The commitment or approval letter is the most important document a borrower receives from the lender prior to closing. It informs the borrower that the loan application has been approved and that the bank has committed itself to lending the requested funds. However, this obligation is often conditioned upon certain requirements that must be met before or at the time of closing. Some of the typical re­quirements are: (a) explanation of any unfavorable item in a credit report; (b) verification of the borrower's employment; (c) provision of a survey; (d) homeowner's insurance; (e) termite or other inspections; (f) proof of necessary cash funds to close the transaction.

The commitment also sets forth the basic terms of the loan (i.e., fixed, variable rate, etc.), and the loan-associated fees (i.e., points) to be charged by the lender. The lender may require that the bor­rower sign and return a copy of the commitment or approval letter within a specified period in order for the loan commitment to be binding.

Since most sales contracts are contingent upon the buyers' obtaining financing by a specific date, it is essential that I be informed as soon as the com­mitment is received. At that point, the contract becomes unconditional, and all parties and their attorneys can begin the necessary preparations for the closing. Of course, I should be notified imme­diately if the lender declines or rejects the loan, since this can affect the buyers' liability under the sales contract.