As I have stated before in these threads:
You bring up a question that many bankers struggle with. The problem is the guidance isn't really designed for banks that don't have "defined" rate locks (unlike secondary market loans which have "defined" rate locks). HMDA guidance states that you are to use the date the rate was last locked. Because of this rule, I have seen bankers use different interpretations when they don't have a "defined" rate lock; application date, RESPA date, underwriting date, date of any changes, and closing date. Other bankers have their loan officer complete a "rate lock date" form and use the date provided by the loan officer.
In my opinion, you will have to look at your operations to determine what date is the most reasonable. I feel that in many institutions, the best date to use is the date the loan is approved as you can argue that this is the technical date the rate is locked by the Bank; the rate wasn't really locked until the loan was approved and the rate didn't change after the approval. However, if your institution does not change rates for any loans from the rate given at the time of application (meaning if they are approved, they get the rate at application), you would have a good argument for using the application date.
Bottom line, you need to look at the process at your institution and determine what date is most appropriate. Then, be consistent across the board. You may also want to run this by your primary regulator and see if they have any input.
Adam Witmer, CRCM
All statements are my opinion, not those of my employer, and should not be taken as legal advice.www.compliancecohort.com