The process of closing on a home can seem lengthy and complex if it’s your first time buying or selling a house. There are several costs and fees required to close on a home, and while it’s up to the individuals to decide who covers what costs, there are some conventions to follow.
In this article, we’re going to talk about closing costs for selling a house and signing on a mortgage. We’ll discuss who pays what, and whether there is room for negotiation within the various fees and expenses.
But first, let’s talk a little bit about what closing costs are and what to expect when you start the process of buying or selling a home.
Closing costs, simplified
If you’re just now entering the real estate market, the good news is you can often estimate your closing costs based on the value of the property in question. You can ask your real estate agent relatively early on in the process for a ballpark figure of your costs.
Closing costs will vary depending on the circumstances of your sale and the area you live in. In some cases, closing costs can be bundled into your mortgage, such as in “No Closing Cost Mortgages.” However, avoiding having to deal with closing costs often comes at the expense of a slightly higher interest rate.
If you are planning to buy a house and have recently applied for a mortgage, laws require that your lender sends you an estimate of your closing costs within a few days of your application.
Now that we know how closing costs work, let’s take a look at who plays what.
Buyer closing costs
In terms of the sheer number of closing costs, buyers tend to have the most to deal with. Fortunately, your real estate agent will help you navigate these costs and simplify the process.
They can range from two to five percent of the cost of the sale price of the home. However, be sure to check with your lender for the closest estimate of your closing costs. It’s a good idea to shop around for mortgage lenders based on interest rates as well as closing costs charged by the lender.
Here are some of the costs you might be asked to pay as a home buyer:
Prepaid interest or discount points
Home inspection fee
Insurance and Escrow deposits
Seller Closing Costs
While the seller pays a larger amount of closing costs, sellers still have obligations at closing that can be just as expensive. The biggest expense for sellers is to pay the real estate commission. Commission usually falls in the vicinity of 6% of the sale price of the home. This covers the commission of both the seller’s and the buyer’s real estate agents.
The main takeaway? Buyers and sellers both share the burden of closing costs. While the buyer has more expenses to take care of, the seller pays for the largest costs.
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Shopping for a house is a high-stakes game. If you’re a first-time buyer, it can be difficult to gauge the value of various components and features of a home. Appraisals are designed for just this reason.
However, an appraisal is a subjective tool to determine a rough estimate. Furthermore, there are a number of things you can’t learn from an appraisal--such as how convenient the home would be for your work commute.
In this article, we’re going to help you, the homebuyer, determine the true value of a home as it would mean to you in your everyday life. Read on for tips on finding out the value of that home you’ve been dreaming of and deciding whether it’s really the best home for your budget.
Appraisals are a baseline
When lenders are in the process of approving your home loan, they’ll want to decide whether the home you’re buying is worth the amount you’re paying. To achieve this, they’ll typically hire a third-party appraiser.
Find out from your lender which appraiser they use and read their online reviews. This will ensure that they’re a trustworthy source of information. Also be sure to check that the appraiser is certified and that they work with a diverse range of clientele (not just your lender!).
Since you’ll likely be paying the appraisal fee as part of your closing costs, make sure you’re happy with the appraisal and appraiser.
Key appraisal factors
After the appraisal, consider getting a second opinion or inspection of any of the key components of your home that may impact the appraisal. Some of these factors include:
The roof, HVAC system, and septic systems
The energy-efficiency of the home
The current market value in the area
The general upkeep of the home--a few cosmetic problems shouldn’t affect the home value much, but serious neglect can cause long-lasting and expensive issues like mold, water damage, pest invasion, and more
What an appraisal can’t tell you
Now that we’ve discussed the nuts and bolts of home value, we have to venture into what value means to you and your family. You’ll need to ask yourself a series of questions, and some of them won’t have a cut-and-dry answer.
First, how well does this home fit into the work life of you and your spouse? Will it mean a shorter commute, and therefore lower transportation costs and more free time? Putting a dollar value on an extra thirty minutes not spent in traffic can be difficult, but it’s a worthwhile exercise to take part in.
Furthermore, does the house have features that will make it a better asset in years to come? Energy-efficiency, proximity to in-demand schools, businesses, etc., can all be selling points for future buyers that are willing to pay more for your home.
