Mortgage changes aimed at benefiting consumers

New rules from the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau taking effect this month will change the way people close on housing loans.

The bureau’s changes took effect at the end of last week and combines the  Truth in Lending Act and Real Estate Settlement Procedure Act  to form the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosures.

Industry experts have lauded the new rules because they provide consumers with greater and clearer information on mortgage loans before the closing date.

Will Dudley, 2015 president of the Massanutten Association of Realtors, which represents firms in the counties of Shenandoah and Page, said, “The idea is to have buyers empowered as to what their loan is from the get-go.”

Starting this month, lenders are required to provide consumers with a three-page loan estimate that charts monthly payments, interest rates, closing costs and total amount owed on a loan.

“I think the idea is to create transparency between lenders and borrowers so that, from the beginning of the process, they know what their loan terms are going to be,” Dudley said.

He said he believes the rule changes will be “a wonderful thing for buyers” despite some growing pains or kinks that may need to be worked through for industry professionals.

“I think it’s just going to take communication between lenders and settlement agents,” he said. “I think with any major change, it takes a while to get the new system down.”

Jace Stirling, senior vice president of SunTrust Mortgage for Washington, D.C., and Maryland, noted, “What this does is it gives the customer better information up front and early.”

Stirling said that SunTrust, which has a branch on Pleasant Valley Road in Winchester, is in favor of the bureau’s new rules.

“It’s a large change for us, but at the same time, it’s ensuring that we have information to the client three days in advance,” Stirling said.

Prior to the new rules, this information was delivered 24-hours before closing.

These changes could mean good news for a housing market that appears to be slowly recovering from the crippling 2008-09 housing crisis.

Dudley said the average sales price of residential units in Shenandoah County is up nearly 10 percent from October of 2013. He added that they sold 542 units between 2013 and 2014, and have sold 509 through the first three quarters of 2015.

“I think just in general, we continue to see slowly but surely, our trends continue to climb upward, which is encouraging,” Dudley said.

“It’s important to note that the interest rates remain low and very appealing to buyers, and I think that’s certainly helped the caused,” He added. “I would hope that consumer confidence would be a little bit of a part of this.

“Hopefully, in the future, it will streamline the buying process for all buyers,” Dudley said of the new rules. “And I think once we work through the kinks … it’s going to make the purchasing of real estate a more enjoyable experience.”

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com