What is a Loan Estimate?

graphic of a one-family house that speaks to the need for a home mortgage
Home is where the heart is.

What is a Loan Estimate?

Recently, a client asked me the following question:

“It has been years since I took out a mortgage. I notice that instead of the old Good Faith Estimate, I am getting a Loan Estimate. What is a Loan Estimate? Are they the same thing?”

When It’s Out of Your Comfort Zone, Seek Help

I am comfortable and qualified to questions concerning life, disability, home, flood, renters, auto, co-op, and condominium insurance. I don’t possess the same knowledge levels about mortgages. So, I reached out to three of the top home mortgage lenders I know for their insights about the new Loan Estimate form.

Somehow, I know this will cost me big time down the road.

My Panel of Experts Answer The Question of “What Is A Loan Estimate?”

 

Ennell Esperance, a Senior Home Lending Advisor (NMLS ID: 68006) with the Home Lending Division of JPMorgan Chase Bank, provided me with some recent history about this topic.

In 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a government agency that regulates consumer financial instruments such as mortgages, retired the Good Faith Estimate form (in part) and created the Loan Estimate form.

On the Good Faith Estimate form,  lenders used their own language to describe the loans. Multiple estimates could seem very different. Consumers were confused by that document.

How Does The Loan Estimate Work?

 

The new Loan Estimate consolidates four forms into two: the Loan Estimate and the Closing Disclosure.

The new Loan Estimate is a three-page form that you receive within three business days after you apply. It is not a loan approval or rejection. It simply gives you loan terms, projected payments, and closing costs for review.

Standardized Wording in The Loan Estimate


Leon T. Gelzer, Sr., (NMLS ID: 41256), is a Santander Bank Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) officer and Community Mortgage Development Loan Officer. He described how the Loan Estimate standardizes the wording that lenders can use. You’ll see which costs are fixed and which are not, allowing you to shop lenders.

Leon went on to say it also prevents surprise fees by establishing tolerance levels. If you do take the loan and the fee amount estimated is more than the amount paid, the lender makes up the difference.

I would imagine every mortgage lender does their best to avoid this reality.

How Loan Estimate Costs Are Broken Down

Peter Chace, a Mortgage Loan Officer (NMLS ID: 206181), with TD Bank directed me to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s website to view samples of the Loan Costs and Closing Disclosure forms (Click Here to go to the CFPB website) and highlighted how costs are also broken down in the following categories:

  • Loan Costs (origination charges, services you can’t shop for and services you can shop for) and Other Costs (taxes, government recording fees, pre-paid fees, and initial escrow payments, for example).

  • Closing Disclosure
    The Closing Disclosure is a five-page form that buyers receive before closing. It has the final terms and costs associated with the mortgage and specifies the amount of money you need on-hand at closing. Buyers can easily compare the Loan Estimate to the Closing Disclosure. Buyers will have three (3) days to review the form and ask questions.

I want to thank these gentlemen for being so generous in sharing their time with me, and ultimately, you.

Let’s Thank Our Experts

Here is the contact information you’ll need to reach of our experts who contributed:

Ennell Esperance can be reached by telephone at
718-810-7680, and by email at ennell.esperance@chase.com;
Leon T. Gelzer, Sr.’s office number is 718-302-5418. Leon’s email address is leon.gelzer@santander.us.
Peter Chace can be reached by telephone at 917-715-2818. Peter’s email address is Peter.chace@td.com.

You can also find a copy of the full Loan Estimator, with completed samples in English and Spanish at https://www.consumerfinance.gov/policy-compliance/guidance/mortgage-resources/tila-respa-integrated-disclosures/forms-samples/

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is an NYS-licensed Independent Insurance Agent and Broker with over 38 years of experience. Eustace is ready to assist you with your life, disability, home, flood, renters, auto, cooperative and condominium, and wedding insurance needs, and can be reached at 718-783-2722, or by email at eustace@insuremeeg.com. You can also contact him by going to https://greavesinsurance.com and completing any of the available “Contact Us” forms.

If you’d like to subscribe to his monthly newsletter, “Health, Safety, and Good News You Can Use,” just to his website, https://greavesinsurance.com, and click on any of the “Subscribe” buttons.

