Getting a mortgage loan these days can be a slow and frustrating experience.

Here are some things that buyers should know as they go through the application process:

  • Ask for the Good Faith Estimate early. It won't be released until it is officially complete and all the questions are answered. Push applicants to find answers right away to all the lender's questions.
  • Suggest they read and ask questions about the fine print. Identifying and negotiating all the fees and charges can cut an applicant's costs.
  • Shop title insurance. Point buyers toward Web sites like, where they can comparison shop.
  • Get a commitment. Insist that the lender or loan broker agree that there won't be any other charges on the HUD-1, which most borrowers don't see until they are at the settlement table. If [the lender] won't agree to that, you have to be a little suspicious, says Claire Fennessey, senior vice president of Entitle Direct.
  • Question flood insurance. If a property requires flood insurance, point buyers (and sellers) toward a civil engineering firm with experience with the Federal Emergency Management Agency's resources to ensure that they aren't paying too much. Eligibility for a preferred risk policy can cut costs substantially.

Source: Chicago Tribune, Mary Ellen Podmolik (07/05/2009)