Marita Tasse's Blog
Closing costs are usually an unavoidable part of buying a home. While there are ways to reduce some closing costs and fees, they are an expense you will likely have to consider when it comes time to save for a home.
On average, buyers can expect to pay between 2 and 5 percent of the purchase price in closing costs and fees.
In this article, we’re going to break down those costs and talk about some ways to plan for, or limit, the fees associated with closing on a home.
A breakdown of closing costs
Most closing costs in a real estate transaction are paid for by the buyer. When getting approved for a mortgage, your lender is required to provide you with an estimate of the closing costs. This is called a “Closing Disclosure statement” which overviews the details of your loan.
Different lenders will charge varying amounts in fees. Some are even willing to waive certain fees. But, we’ll discuss that later.
For now, let’s focus on the closing costs buyers typically have to pay:
Attorney fees - a flat-fee or hourly rate depending on the attorney
Origination fees - an upfront fee charged by the lender for processing your mortgage application
Prepaid interest or discount points - a payment for the interest that will accrue on your mortgage from the time you close until your first mortgage payment is due
Home inspection fee - the fee that a professional home inspector charges to inspect a home
Escrow deposits - Usually split with the seller, this is the fee charged by an escrow agent
Recording fees - fees for legally recording the new deed and mortgage
Underwriting fees - fees paid to the lender for researching your mortgage case and determining whether or not to approve your application
These are just some of the many fees that can be due upon closing on a home. Depending on where you live, which lender you choose, and the type of mortgage you secure, your closing costs will vary, so it’s a good idea to shop around for a lender and mortgage type with reasonable closing costs.
Reducing closing costs
Some lenders offer no-cost, or low-cost mortgages. However, these savings often come with a higher interest rate which, over the lifespan of your loan, can cost you more in the long run.
You should also be aware of the different loan types that you may be eligible for. FHA loans, USDA loans, and VA loans are all designed for buyers hoping to make lower down payments on their home.
Each loan type provides different amounts due at closing. Fortunately, your mortgage lender will be able to give you an estimate of costs for each loan type.
Want to get an estimate of the closing costs you’ll have to pay when you buy a home? You can use this online calculator to see an average.
The more you know about the process of buying a house, the better prepared you'll be for doing it successfully.
How might you define "success" when it comes to purchasing a home?
There are a lot of standards that could be applied to successfully navigating the home buying process, but here are a few that immediately come to mind:
- Finding the house of your dreams: While very few people find a home that is absolutely perfect in every way, it is possible to come close to achieving that ideal. Although a certain amount of flexibility goes a long way, knowing what you want and prioritizing important features are among the main prerequisites to getting what you want. As baseball legend Yogi Berra once said, "If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else." Thanks to the variety of websites devoted to home ownership, home decorating, remodeling, and landscaping, it's easy to find pictures online that can help inspire your imagination and clarify exactly what the house of your dreams might look like.
- Minimizing setbacks and frustrations: The process of house hunting is a journey that often involves bumpy roads, detours, and dead ends. One secret to getting through it successfully is to work with an experienced real estate agent who knows the ropes and can keep you on track. It also helps to approach house hunting with a sense of optimism, resourcefulness, and commitment. Although you probably have a lot of competing priorities in your life, finding a house that you and your family will be happy in for the next few years deserves a top spot on your list!
- Avoiding unpleasant surprises: Knowing your credit score and understanding the impact it will have on getting loan approval and a favorable interest rate will help prepare you for the financial side of buying a house. The ability to get prequalified for a mortgage and come up with sufficient down payment will also set the stage for a successful home buying experience. On the plus side, a higher down payment can potentially result in a lower interest rate and not having to pay private mortgage insurance (A 20% down payment is necessary to avoid PMI.) Since many loan programs and lenders require at least a 3-5% down payment, that can be a stumbling block for first-time home buyers. To purchase a $200,000 home, for example, you'd need to come up with a cash outlay of between $6,000 to $10,000 -- not an easy feat for everyone!
House hunting can be time-consuming. With so many houses currently on the market and so little time to spend visiting homes, it’s important to narrow down your search as much as possible before attending a showing.
Fortunately, in today’s digital world, it’s possible to learn a great deal of important information right from your phone or computer.
In today’s post, I’m going to give you some advice on researching the homes you’re thinking about making an offer on. We’ll talk about researching the neighborhood, and--of course--the house itself.
Putting together all the stats on the home
Let’s start with, arguably, the most important thing to research: the house itself. When you want to learn about a home, the best place to look is usually the real estate listing. Since most of us discover homes through listings, odds are you’re already on this page. However, there’s a lot of information in a listing, so take the time to go through it and gleam whatever you can from the home’s description.
Next, Google the house address and click on listings from other real estate sites. Oftentimes, a house that has been sold before will have multiple listings across the internet with different data.
Once you’ve scoured the listings, head over to the county assessor’s website to look at records of the home’s ownership. This will tell you who bought and sold the home and when. There’s much you can learn from this data, especially if a home is being sold frequently. You can also use this information to contact previous owners to ask them questions about the home that the current owner might not know the answer to.
