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Author: TyroFool100 Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 127801  
Subject: Re: Why Borrowers Cannot Avoid Junk Fees Date: 12/19/2001 10:01 AM
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I was reading this thread and found an interesting article on Seattle Times this past Sunday Dec 17th. I am not trying to start a flame here but just more info on Junk Fees which I thought may be helpful and get some insights from guru's like Catherine or from Dave Donhoff.
I did some research after reading this as we are in the process of buying a home. IMHO, it is best to trust the Mortgage broker and dont nickel and dime on the costs that are paltry when you are looking to invest on a dwelling.
Here is the link
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/PrintStory.pl?document_id=134379037&zsection_id=268448385&slug=homeharn16&date=20011216
WASHINGTON — If you refinanced a mortgage or bought a new home recently, were you mystified — or angered — by the number and costs of the fees you were charged?

Were there some charges on the settlement sheet that you had never heard of before, never understood, never challenged and simply let pass because you wanted to get the deal closed?

Did you feel nibbled to death by items such as: processing fee ($350), underwriting fee ($300), application fee ($250), settlement fee ($250), closing fee ($350), doc prep fee ($300) admin fee ($250), legal fee ($250), endorsements fee ($95), escrow fee ($350), origination fee (1 percent to 2 percent of the loan amount), courier fees, discount fees, tax-service fees and flood certification, to say nothing of the heavy title-insurance expenses you were asked to pony up?

Welcome to the hottest consumer subject in this year of the Great Refi Boom: junk fees and their legality. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has begun studying them intensively nationwide, with the help of a beefed-up enforcement budget. State financial regulators and attorneys general are looking for abuses as well.

And so should you. Consider just three facts:

• Lenders themselves admit that some of these fees are fictions — nothing more than creative devices to keep quoted interest rates low while still making money. That's so you can think your 6-7/8 percent rate was enough of a rock-bottom bargain to brag about to your neighbors.

• Federal law prohibits lenders or others from charging "unearned" fees for nonexistent goods or services. It also prohibits markups of settlement expenses when no additional services are rendered. The law carries heavy financial penalties and potential jail time, so the games many lenders play with fees can be dangerous, indeed.

• The "Good Faith Estimates" (GFEs) of closing fees that all home-loan applicants are supposed to receive from lenders are legally toothless. When unscrupulous lenders want to pull you in with a low rate, they lowball on their GFE disclosures — frequently by hundreds or thousands of dollars. They know that while federal law requires them to give you the estimates within three business days of application, no federal agency has the enforcement authority to come after them if their estimates turn out to be far off the mark. They also know that most buyers or refinancers won't walk from the settlement table, even if they're miffed about unexpected fees.

Here's one example of how the closing-cost shell game gets played. A homeowner applied in late November for a refinancing in Sacramento. The loan amount she needed was modest — $61,000, secured by property valued at $110,000. She applied online to the Web-based affiliate of a national mortgage company, and quickly got back a set of settlement estimates for her 15-year, fixed-rate refi at 6-7/8 percent. She was stunned to discover that the long list of fees totaled $3,082 — more than 5 percent of the entire mortgage amount.

Included in the expenses were $375 for processing, $350 for appraisal, $315 for escrow, $450 for settlement, a separate $200 for closing/settlement, $475.50 for origination, plus $708.20 in sundry title-related charges. To get a professional evaluation of these fees, I asked two consumer-oriented lending experts — one the president of a mortgage bank in San Diego, the other a mortgage broker in Maryland — for their thoughts.

"Garbage," was the one-word assessment of Jim Riley, president of San Diego's City Line Mortgage Corp. "They can call stuff whatever they want," he said, "but it's still just income" — a way of making more money than it appears from the rate. Riley said appraisers probably wouldn't charge more than $200 to $250 to value the property, so someone was probably pocketing an extra $100 to $150 on the deal. The presence of two "settlement" or "closing" charge items in one transaction was another tip-off of a rip-off.

Paul E. Skeens of Carteret Mortgage Corp., a Fort Washington, Md., broker, had another take. He pointed out that in addition to high fees, the loan quote appeared to be half a percentage point higher than the prevailing market rate for 15-year fixed-rate loans on that day.

"So they might have been sticking it to (the applicant) two ways" — fluffed-up fees and a padded rate.

Skeens, who strongly defends his industry's right "to earn a reasonable profit and pay overhead expenses like any other business," nonetheless thinks many lenders have gotten greedy — and careless.

"You can make up names and invent fees," he says, but when lenders intentionally lowball estimates, "that's going to get you into trouble."
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