What are closing costs?
Whether you're a first-time home buyer or have purchased property before, if you get a mortgage to buy a home, you'll have to pay closing costs. Closing costs are fees associated with your home purchase that are paid at the closing of a real estate transaction. Closing is the point in time when the title of the property is transferred from the seller to the buyer. Closing costs are incurred by either the buyer or seller.
What fees can you expect at closing?
Closing costs vary widely based on where you live, the property you buy, and the type of loan you choose.
These fees are paid to third parties to help facilitate the sale of a home, typically total 2% to 5% of the home's purchase price. So on a $250,000 home, you could expect the amount to run anywhere from $5,000 to $12,500. Here is a list of fees that may be included in closing.
- Application Fee:This fee covers the cost for the lender to process your application. Before submitting an application, ask your lender what this fee covers. It can often include things like a credit check for your credit score or appraisal as well. Not all lenders charge an application fee, and it can often be negotiated.
- Appraisal: This is paid to the appraisal company to confirm the fair market value of the home.
- Closing Fee or Escrow Fee: This is paid to the title company, escrow company or attorney for conducting the closing. The title company or escrow oversees the closing as an independent party in your home purchase. Some states require a real estate attorney be present at every closing.
- Credit Report: A Tri-merge credit report is pulled to get your credit history and score. Your credit score plays a big role in determining the interest rate you’ll get on your loan.
- Escrow Deposit for Property Taxes & Mortgage Insurance: Often you are asked to put down two months of property tax and mortgage insurance payments at closing.
- FHA Up-Front Mortgage Insurance Premium (UPMIP): If you have an FHA loan, you’ll be required to pay the UPMIP of 1.75% of the base loan amount. You are also able to roll this into the cost of the loan if you prefer.
- Home Inspection: You will likely get your own home inspection to verify the condition of a property and to check for home repairs that may be needed before closing.
- HOA Transfer Fees: The Seller will pay for this transfer which will show that the dues are paid current, what the dues are, a copy of the association financial statements, minutes and notices. The buyer should review these documents to determine if the Association has enough reserves in place to avert future special assessments, check to see if there are special assessments, legal action, or any other items that might be of concern. Also included will be Association by-laws, rules and regulations and CC & Rs.
- Homeowners’ Insurance: This covers possible damages to your home. Your first year’s insurance is often paid at closing.
- Lender’s Policy Title Insurance: This is insurance to assure the lender that you own the home and the lender’s mortgage is a valid lien, and it protects the lender if there is a problem with the title. Similar to the title search, but always a separate line item.
- Loan Discount Points:“Points” are prepaid interest. One point is one percent of your loan amount. This is a lump sum payment that lowers your monthly payment for the life of your loan.
- Owner’s Policy Title Insurance: This is an insurance policy that protects you in the event someone challenges your ownership of the home. It is usually optional.
- Origination Fee: This covers the lender’s administrative costs. It’s usually about 1 percent of the total loan but you can sometimes find mortgages with no origination fee.
- Prepaid Interest:Most lenders will ask you to prepay any interest that will accrue between closing and the date of your first mortgage payment.
- Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): If you’re making a down payment that’s less than 20% of the home’s purchase price, chances are you’ll be required to pay PMI. If so, you may need to pay the first month’s PMI payment at closing.
- Property Tax: Typically, lenders will want any taxes due within 60 days of purchase by the loan servicer to be paid at closing.
- Recording Fees: A fee charged by your local recording office, usually city or county, for the recording of public land records.
- Survey Fee: This fee goes to a survey company to verify all property lines and things like shared fences on the property. This is not required in all states.
- Title Company Title Search or Exam Fee: This fee is paid to the title company for doing a thorough search of the property’s records. The title company researches the deed to your new home, ensuring that no one else has a claim to the property.
- Transfer Taxes: This is the tax paid when the title passes from seller to buyer.
- Underwriting Fee: This also goes to your lender, covering the cost of researching whether or not to approve you for the loan.
- VA Funding Fee: If you have a VA loan, you may be required to pay a VA funding fee at closing (or you can roll this fee into the cost of the loan if you prefer). This is a percentage of the loan amount that the VA assesses to fund the VA home loan program, however some borrowers are exempt from this fee. The percentage depends on your type of service and the amount of your down payment.
How to prepare for closing costs
The best option to prepare for closing costs is to consult with a lender before you start looking at homes to understand what all the costs will be based on the type of property you’re buying. A number of factors (such as the type of loan, type of property, type of occupancy and credit score) determine what the closing costs may be.
That’s why a mortgage pre-approval is highly recommended, and we are happy to provide some trusted lenders for you to speak with to get you started on the process.