Have insurance, income tax, real estate, mortgage, or home inspection questions for Eustace? He’ll be happy to provide the insurance and income tax answers and will continue to call on his expert contacts for help in the other areas. Just send him an email to eustace@insuremeeg.com with the subject line, “Ask Eustace.”

Let’s Set The Record Straight About – Customizing Your Insurance

Today’s clever insurance commercials are a necessary evil. They provide more information about bundling and saving, and less about the coverages you, your family, and your business really need.

We can change that by simply asking the right questions.

Customizing Your Insurance

There is no insurance company that owns a monopoly on helping you customize your insurance.

None.

Commercials, Commercials, Commercials

Commercials are designed to increase brand awareness using gimmicks including celebrity spokespersons, animals, car crashes and chases, and well, anything they think you will remember when it is time to buy insurance.

Does Every Company Allow You To Customize Your Insurance?

You can customize your home, life, auto, renters, co-op, condo, disability, long term care, personal umbrella, and yes, even your flood insurance with any company licensed to do business in the State of New York as well as every other state in the Union.

Every company gives you the ability to customize your insurance.

Every single one.

Problem is, most consumers aren’t served by most of the television commercials aired today.

They are simply goaded into a perpetual state of dissatisfaction with their current carrier, even when their current carrier is doing a good job for them.

It’s What Consumers Don’t Know About Their Insurance Which Hurts Them

Each year, I make at least 25 insurance-based presentations for HUD-approved housing agencies and organizations such as Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City, Harlem Churches for Community Improvement, and Impacct. I always ask those in attendance to tell me what their automobile insurance coverages are. Inevitably, 14 out of 15 give the same answer, “Full Coverage.”

Not 25/50/10.

Not 250/500/100.

Full coverage.

And when I ask them how much their policies cover in the event of an accident, they usually reply that they’re not really sure, but they did save money by bundling their home and auto.

Yay,

Buying What You Need Is A Two-Edged Sword

As long as the policy or policies quoted for you meet your state’s required minimum coverages limits, buying the cheapest policy or bundle possible is actually all you need.

What if though, you just struck and killed a pedestrian, or lost control of your vehicle and totaled a house. Will your policy provide you with the actual amount of money you will need when the jury hands down some obscenely massive award against you?

Imagine coming home to find;

  • Your home on fire.
  • Two (2) feet of toxic sewage water sloshing about your finished basement.
  • Burglars paid you an expensive visit while you are at work or the market.
  • Your good dog had a bad day.
  • There are three feet of floodwater in your home and you don’t own a flood insurance policy.

What Questions Should I Ask?

  • What, if any hoops must I jump through in case of a claim?
  • Are policy coverages or exceptions more important to know?
  • Why do I have duties after a loss?
  • In the event of a covered cause of loss, how easily will my claim be settled?
  • Is your claim service fair?


What Should My Insurance Company and/or Independent Agent and Broker teach Me?

  • Why buying home insurance based on your home’s replacement cost is essential.
  • How to determine your condominium and cooperative apartment “walls in” insurance coverage based on what a licensed contractor would charge to completely repair fire or water damaged walls, ceilings, and floors.
  • The importance for renters to complete a personal home inventory, down to the last sweat sock.
  • How owning Life and Disability insurance will prevent financial disaster should death or disability destroy the earning power of a family breadwinner.
  • Reasons why every property policy should include Water and Sewer Backup coverage. And why every cooperative and condominium apartment owner should add the Loss Assessment endorsement to their coverage.
  • Why buying flood insurance, even when their home is not in a high-risk flood zone, is a smart financial move.

And, of course, what coverages do I actually need to protect my family and home from most disasters?

The other day a woman asked me for my honest opinion of who I felt was the best insurance company out there.

My answer?

The one with whom you secured the proper policies, with sufficient coverages, which is in force at the time of your claim.

A company that won’t make you jump through hoops to settle a  claim fairly. An independent insurance agent and broker willing and able to service your policies. With premiums accurately reflecting the coverages your policies provide.

Nothing else matters.

As for the commercials, well, give my regards to Broadway.

