Before signing your closing documents and walking away with the keys to your new home, it’s important to reexamine the final details of the mortgage. Your lender is required to provide this information ahead of closing in the form of a mortgage closing disclosure.
Paperwork fatigue aside, the closing disclosure deserves careful review, as it outlines the mortgage terms and conditions you’re agreeing to.
What Is a Closing Disclosure?
You may have weighed the different mortgage types and then homed in on one that suited you best.
Maybe you got mortgage pre-approval before zeroing in on a property you couldn’t live without (for a while, at least). Now the deal is almost buttoned up.
Here comes the closing disclosure, a five-page form from your lender outlining the mortgage terms, including the loan principal, interest rate, and estimated monthly payment. It also lays out how much money is owed for closing costs and the down payment.
Lenders are required by federal law to provide the mortgage closing disclosure at least three business days ahead of the closing date.
First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.
Recommended: Understanding Mortgage Basics
Why the Closing Disclosure Is Important
The mortgage closing disclosure contains all the final terms of your home loan, like how much you pay each month and over the life of the loan. Other conditions, such as your ability to refinance or pay off the loan early, are detailed here, too.
These specifics can have a significant impact on your personal finances. Just one percentage point difference in the interest rate can cost you thousands in the long run.
When you receive the closing disclosure from your lender, this is a final chance to review the fine print and compare everything with the loan estimate, the three-page document with the loan amount, interest rate, and other key information provided by your lender after you applied for a mortgage.
You may have obtained multiple loan estimates when shopping for a mortgage, but you’ll only get a closing disclosure from the lender you chose to finance with.
Recommended: 18 Mortgage Questions for Your Lender
What’s in the Closing Disclosure?
Visual learners, rejoice: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau maintains a sample closing disclosure with an accompanying checklist and tips on how to read a closing disclosure.
Here’s a breakdown of the components in the closing disclosure.
The terms include the loan amount, interest rate, and the monthly principal and interest you’ll pay. This section notes if the loan has a prepayment penalty for paying off the mortgage early (a rarity these days) or a balloon payment, a one-time fee due at the end of the loan (ditto).
The closing disclosure will note with a “yes” or “no” whether the amount for any of these items can increase after closing.
This section shows the factors used for the payment calculation, including the principal and interest, any mortgage insurance, and estimated escrow to pay property taxes, homeowners insurance, and any flood insurance. These add up to estimated total monthly payment for the mortgage.
If you don’t use an escrow account, the bottom of this section will show the monthly costs for property taxes, homeowners insurance, and homeowners association dues, if applicable.
Checking these numbers against the original loan estimate from your lender is good practice.
Costs at Closing
Top of mind for many borrowers is the amount of cash needed to close. Usually, you can expect closing costs to be 2 to 5% of the home purchase price.
This section identifies the “cash to close,” which represents the closing costs plus the down payment owed by the borrower.
Flipping to Page 2, this section provides a summary of expenses associated with taking out the loan. The costs consist of the origination fee, application fee, underwriting fee, and mortgage points if you’ve chosen to purchase any.
Additional costs are categorized under “services borrower did not shop for” and “services borrower did shop for.” The former includes services arranged by the lender, like the appraisal fee, while the latter refers to services the borrower had a choice in procuring, such as the title search and pest inspection fee.
There are other costs that may be due at signing, such as taxes and government fees, prepaids, escrow payments, and HOA fees.
Ensure that each amount is accurate and correctly entered as either borrow-paid or seller-paid.
Calculating Cash to Close
The table in this section shows a side-by-side comparison between the loan estimate and final dollar amount needed to close.
The calculation will account for any deposits paid by the borrower and seller credits negotiated as part of the deal.
Summaries of Transactions
This section provides a detailed look at what the borrower and seller are paying at closing. Costs prepaid by the seller, such as property taxes and HOA fees, may be adjusted to show what portion is owed by the borrower.
Your mortgage comes with conditions, which are outlined on Page 4 of the closing disclosure. You’ll see which apply based on the box that’s checked for each.
On the final page, there are loan calculations showing the total amount you’ll pay over the life of the loan, as well as the finance charge, amount financed, annual percentage rate, and total interest percentage.
If you’re just looking into home loans, a mortgage calculator can estimate your monthly payments and total interest paid over the loan term.
The lender must disclose other characteristics of the mortgage, if applicable. They include the appraisal, contract details, liability after foreclosure, ability to refinance, and tax deductions.
Refer to this section if you need to contact the lender, brokers, or settlement agent involved with your mortgage.
Signing the mortgage closing disclosure indicates that you received the form, not that you agree to the terms and accept the loan.
What Is the Three-Day Waiting Period?
As of 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s “Know Before You Owe” mortgage rule requires lenders to provide the mortgage closing disclosure at least three business days before closing.
This aims to give borrowers plenty of time to review the final loan terms, ask their lender any clarifying questions, and prevent unexpected costs at closing.
There are a few scenarios that could change the closing disclosure timeline. Your lender must provide another closing disclosure, thus granting three more days, if one of the following issues occurs:
• A change in the loan APR (one-eighth of a percentage point or more for a fixed-rate loan or one-quarter of a percentage point for an adjustable-rate mortgage)
• Addition of a prepayment penalty
• A change in the loan product
How to Check Your Closing Disclosure
All five pages of the closing disclosure contain key information for the borrower to review. It may be helpful to go line by line with your loan estimate in hand to compare the final terms against what the lender previously provided.
Here are a few important items to pay attention to:
• Review your name and the property information
• Check that the loan description and amount match the loan estimate
• Make sure that the interest rate is unchanged if you locked it
• Ensure you understand all the fees and any changes to them
What Can and Can’t Change on the Closing Disclosure
There are some costs that can’t be changed on the closing disclosure, while others may increase by a certain percentage or by any amount.
Unless there’s a change in circumstances on the loan, changes can’t be made to the following:
• Transfer taxes
• Fees paid to the lender for a required service
• Fees paid for a required service that the borrower wasn’t allowed to shop separately for
Recording fees and costs for required services from a lender’s written list of providers may not increase by more than 10%.
There are other costs that can change by any amount at any time, including:
• Prepaid interest, property insurance premiums, or initial escrow deposits
• Fees for required services by the lender that the borrower shopped separately for
• Fees for optional third-party services
• Note that your interest rate can fluctuate if it’s not locked or due to changes on your mortgage application.
What to Do if There’s an Error on the Closing Disclosure
It’s important to notify your lender or settlement agent of any errors on the closing disclosure.
Redoing the closing disclosure could delay the closing and affect your interest rate if your mortgage rate lock expires.
The mortgage closing disclosure gives a detailed overview of your loan terms and closing costs. If you’re uncertain of any information, reach out to your lender to go over the closing disclosure.
For information about the home buying process, check out SoFi’s mortgage help center.
If you’re looking for a home mortgage loan, consider getting a mortgage with SoFi. Rates are competitive, and mortgage loan officers are available to help you along the way.
Does a closing disclosure mean I’m approved?
The loan is approved before you receive the closing disclosure, but a significant change to your credit, income, or debt before closing could affect your approval.
Can you waive the three-day closing disclosure?
You can waive the three-day closing disclosure in the case of a personal financial emergency, such as losing the home if the mortgage doesn’t close in time.
How long after the closing disclosure do you close?
You can close three business days at the earliest after receiving the closing disclosure. Errors on the closing disclosure could delay the process.
Can you be denied after the closing disclosure?
Yes. A dramatic change in your personal finances could cause a lender to reject your mortgage. It’s a good idea to try to avoid changing jobs or taking on new debt near the end zone.
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