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Guide to Closing Costs
Guide to Closing Costs
A Complete Guide to Closing Costs
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Also, you should know that with fluctuations in the real estate market, closing costs are also fluctuating. A 2012 US News article pointed out that closing costs dropped 7 percent over 2011-2012 to an average of about $3,754.
The drops are, in part, because of 2010 regulations that were put in place by the government to shield homebuyers from “closing cost sticker shock.” Now that lenders are better at estimating final closing costs, those costs are dropping naturally.
Still, the national average for closing costs is nearly $4,000, which isn’t pocket change for your average homebuyer. So where’s all that money going? Here are some of the closing costs you might have to pay, along with average costs, based on the Allstate Home Buyers Closing Cost Worksheet.
According to the Federal Reserve, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act requires that a lender give you a “good faith estimate” of your closing costs within three business days of your submitting your loan application.
Basically, the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) is part of shopping around for a mortgage. Because different lenders will have different requirements, closing costs can vary widely. So before you choose a mortgage, carefully look over the GFE to find differences between lenders.
While federal regulations aiming for more transparency in home lending have made good faith estimates somewhat more accurate, you have to remember that it’s still an estimate.
Saving for closing costs is a “hope for the best, plan for the worst” situation. Try to figure out the most you’d have to pay in closing costs and be prepared to pay them (while still leaving some cash in reserves). But you should also find the best lender for your needs and reduce closing costs as much as possible.
The easiest way to pay closing costs, of course, is cash. If you have enough money in savings to pay for your down payment and your closing costs and to have cash in reserves, this is often the best option.
Paying more closing costs keeps you from taking out a bigger loan and can save you money on mortgage interest, which may save you a fortune over the life of your loan.
If you don’t have plenty of cash on hand, you can roll your closing costs into your mortgage. Because closing costs are generally a small amount of money compared with your overall mortgage, most lenders don’t mind rolling part or all of the closing costs into the loan.
However, you do have to be careful because rolling your closing costs into your mortgage may mean you can’t spend as much money on a house. For instance, if, based on your credit, your lender agrees to finance up to 90 percent of the value of a $150,000 home, they may not go over that loan-to-value ratio, even to roll in closing costs.
In this scenario, say you’ve agreed to put $15,000 (10 percent) down on a home worth $150,000. Your lender agrees to finance 90 percent of the home’s value, leaving a $135,000 mortgage. If you don’t have cash for the $5,000 in closing costs, you could ask the lender to roll that into your loan, making your mortgage $140,000.
But if the lender isn’t comfortable financing 95 percent of the home’s value (a very high loan-to-value ratio in the world of home lending), you may be out of luck. In this case, you might have to find a cheaper home so that you can pay a smaller down payment and have money left for closing costs.
One thing to note: many government-backed loans, like the FHA and VA loans, are set up specifically for first-time or lower-income home buyers, who often have trouble saving for a down payment and closing costs. Because of this, it’s common for these loans to roll closing costs into the mortgage and to finance even above 95 percent of the home’s value.
This is easier to accomplish in a sluggish housing market, or any time the seller is ready to get out of the home ASAP. In some cases, the seller will take part of the closing costs out of the money they’re getting when they sell the home.
If you don’t have money to pay closing costs, this is a good way to save money without increasing your loan (and, thus, your monthly mortgage payments). And what’s the worst that can happen? The seller may just say no.
Sometimes a lender will pay your closing costs, even if they don’t roll them into your mortgage. For instance, your lender might just outright pay $4,000 toward your closing costs but then raise the interest rate on your loan by 0.25 percent or more. (They’re not in the habit of giving away free money, after all.)
You’ll need to make sure this doesn’t come back to bite you. Figure out how much that extra interest will cost you over the life of your loan, or at least the length of time you plan to be in the home, and see if this is a reasonable approach for you.
Taking out a separate loan for a down payment is usually a no-no. Your main lender wants to be the only one to have a claim on your home if you should default.
However, you could take out an unsecured loan to cover closing costs. Just be careful here, as interest rates could really bite on a personal unsecured loan.