When properly done, preapproval can speed up the purchase process by providing a rigorous assessment of the maximum amount a buyer can afford to borrow, based on a formal credit check and verification of income and assets.
But prevetting has become more difficult and confusing these days, for borrowers as well as lenders, as a result of lending rules that took effect in January.
The rules from the Department of Housing and Urban Development require lenders to issue a binding good-faith estimate of total closing costs within three days of submission of a formal loan application. The formal application is usually made when a preapproval is written.
Lenders are barred, before issuing this binding estimate, from requesting tax returns, bank statements and the like from a borrower. (In addition to the loan amount, the applicant is asked to provide only a Social Security number, gross monthly income, the value and often the address of the property.)
Many lenders are reluctant to be locked into closing costs amid declining property values, and therefore fewer of them, especially the big banks, are providing preapproval letters
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