Kathleen Fitzgerald, REALTOR®'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.
If you've set a goal of buying your first home within the next year, there are several things you can begin doing now to set the stage for a positive experience.
While it pays to familiarize yourself with everything from your credit score to mortgage options, choosing a good real estate agent will prove to be an invaluable advantage when navigating through the process of buying a home. An experienced, knowledgeable agent will help keep you on track, prepare necessary documents for you, and answer the myriad of questions that will occur to you.
Should you choose the first real estate agent you talk to? People occasionally find a perfect fit right off the bat, but it's often a good idea to interview a couple agents before you make your final decision. Having one or two points of comparison can provide you with a wider perspective of available choices.
Not only would you want to work with a professional who has a successful track record in helping first-time home buyers, but you also want to make sure your personality is compatible with your agent's communication style and energy level. Unless you stumble on the home of your dreams on the first day, you're probably going to be spending a lot of time with them. Most real estate agents do tend to be knowledgeable, resourceful, and service oriented, but your journey will be a lot smoother and more satisfying if you sign on with an agent who's a good match for your individual needs and personality.
One of the most effective ways to prepare yourself for a real estate search is to create lists of things you need to do, have, and schedule. It's also helpful to prioritize what you want in your ideal house. By identifying and reminding yourself of the features that are most important to you, you'll have a greater tendency to recognize what you want when you see it. You'll also find yourself communicating your needs and wants more clearly to your real estate agent. As is the case with any professional or personal relationship, good quality communication usually yields the best possible results.
As a home buyer, there are many property features and priorities you'll want to ponder and discuss with your significant other. In addition to your future home's square footage, bedroom space, and number of bathrooms, you may also be interested in the reputation of school districts, the character of neighborhoods you're considering, and the amount of privacy each property affords.
Another list worth compiling before you get too far into the house hunting process is a personal budget. By seeing how your income stacks up against your monthly expenses, you'll be in a stronger position to determine a realistic price range for your next home.
Regardless of when or where you search for a house, a home buying checklist is essential. With this checklist in hand, you can quickly and effortlessly discover a residence that suits you perfectly.
Now, let's take a look at three factors to incorporate into your home buying checklist.
1. Your Home Buying Timeline
Account for how much time is available to find and purchase a house. That way, you can boost the likelihood of getting the most out of the time and resources at your disposal.
As you create a home buying checklist, consider how much time you have before you need to relocate from your current address. Then, you can see how much time you have to pursue your dream home and evaluate the steps you will need to take to make that process run smoothly.
2. Your Home Must-Haves and Wants
Consider what you absolutely require from your new home. For instance, if you need a house that is close to your office in the city, you should check out homes in or near the city itself. Or, if you require a home that offers ample space for you and your children, you should hone your search to residences that have two or more bedrooms.
Of course, it helps to create a list of home wants and needs when you develop a house buying checklist. With the ability to evaluate your home needs at any time, you will be better equipped when deciding if a particular house is right for you.
3. Your Home Buying Budget
You know you want to purchase a house, but your current financial situation may be limited. Fortunately, if you prepare a home buying budget, you will know how much you can spend on a residence and map out your search accordingly.
Oftentimes, it helps to meet with credit unions or banks before you begin a home search. Credit unions and banks can teach you about different types of mortgages and how they work. Plus, these financial institutions can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage.
For those who want to streamline the home buying journey, it's a good idea to hire a real estate agent, too. A real estate agent can help you craft a home buying checklist, as well as provide tips and guidance as you search for your ideal house.
A real estate agent understands what it takes to find a terrific house at a budget-friendly price. First, a real estate agent will help a buyer evaluate the local real estate sector and narrow their home search. A real estate agent will also help a buyer discover a home that matches their expectations. Finally, a real estate agent will work with a buyer to put together a competitive offer to purchase this residence.
Craft a home buying checklist today – you will be happy you did. Once you have a home buying checklist, you can more seamlessly navigate the house buying journey.
While home remodeling can be about getting your home some major cool points, you really want to be focused on the home remodeling projects that will provide you the greatest amount of return on your investment. There are certain home remodeling projects that just aren’t worth it. Others will help the value of your home truly soar. It’s important to invest your money carefully and thoughtfully. If you know that you’re moving in the near future, you may not even want to undertake remodeling projects for fear that they won’t be worth it. There are certain projects that are absolutely necessary for you to complete if you hope to get the top value for your home. You don’t ant to put in thousands of dollars with no sign of return for your investment.
You don’t need to get complex when it comes to remodeling your home. Take a look at what needs help on the surface. This will include things like new kitchen countertops, replacing sinks, cabinet refacing, or floor retiling. Don’t bother with huge structural changes to the home. Also, keep in mind that someone else has a different taste than you. Keep things neutral. You might love a bright yellow kitchen, but it’s certain that the next owner will probably have a different preference.
Work With What You Have
While you may wish that you had a lot more space and hope to put an addition on the home, the next owners could have a different vision. While there will be more square feet of living space, many buyers look at a home’s potential for them. There’s no sense in starting a bunch of huge construction projects that will only become a costly source of stress.
Make The Necessary Repairs
Buyers will love a home that has a fairly new roof over one that will need a roof replacement within a couple of years. You should fix the things around the home that need to be tended to. This includes window replacements, roofs, electrical outlet work, and major yard issues.
Don’t Forget The Outdoors
It’s important for your home to look good from the outside as well. Buyers appreciate a home that has been well taken care of. Take the time, money, and effort to keep up your lawn and outdoor landscaping. Planting some greenery around can never hurt. While new owners may have different tastes than you, it’s always a bonus to move into a house and have a little less work to do on the outside!
A homebuyer who considers the seller's perspective may be better equipped than others to enjoy a successful property buying experience. In fact, this buyer should have no trouble submitting a competitive offer to purchase – something that may lead to a fast home purchase.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you analyze the seller's perspective.
1. Review a Home Listing
A home listing provides a great opportunity to learn about a house. It also enables you to analyze how long a house has been available, a residence's features and other factors that may dictate your decision to pursue a residence.
Assess a home listing closely. If you believe your expectations fall in line with a seller's after reviewing a listing, you may want to consider setting up an in-person showing. Or, if you believe a home does not match expectations, you may want to continue to look for your dream house.
2. Check Out a House In-Person
If you find a home you may want to buy, it generally is a good idea to set up an in-person showing. At this point, you can see how a seller has maintained a house and determine if a home is right for you.
Typically, a real estate agent is ready to respond to a buyer's concerns and questions during a showing. This housing market professional may be able to provide insights into why a seller has listed his or her residence. And as a result, you can use these insights to make an informed decision about how to proceed with a house.
3. Understand the Local Housing Market
The local housing market fluctuates, and it may favor buyers or sellers. If you study the local real estate sector, you can differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's market – or vice-versa.
In a buyer's market, there may be an abundance of quality houses available at budget-friendly prices. On the other hand, in a seller's market, there may be a shortage of first-rate houses, and those that are available may be in high demand among buyers.
Keep in mind how a seller's perspective may vary based on the current housing market's conditions as well. If a buyer's market is in place, a seller may be ready to accept a competitive offer to purchase his or her residence. Conversely, in a seller's market, a seller may be reluctant to accept an offer to purchase that falls below his or her initial home asking price.
Lastly, as you get set to embark on the homebuying journey, you may want to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional can teach you everything you need to know about buying a house. He or she can help you analyze the seller's perspective and make an informed home purchase too.
Ready to navigate the homebuying journey? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can assess the seller's perspective and boost the likelihood of enjoying a successful homebuying experience.