DEFINITION of 'Good Faith Estimate'

An estimate of the fees due at closing for a mortgage loan that must be provided by a lender to a borrower within three days of the lender taking a borrower's loan application. A good faith estimate is required by the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). While the form of the estimate is standardized across the industry to allow borrowers to compare costs between lenders, it is key to note that it is only an estimate, and the true figure can sometimes be different.

BREAKING DOWN 'Good Faith Estimate'

Consumers should beware of unscrupulous lenders who add their own "junk" fees and/or charge excessive fees for items such as wire transfers. However, there are legitimate reasons for discrepancies between the good faith estimate and the actual cost. For example, the lender may not know all the costs of closing services provided by third parties.

A thorough comparison of mortgages between lenders by a consumer will include a comparison of items such as loan origination fees and loan discounts, which are generally a tradeoff for a higher or lower interest rate.

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