Snooping around the neighborhood
If the house is nearby, simply driving through the neighborhood can tell you a lot. You can visit the neighborhood during rush hour to see what the traffic is like, for example.
However, it isn’t always practical to take the time to visit a house that you aren’t sure you’re interested in. So, what’s the next best thing? Google Maps.
Visit the neighborhood on Google Maps to see what’s in the area. Are there a lot of closed businesses? That could be a sign of a neighborhood in decline. Check for nearby things like parks, grocery stores, and other amenities that could influence your buying decision.
Next, use Google’s “street view” feature and explore the neighborhood. You can see what kind of shape the other homes are in, and find out the condition of infrastructure like roads and sidewalks.
Note addresses of comparable homes in the neighborhood and look up their purchase prices. This will give you an idea of whether the home is being priced appropriately.
If you’re having trouble finding information on a home, such as sale records, try contacting the local assessor. They should be able to point you to a database that will help you in your search.
If you plan to buy a house, you may want to host a yard sale sooner rather than later. That way, you can sell items you no longer need and won't have to worry about moving these items once you find a new residence.
Ultimately, there are many reasons why it may be beneficial to host a yard sale before you kick off the property buying journey. These reasons include:
1. You can earn extra cash.
Let's face it – purchasing a home can be expensive, regardless of where you decide to live. Fortunately, if you host a yard sale, you can earn extra cash that you may be able to use to cover assorted homebuying and moving expenses.
Whether it's the costs associated with moving supplies or the closing fees on a new home, expenses can add up quickly during the homebuying cycle. Thankfully, by hosting a yard sale, you can simultaneously cut down on unwanted items and earn cash from these items.
2. You can start packing.
As you separate items you want to keep from those you want to sell, you can start packing for your eventual move. Thus, hosting a yard sale may help you kick off the process of moving from one location to another.
Of course, as you start packing, you also may want to reach out to local moving companies. This will allow you to learn about local moving companies, find out their rates and determine whether a moving company is a viable option for your eventual move.
3. You can move one step closer to finding your dream home.
Hosting a yard sale provides a great opportunity to connect with community members and tell them about your plans to search for a new house. In some instances, community members may be able to help you accelerate your search for your dream residence too.
A yard sale may prove to be exceedingly valuable for an individual who wants to start a house search soon. And if you are ready to explore the local housing market following your yard sale, you may want to consult with a real estate agent.
Typically, a real estate agent streamlines all stages of the homebuying journey. He or she will help you pursue houses in your preferred cities and towns so you can find your dream home. Then, a real estate agent will ensure you can submit a competitive offer to purchase your ideal residence. If your homebuying proposal is accepted, a real estate agent next will help you finalize your home purchase.
A real estate agent is an expert resource throughout the homebuying journey. If a homebuyer has questions as he or she searches for the right house, a real estate agent can quickly respond to them.
Host a yard sale before you purchase a house – you'll be glad you did. Because if you host a successful yard sale, you can take the next step to find and buy your ideal home.
If you plan to purchase a house in the foreseeable future, it generally is a good idea to plan ahead for all of your potential homebuying costs. That way, you can secure the funds you need to purchase your dream house.
Now, let's take a look at three costs that every homebuyer needs to consider during the property buying journey.
1. Credit Report
A lender likely will request a verified credit report before it provides you with a mortgage. The fee for a credit report usually is minimal, but it is important to note that this fee adds to the overall cost of purchasing a house.
Oftentimes, a homebuyer can get pre-approved for a mortgage and pay a credit report fee prior to conducting a house search. On the other hand, if a buyer wants to secure financing from a lender after he or she discovers the perfect house, the cost of a credit report may be incorporated into this individual's home closing costs.
2. Home Inspection
A property inspection is crucial, as it ensures a property expert can analyze a house and identify any underlying problems with it before a buyer finalizes his or her home purchase. As such, it is paramount to account for home inspection fees to ensure you have the funds available to hire an inspector who can perform an in-depth evaluation of a house.
The cost of a home inspection varies based on the size of a residence. Meanwhile, there is no need to forgo this evaluation. Because if you ignore a home inspection, you risk encountering costly, time-intensive problems after you buy a residence.
3. Pest or Mold Inspection
A pest or mold inspection is not a requirement if you purchase a new house. Conversely, if you purchase an older residence, it typically is beneficial to inspect it for pests and mold prior to finalizing your house purchase.
Pest or mold inspection costs vary based on a home's size and location. And if you feel a home may be susceptible to pests or mold, you should pay the necessary fees to conduct a pest or mold inspection. Otherwise, you could encounter home pests or mold that may cause major problems down the line.
As you prepare to pursue your dream residence, you may want to hire a real estate agent as well. If you have a real estate agent at your side, you can receive comprehensive guidance as you navigate the homebuying journey.
In addition to teaching you about homebuying costs, a real estate agent is happy to educate you about all aspects of the housing market. Plus, a real estate agent will respond to your homebuying queries and help you make informed decisions as you search for your ideal residence.
When it comes to purchasing a house, it helps to budget accordingly. If you consider the aforementioned homebuying costs, you can craft a homebuying budget and speed up your quest to discover your dream house.