Mortgages are a lot harder to hack as there are a ton of factors plus the opaqueness of the whole process. With the Dodd-Frank and CFPB, they have a new LE sheet which (theoretically) lets you shop apples-to-apples by making all lenders fill out the exact sheet (it is a combined TIL + GFE)
The numbers used to be able to move around (aka “wiggle room” +/- some % on some items) as it it called an estimate and you have to sign this to get the loan going. About 3-4 months ago, they changed this so that there is very, very little wiggle room and any change requires a signature. But you are kind of already captive since what are you going to do … go to another lender and start the process again? For purchases, timing is important.
The final paperwork (which you typically get at the END after everything is done) is this
For refinancing, timing doesn’t really matter too much. If it drags on for 2-3 months, nobody really cares. For purchases, your main goal is to get approved and get the loan funded within a reasonable amount of time to close (30-45 days). If your loan doesn’t fund, it sucks for everybody – seller, buyer, etc. For a seller, specially in a hyper-competitive market like Los Angeles, cash offers above asking + no contingencies are basically the winners because it is a “done” deal. For mortgages, you have to justify every penny of your downpayment (aka not drug money). So, even if a lender has the best rate, if they can’t close the loan, you are not in a good position. A pre-approval helps but it NOT a guarantee. You can always refinance 6 months later to a better lender – your goal is to get the loan funded.