What Fees Can You Recover If Your Loan Is Denied?

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"What mortgage fees can i recover after loan denial" was a search I got. The answer is basically, "None."

Indeed, one of your search criteria should be mortgage providers that don't charge anything up front, except maybe a credit check fee. Those are about $20, and you should be prepared to spend that $20 several times over while you're shopping lenders. If you're worried about twenty dollars when you are applying for a mortgage, chances are that you shouldn't apply.

Now many lenders want you to make a deposit that varies from a few hundred dollars to one or even two percent of the loan amount. Deposits are charged by lenders who want to get you committed to the loan, and they do it for at least two reasons. The first is psychological commitment. Usually when I mention things like that, I get people who immediately come back with, "Those kind of mind games don't work with me!" I'm not looking for an argument, and with most folks, I don't know their past history well enough to come up with an example, but this phenomenon is essentially universal as far as humans go, and those few not subject to it are probably suffering from some other more debilitating psychological problem. In fact, the normal progression of a loan is a series of commitments upon your part. The decision to talk to potential providers. The application.

After the application, lenders want the originals of your documentation and money. The original documents are requested so that you cannot shop or apply for a loan elsewhere. I, as a loan officer, do not need your original documents for anything I can think of at the moment. I need the original of the loan application and a couple other items you fill out with me, but not of your pay stubs, your taxes, your insurance bill, or any other documents you have pre-existing. Copies are just fine for any lender I do business with, so long as they are clean and readable.

The next step is to get money out of you. If all they want is the credit report fee of about $20, that's fine and normal. Credit Reports cost money, and if you're just shopping around, a loan provider has two choices: raise their loan prices slightly so that they charge those people who finalize their loans more, or charge folks whatever the cost is to run credit when they apply.

But many loan providers want more than the credit check fee. A lot more. They want a deposit that varies from several hundred dollars to one percent of the loan amount, even two percent in some cases. They might say it's for the appraisal, and usually at least part of it does go to the appraiser. Nonetheless, you should not give it to them. I've had my clients tell me about the tales they've been told, about how that money is to pay the appraiser. The appraisal should be paid for when the appraiser does the work. As I've said before, you want to be the one who orders the appraisal, and therefore controls it. I've had clients tell me about loan providers who only use "in house" appraisers. Well, those "in house" appraisers are drawing a salary and requiring "in house" appraisers is usually indicative of lenders who aren't competitive on price.

The reason they really want larger amounts of money out of you upfront is two-fold. First, it builds that psychological commitment I talked about a while back. Second, it makes you financially committed to a loan, which tremendously raises the level of psychological commitment. It means they've got some of your cash. Most people don't really understand loans, not deep down where it really matters. Consider, for a moment, which you would rather have: $400 cash, or a loan that costs $5000 less (not so incidentally making a difference of $25 on the monthly payment), but is otherwise identical. Dispassionately sitting there on the monitor in front of you, the choice seems obvious. You're going to have to pay that $5000 back sometime, and in the meantime you're paying interest on it. But move it to a situation where these potential clients have already put down a $400 deposit with an overpriced loan provider, and the vast majority of them won't sign up for my loan, even though I'm willing to guarantee my loan quote and the other company isn't willing to guarantee theirs. Why? Because they're thinking of that $400 in cash that came out of their checking account, not the $5000 in extra balance on their mortgage. Companies want that deposit to stop you from going elsewhere, to a loan provider that can do the loan (or, more importantly, is willing to do the loan) for much less money. Practically speaking, they're not only guaranteeing themselves a certain amount of money, they are guaranteeing that the client won't change their mind about their loan.

So do you get it back if the loan is denied? Nope. At least I've never been told about an instance where it happened. That money was a good faith deposit. Legally, it was an incentive for that loan provider to do the work of that loan, all of which costs money. Provably costs money, I might add. The loan processor doesn't work for free. The underwriter doesn't work for free. The escrow officer doesn't work for free. The appraiser doesn't, the title company doesn't. Nobody works for free. Phone calls and copies and word processors to generate all of your documents from the title commitment to the loan documents. Some documents are the same for every loan and can be computer generated. Others, like the title commitment, require humans to enter literally everything on them.

Now, a deposit isn't necessary. In fact, you can find loan providers out there (I'm one of them) who routinely work the whole loan on speculation of it funding. They might ask you to pay for the credit report up front, but everything else is paid for as the work is done. You write the check to the appraiser when they do the work. You might ask the advantages to the consumer of this. That advantage is that these loan providers are not holding your money hostage. This means that if the loan falls apart because the loan provider told you they could do the loan and they couldn't, they're out the money, not you. This means that if you find a more competitive loan, there's no reason why you can't apply for that one instead. This means if your back up loan is ready to go and this one isn't, all you've spent is the $20 for a credit check. You're not out hundreds to thousands of dollars that were in the deposit.

So if a loan provider asks for a large cash deposit up front to begin the loan, chances are that you shouldn't give it to them. Particularly if they won't guarantee their loan quote, chances are they are trying to lock you into their loan by holding your money hostage, and when you discover at closing that they tacked thousands of dollars onto the loan charges that they conveniently "forgot" to tell you about or pretended didn't exist ("Escrow's a third party charge. We don't have to tell them about it until afterwards"), and now you are facing a choice between forfeiting your deposit and signing off on a loan that's not what you agreed to when you gave them that deposit. Better not to face that choice, by not agreeing to pay anything beyond the credit fee up front.

Caveat Emptor

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on February 4, 2008 7:00 AM.

Issues Relating to One Spouse Qualifying For A Loan On Their Own was the previous entry in this blog.

Hot Bargain Property February 4, 2008 is the next entry in this blog.

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