Comparing loan offers

Request Loan Estimates from multiple lenders

Don’t choose a loan before you know it is a good one. Requesting a Loan Estimate is simple and no written documentation is required.

By getting Loan Estimates from multiple lenders, you can compare to see which lender is offering you the best deal.

What to do now

Request a Loan Estimate

Contact the lenders you are considering and tell them you are ready to request a Loan Estimate. You don’t need to provide written documentation yet (though it’s always a good idea to share what you have). You just need to provide six key pieces of information to begin your loan application:

  • Your name
  • Your income
  • Your social security number (so the lender can check your credit)
  • The address of the home you plan to purchase
  • An estimate of the home’s value (typically, the sale price)
  • The loan amount you want to borrow (the home price minus your down payment amount)

Ask each lender for the same kind of loan with the same features

You want to be comparing apples to apples when you get your Loan Estimates. At this point in the process, you should already have a pretty good idea of the kind of loan and features you want:

If you’re unsure about any of these options, click the links above for specific information, revisit our Explore loan choices phase for a step-by-step overview, or have a more exploratory conversation with lenders.

Share information about the property taxes and condo or HOA dues for the home you plan to purchase

Your Loan Estimate includes an estimate of these costs. If they are escrowed, they are included in your total monthly payment. Your total monthly payment is an important number, because it helps you decide whether a loan is affordable for you. To get the most accurate estimates, share any information you have about these property-related costs with your lenders. The seller or a real estate agent is usually the best source for this information.


What to know

Getting a Loan Estimate is easy and doesn’t cost much

You’re not required to provide written documentation to get a Loan Estimate. The only fee that can be charged is a small upfront fee to pay for pulling your credit report, usually no more than $20.

It’s a good idea to share information with lenders

While you’re not required to provide documentation to receive a Loan Estimate, it’s a good idea to share what you have with the lender. Even if you don’t have documentation available, tell your lender if there is anything unusual about your situation — for example, if you are self-employed or have irregular sources of income. The more information the lender has, the more accurate your Loan Estimate will be.

If a loan officer suggests a different type of loan or features than what you asked for, ask questions

It’s possible the loan officer has found a better loan for you, but they may also be trying to sell you a particular type of loan for other reasons.

  • Ask the loan officer to explain why they think the new loan is a better deal for you.
  • Ask the loan officer to give you Loan Estimates for both the original loan you asked for and the new loan they are suggesting, so you can see the differences in costs and risks.
  • Don’t make any decisions until you feel confident you understand the pros and cons of all of the options you are considering.

Getting multiple Loan Estimates won’t hurt your credit, so long as you get them all within the same 45-day window

Learn why, and what happens when a lender checks your credit.

Loans for some types of property may cost more

Lenders usually charge somewhat more for loans to buy a condo, a home with more than one unit (for example, a duplex), or a manufactured home. Compared to loans to buy a single family home, loans for these property types may cost more.


How to avoid pitfalls

Lenders shouldn't be asking you to pay any substantial upfront fees at this point

By law, the only fee that lenders are allowed to charge you before issuing a Loan Estimate is a small upfront fee to pay for pulling your credit report. The fee will usually be no more than $20.

Never sign a form with blank spaces

When you sign a loan application, you are saying that what is on the form is true. Don’t let anyone persuade you to sign a blank form or a form with any blank spaces left to be filled in later.

Watch for warning signs of illegal credit discrimination

Illegal credit discrimination often happens behind closed doors, which makes it hard to spot. If you believe you have been discriminated against, you can:

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Visit our sources page to learn more about the facts and numbers we reference.

The process and forms described on this page reflect mortgage regulations that apply to most mortgages.