Shopping for a mortgage can be a very confusing process, especially if you're a first-time home buyer. It is very important that you shop around and compare offers from different lenders. Don't just take one offer from one lender. By doing this you can choose the best offer and one that best serves your individual needs.
One way to compare different offers from various lenders is the Good Faith Estimate (GFE). A GFE breaks down the total estimated costs associated with buying a home. When comparing these offers, be sure to not only look at the interest rate offered, but also the estimated monthly payment. There are loan programs available that may have a higher rate of interest, but have a lower overall monthly payment.
Closing costs are actually broken down into two categories: Estimated Closing Costs and Estimated Reserves/ Prepaid Costs.
Estimated Closing Costs show the specific lender and closing fees, where the Estimated Reserves/ Prepaid Costs reflect prepaid interest and funds set up for your escrow accounts so your yearly property taxes and home owner's insurance are paid.
When comparing the GFE's, it is important to compare line by line and to look at the total estimated costs. Be aware of any gross differences between costs and question those differences with your loan originator or loan officer. Things can be underestimated at time of application, which could result in an inaccurate GFE.
Remember, a GFE is only an estimate. There are many variables that are unknown at time of application, so understand that things can change when you find the home you want to purchase.