For those who have never been experienced what it’s like to go through a real estate closing, there are often many questions regarding closing costs. As one might expect, closing costs are fees associated with everything it takes to finalize a mortgage. They can range dramatically depending upon the price of the actual home, and since some people don’t see them coming, closing costs are often a rather rude awakening.
Rather than staying in the dark, it’s important for both buyers and sellers to know ahead of time what they’re likely to pay in closing costs. The more educated you are on the process, the more smoothly it is likely to go.
What are Closing Costs?
In a nutshell, closing costs are the fees that have to be paid before you can finalize the purchase of a home. Closing costs are calculated as a percentage of the home’s purchase price and they usually run between 2 and 5 percent. So for example, if you’re buying a $200,000 home, your closing costs could be anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000.
Despite the expense of having to pay for closing costs when you buy a home, the good news is mortgage rates are low right now, which means it’s a great time to buy. Get the latest mortgage rates for your area.
Closing costs can be broken down into a few different categories. The first covers all the fees the lender charges for processing your loan so you can actually buy the home.
Closing Costs for Buyers
Those who are in the market for a new home should expect to pay off a variety of different fees when the process begins to finalize itself. Buyers are typically charged any fees that are necessary for obtaining a mortgage, as well as home inspection costs, title insurance/settlement fees, the costs for property taxes and transfer taxes.
In addition, buyers need to expect to pay for homeowners insurance. The end result can add up to be around 10 percent of the final costs associated with the property, which is just one reason why buyers should pay close attention to the importance of budgeting for their closing.
The most common closing cost fees:
- An application fee
- A fee for obtaining your credit report
- Loan origination fees (this fee covers the lender’s administrative costs for finalizing your application and drawing up the loan paperwork)
- A fee to have the property appraised to determine what it’s worth
- Inspection fees
- Mortgage points, which is a fee you pay up front so you can get a lower interest rate on the loan
- A commitment fee, which you’d pay to lock in your interest rate
Aside from what the lender charges, there are also fees for things like having the mortgage deed notarized and recorded with your local county tax office. The attorney or agent who handles the final sign-off on all the paperwork also gets a fee.
Closing Costs for Sellers
While many people think buyers pay the vast majority of closing costs, this is typically not the case. While buyers usually have a wider array of costs to pay, sellers usually pay around the same amount of money in the end — sometimes even more.
For one, they need to pay off the costs of their loan which can sometimes include prepayment penalty fees. It’s also typical to pay commissions to an agent or broker — whomever was involved in the sale of the home. Add to this transfer taxes, fees for notary, attorney and title insurance, and it becomes quite clear that sellers are not exactly in a better place than buyers when it comes to final closing costs.
Negotiating closing costs
As one might expect, the variability of closing costs typically means that some degree of negotiation is at least a possibility. Given the fact that these costs can end up in the tens of thousands of dollars, it’s certainly worth exploring ways in which they could potentially be lowered.
For buyers, even saving 1 or 2 percent on closing costs can add up to be thousands of dollars. You can negotiate to save on costs instead of on the final price of the home, which will bring far more money to you, faster. Over the course of the life of a loan, saving a bit on the home’s price will only amount to a few dollars each month. Saving close to $5,000 up-front on closing costs, though, can turn into a much more noticeable payoff.
Sellers can negotiate as well. Every aspect of the closing process has a bit of leeway, which is just one reason why sellers should not be content with the initial costs of closing. By negotiating each step, you can expect to save almost as much as you would if you were the buyer. Negotiation can sometimes be uncomfortable, but it’s more than worth the time and effort – especially if it could save you thousands of dollars in the end.
As closing costs can end up being exceptionally high on expensive properties, both buyers and sellers should begin saving as early on as possible. Getting hit with these costs at the end of a closing can be devastating if you don’t know what you’re up against, and the more you know about how much you’ll end up having to spend, the less hassle you’ll deal with.
Erik is a staff writer for MyBankTracker.com, who specializes in real estate, consumer banking and personal finance.