Breaking It Down: Understanding Your Home Closing Costs
When you’re a first-time homebuyer, the entire concept of closing costs may be elusive and intimidating. You know they’re coming, but you have no idea what to expect. Luckily, a little knowledge can go a long way.
Fees for loan application services and costs associated with your monthly mortgage—usually referred to as closing costs—can be divided into four main categories.
These fees are charged for the processing of your loan application.
- Underwriting and/or processing fees
- Government recording fees
- Origination fees – Calculated as a percentage of the loan amount, this fee covers lender overhead costs and profit.
Third Party Fees
These fees are assessed based on the type of loan and type of property you’re purchasing.
- Appraisal fee – The cost to assess and confirm the property’s value for the lender
- Owner’s title insurance – Protects the owner from financial loss as a result of title defects or any liens discovered after the purchase
- Lender’s title insurance – Protects the lender from financial loss as a result of title defects or any liens discovered after the purchase
- Transfer taxes – The cost of transferring the title from the seller to the borrower
- Document preparation fee
- FHA UFMIP or VA funding fee flood certification – Applicable based on loan type
- Flood certification – Applicable if the property is in a government-certified flood zone
- Notary/Wire/Courier fees – If applicable
- Interest – Interest is prorated based on the date of purchase and the month’s end
- Homeowners insurance – You’ll be asked to bring proof that you purchased home insurance to the closing
Escrow Account Funds
The lender requires a deposit to open an escrow account. The costs listed, plus mortgage and interest, make up your monthly payment.
- Property taxes
- Homeowners insurance
- Mortgage insurance – Applicable if you’ve paid less than 20% of the value of the home as a down payment
Adjustment to Your Interest Rate
- Borrower credit – This adjustment would be made to reflect any discount the lender may offer
- Buy down points – Also known as “discount points,” can be used to “buy” a lower interest rate. Each quarter basis point you purchase to lower your overall interest rate equals 1% of your loan amount. Discount points lower the interest rate for the entire term of the loan.
Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure
You don’t have to wait until you’re sitting at the closing table to review these closing costs. As the borrower, you will receive a preview of the closing costs twice during the loan application process.
The first, known as the “Loan Estimate” must be mailed to you within three business days after you’ve applied for the loan. As its title suggest, this is only an estimate. A second more thorough and exact document known as a the “Closing Disclosure” must be received by you three business days prior to the closing. Both documents are required by law.
The Internet has made us all more savvy consumers, but buying a home certainly isn’t something any of us do every day. For first-time homebuyers, closing costs can seem like complicated cable and cell phone bills—”these incomprehensible charges are a fact of life which I just have to accept.” Now you know it doesn’t have to be that way.