally talked about to get you to sign up with them. Mind you, they don't have to, and the costs of that other loan may mean that they would rather do no loan than that loan.

Now I'm not a lawyer, but the way contracts of adhesion were explained to me is that if there is any legal ambiguity, it will be interpreted in your favor. This doesn't mean you can claim you thought it meant something different than the average person would understand; this means that if there is a legally ambiguous wording that could legitimately be interpreted two different ways, and you and your lender disagree as to the meaning, the courts will generally rule in your favor. Once again, the law is different from place to place and the courts have the final say; check with your lawyer.

Now in the loan world, it is much more common than not to be offered a loan contract at final signing which differs in some material form from the loan terms that were described to you in the beginning. The loan provider will generally offer you a loan of the same type, and usually at the same rate, but most often the costs to get that rate will be significantly higher than were listed on the Mortgage Loan Disclosure Statement (Equivalent to the Good Faith Estimate for the other 49 states). Neither one of these forms is in any way, shape or form a legal commitment, nor are any of the other forms you get at the beginning of the loan process, such as the Truth In Lending Advisory.

The only thing that means anything is the loan contract, or Note, that you are offered at the end of the process, together with the HUD-1 form, which is the only accounting of the loan required to be correct and complete.

Now the difference between the initial teaser loan they talked about and loan contract they actually got approved is one of the reasons why the less than ethical providers out there often want a cash deposit for the loan, particularly if their rates are not particularly competitive and they know it. If they're nervous someone will come along behind them and offer you a better deal, they want a cash deposit so that they still get something if you pull out, and many folks obsess about the cash deposit to the point where I could offer them a deal that saves them several times the cash deposit, and they still wouldn't switch. This isn't to say not to pay the twenty dollars or whatever it costs them for the credit report, this is to say don't deposit the appraisal fee (several hundred dollars, which should be paid at point of service) or even part of a point "to be refunded if the loan funds" within a certain amount of time. Chances are the loan isn't that great, particularly not the real loan they are really going to offer, and that's why they want to lock you in by having something to hold over you if you don't sign on the dotted line at the end of the process.

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on January 25, 2008 7:00 AM.

Hot Bargain Property January 24th, 2008 was the previous entry in this blog.

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