At least until we can enjoy live theater again. Until then, stay healthy and safe.

 

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is an independent insurance agent and broker, licensed to conduct business in New York State. Contact Eustace at 718-783-2722, 718-489-2218, by email at eustace@insuremeeg.com or by completing the contact form on this page, or  one of the many contact forms on his website, https://greavesinsurance.com.

 

 

Hurricane Season Preparation

There is no substitute for Hurricane Season preparation

With the 2019 hurricane season underway, we would like to remind you of the importance of preparing for potentially destructive storms. Here are some things you can do today, before a storm approaches, to help keep you and your family safe throughout the hurricane season.

How do Hurricane Watches and Warnings differ?

Understand the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning. A hurricane watch means that a hurricane may occur within the next 24 to 36 hours. A hurricane warning means that a hurricane will probably strike your area within the next 24 hours.

Prepare a storm survival kit.

  • A complete list of essential supplies is available on Ready.Gov.
    Certain preparations must also be made for disabled persons, senior citizens, and pets.
  • Taking any medications? Ask your pharmacist and physician for an increased prescription package so you will always have an additional 30 days of medication available in waterproof containers.
  • Make complete front and back copies of drivers licenses, identification cards, and all credit and affinity cards. Other important documents such as mortgages, deeds, birth and death certificates should be copied and the originals should stay in a safe deposit or a water and fireproof security chest.
  • Plan your evacuation route in advance of the storm.
    Arrange for a family or friend who lives far away from the danger zone to act as a central communications hub so family members who may be split up can call and confirm where they are and their condition.

Create Your Family Communication Plan

  • Establish a safe location for family members to reconnect.
    Make sure you have at least one credit card with the full credit limit available to you should you need to rent hotel or motel accommodations until you are able to return home.
    Secure storm shutters and board up all windows.
    •Stock up on drinking water and non-perishable goods.
    •Have a supply of batteries and be sure you have flashlights and a hand-chargeable portable radio in good working condition.
    •Keep your cars gas tank at least 3/4 full just in case you are forced to leave your home or town immediately.
  • Purchase a five-gallon gasoline or diesel fuel container (Yes, they are different. The gasoline containers are usually red in color, while the diesel containers are yellow.), and fill them at the first mention of a Hurricane Warning or Hurricane Watch to prevent the possibility of your running out of fuel.

Don’t Forget Your Flood Insurance

The typical home, dwelling fire,renters, co-op or condo insurance policies do not cover losses caused by a flood. And unless you’re buying your coverage for a closing, you will have to wait 30 days for your coverage to become effective, so purchase your flood insurance coverage today.

Please remember, we are here to help. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

Check your local weather

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is a New York State licensed independent agent and broker. parYou can reach him through email at eustace@insuremeeg.com, or by phone at 718-489-2218.

New York City’s Three Rivers

This, unfortuately is when any business and property owners and renters learn they have absolutely no coverage for the foot or two of water which found it’s way into their living spaces.

What, you think Pittsburgh is the only town with three rivers? Trust me, New York City’s three rivers can beat that!

I couldn’t think of a better way to introduce my BrooklynCovered.com series on Flood Insurance, than using the actual example of what happened during and after a water main break on the night of July 31, 2015.

It proved what Rich Slevin of H2O partners, America’s  leading Flood Insurance education providers loves to say:

“If it can rain there, it can flood there.”

The series will answer questions about, but not limited to:

  • What is a flood?
  • What is a FIRM (and no, it’s not a new fitness gym)?
  • What does a flood insurance policy cover?
  • Why doesn’t my homeowners insurance policy cover flood?
  • What’s an Elevation Certificate?
  • What does Remapping have to do with me?
  • What’s this mandate I keep hearing about?
  • What are the requirements I must meet to buy a Preferred Risk Policy?

and other aspects of this little-understood, but oh so necessary coverage.

Our story begins on the evening of July 31, 2015. It was a peaceful, warm and pleasant summer’s night, when suddenly, all hell broke loose.  A twelve-inch (12″) water main burst at the intersection of Flatbush and St. Marks Place at or around 8 pm, shutting down train, bus and car traffic beneath, on, and through the Flatbush Avenue corridor from Grand Army Plaza, all the way down to just before the Barclay’s Center complex.

