When was the last time you thought about the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)? If, like most people, you can't remember, this might be a good time to pay attention -- and maybe even send them a thank-you note.

The department is aiming to make life a little clearer, if not easier, for homebuyers in America, by changing the rules regarding closings. The biggest proposed change is requiring lenders to give more accurate estimates of closing costs. The way things are now, many buyers are quoted an estimate that ends up being exceeded significantly, when all costs are eventually totaled.

If the reforms are enacted, mortgage shoppers will be able to compare between lenders more easily, and lenders will have an incentive to keep costs low, to attract more business. HUD estimates that home buyers would save an average of about $900 in fees per mortgage, which amounts to $10.3 billion per year, total.

Though you may be clapping gleefully now, the rest of the nation isn't necessarily clapping with you. Among those expressing concerns about the proposed changes are the folks who work in the real estate business -- such as mortgage brokers, title insurers, appraisers, etc. They see diminished fees (and therefore profits) for themselves -- which is especially threatening in today's environment that features interest rates finally inching upward and refinancings tapering off. Thus, the real estate services industry is lobbying hard against these proposed changes.

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