The Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB) has released a new toolkit that guides consumers through the process of shopping for a mortgage and buying a home. The toolkit was developed as a part of the CFPB’s “Know Before You Owe” mortgage initiative and helps consumers take full advantage of the new Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure forms that lenders are required to begin providing in August.
“This toolkit is a great resource for consumers navigating the home-buying process, and will help consumers make well-informed decisions about the biggest financial transaction of their life,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray.
The toolkit provides a step-by-step guide to help consumers understand the nature and costs of real estate settlement services, define what affordable means to them, and find their best mortgage. The toolkit features interactive worksheets and checklists, conversation starters for discussions between consumers and lenders, and research tips to help consumers seek out and find important information.
The toolkit is designed to replace an existing booklet that creditors currently must provide to mortgage applicants, which was initially developed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The updated toolkit is designed to be used in connection with the new Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure forms that will be effective on August 1, 2015. Creditors must provide the toolkit to mortgage applicants as a part of the application process, and other industry participants, including real estate professionals, are encouraged to provide it to potential homebuyers.
“The new mortgage disclosure forms coming in August will help consumers comparison shop for mortgages and avoid surprises at the closing table,” Cordray said. “We are releasing this toolkit well in advance of the effective date to help the mortgage industry come into compliance with the new rules.”
The CFPB is also providing an electronic version complete with fillable text fields and interactive check boxes so the consumer can save and print their progress as they work through the toolkit. The electronic version meets federal accessibility standards to ensure that all consumers, including those with disabilities, can use the resource. The CFPB encourages lenders to keep this level of accessibility when delivering the PDF to consumers. A Spanish language version will also be made available later in 2015.