Know Before You Owe: Making the mortgage process easier for youBy Patricia McClung Since opening our doors over four years ago we’ve heard from homebuyers that the process of buying a home is overwhelming and confusing. We’ve heard that closing is often rushed, not allowing enough time to review before signing on the dotted line. For consumers who apply for most mortgages on or after October 3, 2015, the stress of shopping for a mortgage will be reduced, as our new mortgage disclosure rule takes effect. The new rule and disclosures ease the process of taking out a mortgage, helping you save money, and ensuring you know before you owe.Here’s what will change: Four overlapping disclosure forms will be streamlined into two forms, the Loan Estimate and the Closing Disclosure.You’ll have more time to review your closing documents. Currently, lenders must give you your HUD-1 Settlement Statement disclosure 24 hours in advance, if you request it; after October 3, you’ll receive your Closing Disclosure three business days before you sign the forms and accept the terms of your mortgage, no request needed.Here’s how these changes will improve the mortgage process: The new forms will make it easier to understand complicated mortgage terms. The Loan Estimate makes it easier to shop around and compare loan offers from multiple lenders. Consider applying for loans from at least three lenders before choosing a mortgage so you can find the best deal for you.The three days required between getting your Closing Disclosure and signing on the dotted line allow you to make sure there aren’t major changes from the deal you were offered on your Loan Estimate. It also gives you time to ask your lender all the questions you might have about the terms of your mortgage and consult with a lawyer or housing counselor.More resources to help make mortgages understandableWe’ve released “Your Home Loan Toolkit.” The toolkit has worksheets and conversation starters to help you at key points in the mortgage process. You’ll receive the toolkit when you apply for a home purchase mortgage. However, you can also download it now. In addition, while these forms make the process of taking out a mortgage easier, we have also created digital resources to help you use and understand your Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure. These tools give you definitions of terms like “balloon payments” and “points.” They also show you where to look, page-by-page, to check that terms and numbers on both documents match up.For a better understanding of what it takes to get a mortgage, we’ve updated our “Owning a Home” site with an overview of the mortgage process. This step-by-step guide to getting a mortgage takes you from creating a budget to filing away your important closing documents after you accept the terms and sign on the dotted line. “Owning a Home” also has tools and resources to help you learn more about your loan options, make decisions, and prepare for closing. Housing counselors approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are another great resource. They can offer independent advice about whether a particular set of mortgage loan terms is a good fit based on your objectives and circumstances, often at little or no cost to you. To find a housing counselor near you, use our search tool. The new forms workOver the past four years, we’ve done extensive work, including testing the new forms with consumers around the country and getting feedback from industry. In our testing, we determined that these new forms helped people better understand the terms and types of mortgages in the market. From our very first day as an agency, we’ve been working hard to improve your experience when it comes to purchasing and paying for your home. We’ve been working to make the market safer by educating mortgage consumers, challenging practices that are illegal under federal consumer protection law, and by enacting new mortgage lending rules. In addition, we’ve worked to get responses to your mortgage complaints, and we’re exploring ways to further improve the closing experience.You have the right to compare offers and understand the terms before you sign on the dotted line. And the information you use should be clear and easy to understand. After four years of work, these new forms and tools will help you shop for the best deal and avoid costly surprises when you sign on the dotted line. The mortgage process is easier when you know before you owe.