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Frozen credit files can slow mortgage process

Congressional legislation earlier this year removed that cost barrier and set some new guidelines for the credit bureaus and consumers, thereby opening the door to much wider use of the tool. This should be good news for home buyers and owners since, on average, they tend to have greater assets and larger numbers of credit accounts to protect than others.

But there’s a real estate-related issue here that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention: Heavier use of credit freezes could create more complications and delays when people with frozen files apply for mortgages. Some lenders say dealing with applicants who keep their files in deep freezes — and want to keep them frozen during as much of the mortgage process as possible — can be challenging.

“It’s a big problem” if consumers don’t understand what lenders, loan processors and investors need in terms of access to their credit files from the application stage through closing, says Joe Metzler, senior loan officer for Mortgages Unlimited in West St. Paul, Minnesota. When Metzler tells applicants that he needs them to unfreeze their credit files “at least a couple of times” during the process, sometimes they “freak out about it,” he says. And when they don’t lift their freezes in a timely manner, their loan closings may be postponed.

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