Using a combination of a certified appraisal and some introspection, you should be able to come to a confident conclusion as to the value of the home as it means to you and your family.
“Short sales” may have one of the most deceiving names in real estate. Any client who is undertaking the purchase of a short sale property will ask, “Why is this taking so long?” Short sales generally happen due to lapsed payments on a mortgage. In the short sale, the owners take a loss on the property, but it saves them from being foreclosed on by the bank. Many of these sales are circumstantial by divorce, or a sudden change in job. The seller asks the bank to take less money than the amount owed on the house in a short sale transaction.
If You’re Buying A Short Sale Property
If you have made an offer and the seller accepts it, your dealings are far from over in a short sale. The seller’s bank needs to approve the sale. Since the bank is losing money in the deal, this is where the hold up can be in the entire transaction.
The First Step
The seller’s bank must review the short sale package first. The seller needs to submit a complete picture of their finances to the lender. The seller’s credit score will also be reviewed. A bank would not approve a short sale if, let’s say, the seller happened to have a lot of extra cash just sitting in a bank account. The lender needs to protect themselves.
The listing agent should be on top of all of the paperwork that should be done in order to have the transaction approved. As a buyer, you’ll appreciate a good short sale listing agent.
Make Sure Everything Is In Order
There’s a lot of paperwork to sign in order to get a house. There’s even more paperwork to sign in order to secure the purchase of a short sale. If just one page of the documents are missing or one signature is left unsigned, the entire process can be slowed down even more. As a buyer, you should confirm that all the required documents have been signed and received.
Another problem that can occur is that documents quickly become outdated. Bank and other financial statements are a good example of this. By the time paperwork is ready to go through the lender, last month’s bank statement could be completely outdated. The lender will then need an updated statement, holding up the process even more. The seller and agent need to be ready for these circumstances. The faster the lender is responded to, the smoother the process will go.
Remember You’re Working With Two Banks
When you’re purchasing a home that’s a short sale, you’ll need to deal with two banks- your lender and the bank handling the short sale. Be mindful of the timelines that each bank has. If you aren’t, you could be approved hours too late to buy the property, leaving you and the seller to start from scratch.
Buying a short sale is risky because there is always a greater chance the sale will fall through or succumb to foreclosure due to some kind of circumstances beyond the buyer or the seller’s control. If you have the right realtors on both sides of the table, the process of buying a short sale should go as smoothly as can be expected.
Whether you’re bringing home a new puppy or adopting an adult dog, your new 4-legged friend is sure to be a part of the family. Just as you would when bringing home a new baby, you’ll want to make preparations to your space for both you and your dog’s safety. You don’t want to overlook anything and then have you or your pet get hurt. As a rule of thumb: Anything that you would protect a baby from you should protect a dog from. These dangers include:
- Prescription medications
- Small parts that can be ingested
- Cleaning supplies
- Hazardous houseplants
- Steep stairways
Keep your furry friend healthy and save yourself from costly vet bills by taking precautions. Simple measures can make a big difference. Safety items that you can use to help protect both you and your pet are:
- Power strip covers
- Locks for cabinets
- Keep pills, candy, and chemicals on high shelves that can’t be reached
- Cord wranglers
These little devices can prevent your dog from chewing or getting into hazardous things. It’s also a good idea to protect dogs from steep falls on stairways and decks by blocking certain areas off. Since many dogs don’t know what to keep out of their snouts, you want to think like a dog and know that if they can chew it, they will!
Keep Your Dog Out Of The Trash
Dogs tend to like to see what they can find in the trash. If you get a trashcan that can’t be accessed by dogs, you won’t need to worry. A hidden trashcan in a cabinet or island can help to alleviate this problem. You can also get a can with a lid that can’t be easily popped off.
Keep The Dog’s Access To A Minimum
If your dog is home alone all day while you’re at work you may want to close doors or put up gates in order to restrict the dog to a certain area of the house. This way, the dog will know his place and won’t be able to cause any kind of damage.
Keep Clutter To A Minimum
Clutter is dangerous to both humans and dogs alike. If you know a dog is bound to chew things, put it away! Keeping floors and pathways clean also protects both you and your pet from tripping. Staying organized is also a positive for everyone in the house.
If you always think with safety in mind when you have a dog, you’ll keep both you and your pet safe in your home the whole year through.