If you are working anywhere near the real estate industry, by now you have heard about the importance the regulations known as TRID, which are effective for residential mortgage applications submitted on or after October 3, 2015. There are many questions about these new regulations and in this article we will try to answer these from a consumer and real estate practitioner point of view.
What is TRID?
TRID is the result of the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s “Know Before You Owe” initiative in which the agency is trying to make the home buying process easier to understand for consumers as well as making important documents available before the actual closing takes place. TRID is an acronym which stands for the TILA and RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule. Yes, the government has actually come up with an acronym to replace two acronyms. Thus, first we must explain TILA and RESPA.
TILA stands for the Truth-in-Lending Act. This law regulates all consumer lending, not just real estate finance. For example, if a consumer obtains a credit card, there will be a TIL disclosure issued for the purpose of giving the consumer the “true cost” of borrowing by factoring in borrowing fees into an overall number called the “Annual Percentage Rate” or APR. What is unique about mortgages is that an initial TIL Disclosure is required for mortgages within three business days after submitting an application and a final TIL Disclosure is required at closing. In contrast, you might obtain a credit card the same day you apply for it.
RESPA stands for the Real Estate Settlement Procedure Act. This law specifically focuses upon the regulation of residential real estate transactions. There are many aspects of RESPA, but here we will focus on another required disclosure, the “Good Faith Estimate” of Closing Cost, which also must be issued within three business days of application. RESPA also requires the issuance of a HUD-1, the final closing statement, which some years ago was aligned so that the numbers were synchronized with the initial Good Faith Estimate.
How does TRID change all of this?
The government’s goal is to make the process simpler by integrating the two disclosures into one—both upfront and at closing. Thus, there is a new disclosure required three days from application which is called a Loan Estimate. This new disclosure replaces both the Good Faith Estimate and the Truth-in-Lending Disclosures. At closing, the HUD-1 and final TILA are replaced by the Closing Disclosure.
Though these rules are designed to make the process simpler, in reality the requirements for timing, re-disclosure if changes occur before closing, and making the forms “multi-purpose,” can actually be quite complex. Even the definition of what constitutes a “business” day can be confusing.
What about the timing requirements?
Though there is no change with regard to the timing requirements after application, there are two important timing changes that take place under TRID.
- The Closing Disclosure must be provided to the consumer three business days before closing. This means that transaction’s numbers must be finalized well before the settlement date.
- The Loan Estimate must be issued seven business days before closing. Depending upon weekends and Holidays, this means that most closings must occur at least two weeks after application. In addition, if allowable changes occur, the Loan Estimate must be reissued within three business days and received by the consumer four days prior to loan closing.
What does this mean for homebuyers?
While it makes perfect sense that homebuyers should have access to their closing costs, payments and other final details well before closing, home purchases can often be fluid situations. For example, if someone is purchasing a new home, what if an option is added late in the process which would change the sales price and perhaps the final mortgage amount? Or perhaps a home inspection calls for significant repairs to the property which changes the purchase price.
Above all, this means that everyone involved in the transaction must work together in order to make sure all details are set earlier in the process. All actors must do their part:
- The applicant must get all required documents to their mortgage company promptly and make sure they are complete, legible and accurate.
- The real estate agent(s) must make sure that all contract issues are resolved very early in the process. Any changes must be communicated promptly as well.
- The title company must provide required information to the mortgage company so that the final numbers can be calculated on a timely basis.
- The mortgage company must process and underwrite the file within a time frame which will allow the final disclosures to be issued on a timely basis.
What is the consumer’s most effective tool to assure a smooth and timely closing?
The best way a consumer can ensure that the process is smooth and closes on a timely basis is to make sure that they obtain a fully underwritten pre-approval before an offer is submitted on a home. A pre-approval enables the lender’s underwriters to analyze a consumer’s documentation and issue a pre-approval subject to an acceptable sales contract, appraisal of the property and locking in a loan program. Basically, there is a must shorter timeline from contract acceptance to closing when a pre-approval is issued.
In addition, obtaining a pre-approval puts a consumer in prime negotiating position with a seller who may be entertaining multiple offers. This pre-approval basically signals to the seller that the prospect is a serious buyer.
Many times one consumer will be attempting to effect two real estate transactions in one day – selling a home and then purchasing a home. The vast majority of the time, the owner must sell the home first because they need the cash from closing to purchase the second home and typically can’t qualify with both payments. Under TRID, this more complex situation is likely going to be more difficult to coordinate because of the disclosure timing requirements. In these cases it may behoove both the buyer and seller to obtain their mortgage from the same lender so that coordination is more seamless in this regard.
Under TRID, the world of real estate transactions is changing. The purchase of a home is the most important investment for most Americans and certainly a most important lifestyle decision. It is imperative that a potential homebuyer work with a mortgage company armed with the technology and experienced staff to effectively and efficiently comply with the timing requirements of TRID, ensuring a smooth and on-time settlement.