If you’ve ever gotten a mortgage, you know that the forms that came with it are basically impossible to read. Particularly savvy or wealthy homebuyers may hire a lawyer to review the documents, but for most people the process of signing their mortgage is merely a blind blur of flipped paper and swooshing pens.
Ever since it was created just over a year ago, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has talked about simplifying that morass. The bureau took the next step in that process last week by releasing two prototypes for simplified mortgage forms to the public and requesting consumers’ comments on them both.
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Both forms contain the same information, and for the first four pages they are identical. The only difference is that one form crams loan disclosures, calculations and receipt confirmation onto one page, where the other form splits those details into two pages.
Oh, and then there are the names. The five-page prototype is called “Hornbeam.” The six-page version is called “Ironwood.” We thought that sounded awfully fancy, especially for a bureaucratic agency, which usually label things with such singsong names as “Form A” and “Form B.”
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Who are these tony Hornbeam and Ironwood characters? The authors of the different forms? The country clubs where each form was hashed out? We bugged the CFPB with these pressing questions, so we’ll let you know what they tell us.
What the bureau’s interim director Raj Date did say in a press release about the new prototypes: “Purchasing a home is one of the biggest financial decisions a consumer can make. Our goal is to help make the costs and risks clear at all stages of the mortgage process—from shopping for a mortgage to signing on the dotted line.”
To participate in the bureau’s test-run of the forms, check out its website here. You can download both forms, and vote for your favorite by clicking on the green button at the bottom.
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