While the MTA, National Grid, and Consolidated Edison worried how this would affect their subways, gas and electrical services, businesses along Flatbush Avenue, and homeowners and renters on Saint Marks, Prospect Place, and even Bergen and Dean Streets  were even more concerned about how much, if any, water would wind up in their basements and garden level apartment spaces.

This,  unfortunately is when any business and property owners and renters learn they have absolutely no coverage for the foot or two of water which found its way into their living spaces.

So before we begin the Flood Insurance series in earnest, take a minute to watch a brief video of what lies beneath a typical new york city street.

What lies beneath. Sounds like a monster movie.


While I will do my best to work through the intricacies of flood insurance first, I will be touching on other subjects in the coming months. I plan to have Tax Tuesdays, Flood Insurance Fridays, and other insurance and defensive driving posts the rest of the week.

Stay dry,

Eustace

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., is a New York State licensed insurance broker, qualifying income tax preparer, and defensive driving instructor. He is based in the Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn, with most of his clients residing in the Downstate New York Region. You can reach him at his office by telephone, 718-78–2722, or by email, Eustace@insuremeeg.com .

 

Wind vs. Water: Like Floods, A Debate Rages|Brooklyn Covered

You are literally better off having the 80-foot tree in your front yard fall into and cause part of the front wall of your home to collapse. Then, as the rainwater pours into and further destroys your home, you can rest easy in the knowledge it is a covered loss. Why? Because the covered cause of loss (the falling tree), preceded the additional loss from an outside source of water. If, however, a flood surged through your neighborhood and ripped the front wall away from your home first, you wouldn’t be covered, unless you owned a flood insurance policy with adequate coverage.

 

Wind vs. Water Equals Hurricanes vs. Floods

 

By my estimation, at least 50% of the losses faced by those who lost property in Hurricane Irene’s aftermath are not insured. Why? The losses they faced are directly attributable to flooding, not the hurricane-force winds. And many people in the Northeast don’t own a flood insurance policy.

Former Hurricane and Tropical Storm Lee will bring similar financial pain to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and other Southern states. For insurance purposes, the damage suffered by most will be considered  caused by water, not wind, and thus not insurable.

The wind vs. water rages on.

 

What’s The Difference?

 

Most people will ask, “What’s the difference?” or “I have a homeowners policy and I suffered a loss to my home, so this should also be covered.” Unfortunately, damage by flood is not covered by your typical homeowners insurance policy.

Many communities in New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and New Jersey are monitoring the rivers, streams and levees with trepidation. Many home and property owners will face the double whammy of losing everything, and not having the means to rebuild.

Insurance Policies Make Good Reading. Seriously.

Most people don’t really read their homeowner or auto insurance policies until they suffer a loss, whether the loss is insured or not. Take a moment, find your homeowners policy, and give it a good read. While most people feel they know what’s covered under their policy, they really don’t.

You are literally better off having the 80-foot tree in your front yard fall into and cause part of the front wall of your home to collapse. Then, as the rainwater pours into and further destroys your home, you can rest easy in the knowledge it is a covered loss. Why? Because the covered cause of loss (the falling tree), preceded the additional loss from an outside source of  water. If, however, a flood surged through your neighborhood and ripped the front wall away from your home first, you wouldn’t be covered, unless you owned a flood insurance policy with adequate coverage.

Your homeowners policy specifically excludes coverage when damage to your home results from a source of water from outside your home.  This is why every homeowner should own a flood insurance policy, with limits equal to at least 80% of the homes Replacement Cost Value. (I’ll be discussing just what Replacement Cost Value is in a future post.) Renters, and co-op and condominium owners whose units are below the third floor in an apartment building should also own a flood policy, as well as those who rent or own townhouses.

So, before the next hurricane comes a-calling, this is a great time to purchase flood insurance equal to at least 80% of your homes Replacement Cost Value. Also, arrange an annual homeowners insurance policy annual review with  your insurance representative to guarantee you own, at minimum, 100% of the Replacement Cost Value of your home in your Homeowners Insurance policy.