has unveiled a widget that can be embedded in any Web site to help consumers and real estate professionals calculate closing costs by querying a database of more than 140,000 companies to obtain actual fees and quotes for settlement services ranging from title insurance to home and pest inspections.

When users enter information about a transaction including property location, purchase price and loan amount, the SmartClosing Calculator widget computes the fees, charges and taxes that lenders must include on good faith estimate (GFE) provided to mortgage applicants.

By shopping around for the best deal on settlement services, estimates consumers can save $300 to $1,500 per transaction.

Beginning Jan. 1, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will require that loan originators use a standardized GFE form that’s intended to help consumers comparison shop and prevent "bait and switch" tactics by loan originators.

HUD will prohibit lenders from changing the estimated loan origination charges quoted to the borrower on the GFE. For required settlement services such as title insurance, charges quoted on the GFE can increase by no more than 10 percent at closing when they are selected by the loan originator.

Improving consumers’ ability to comparison shop and prohibitions on bait-and-switch tactics on loan terms and settlement service fees should save borrowers about $700 a loan, HUD estimates (see story). has said its "SmartClosing" technology will not only help consumers, but facilitate lender compliance with the new requirements, which are part of changes to rules governing enforcement of the the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA).


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