Closing.com, a Web site that allows consumers and real estate professionals to comparison-shop for settlement services online, says it will display cost estimates in the format required on the standardized Good Faith Estimate before lenders are required to use that form beginning Jan. 1.

By the fourth quarter of this year, borrowers using Closing.com will be able to submit a "pre-GFE" to loan originators, allowing for more reliable estimates of closing costs, the company said in announcing the launch of a 2.0 version of its Web site in beta testing.

Closing.com, a Web site that allows consumers and real estate professionals to comparison-shop for settlement services online, says it will display cost estimates in the format required on the standardized Good Faith Estimate before lenders are required to use that form beginning Jan. 1.

By the fourth quarter of this year, borrowers using Closing.com will be able to submit a "pre-GFE" to loan originators, allowing for more reliable estimates of closing costs, the company said in announcing the launch of a 2.0 version of its Web site in beta testing.

Once new rules amending the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) go into effect, Closing.com "will greatly facilitate lenders’ compliance" with requirements that certain cost estimates provided to borrowers on the GFE stay within set tolerances, Closing.com said.

The RESPA rule changes are intended to encourage homebuyers and homeowners refinancing their loans to shop around for the best deal on not only their mortgage, but on settlement services including title insurance (see story).

The new GFE stipulates that the estimated loan origination charges quoted to the borrower can’t increase at closing.

For required settlement services such as title services and title insurance, charges quoted on the GFE can increase by no more than 10 percent at closing if they are selected by the loan originator.

When borrowers shop for those services themselves or do not choose companies identified by the loan originator, the tolerances don’t apply.

Closing.com says it provides access to a database of more than 140,000 companies providing real estate services in 11 categories, ranging from title insurance and settlement services to home and pest inspections.

Consumers can see each provider’s rates and fees, office locations, credentials and services, and find and compare providers directly through the site.

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