If you're shopping for a home loan, you could see some strange-looking mortgage closing costs. For instance, you might rightly wonder why a lender would charge a courier fee when your documents all came via email.
From the all-inclusive "origination" charge to the dizzying array of miscellaneous "junk" or "garbage" fees, here's what you need to know about minimizing mortgage closing costs.Click to see today's rates (Sep 24th, 2017)
Lenders can be pretty creative when it comes to naming their fees. And many charges are so general that you can't necessarily tell what they are for. For instance:
If your head is spinning, stop worrying. The truth is that it doesn't matter what they call the fees.
Nope, there is no such thing. Probably. But mortgage lenders could call their charges "hamburgers" and it would not matter.
When you shop for a home loan, the bottom line is the only thing that counts. Everything else is distraction from your mission, which is to get the best deal on your home loan.
Just look for "Estimated Closing Costs" on page one of the Loan Estimate disclosure that lenders have to give you within three days of your loan application. If you don't want to apply for a mortgage just to get a Loan Estimate, ask lenders for it when you contact them for quotes.
Ideally, they will provide a real Loan Estimate, which obligates lenders under consumer protection laws. Alternatively, they may supply a "worksheet" or "scenario," which is non-binding and offers less protection.
The second page of the Loan Estimate provides the details about your closing costs. The "Loan Cost" section lists what your lender wants to charge you. The total cost here is completely under the lender's control and should be considered negotiable by you.
"Services You Cannot Shop For" refers to payments to third parties like appraisers and credit bureaus. Because the lender chooses the providers, look these numbers over and make sure they aren't substantially higher than those of other competing lenders.
The "Services You Can Shop For" section includes things like title insurance and escrow services (in states where fees can vary and it's legal to shop around). While many borrowers simply accept the lender's or real estate agent's choice for these providers, you may be able to save a ton by shopping.
For instance, title insurance can add thousands to your costs, but if the house was financed in the last few years, you may be able to snag a discount, or a "short rate." No one else involved in the transaction will bother to inquire, and they won't shop for the lowest premium for you.
Finally, the "Other Costs" part of Page 2 lists items that are not necessarily related to the loan. They are simply costs of the transaction -- for example, tax services and transfer fees, or costs of home ownership, like property taxes and homeowners insurance.
When comparing mortgage rates from competing providers, you can look at the stated interest rate. However, that doesn't tell you what the costs are. You can look at the APR, which helps you compare identical loans with different costs and rates.
However, APR has some real shortcomings for shoppers. To make shopping easy, ask every lender for a quote for a specific rate, and choose the one with the lowest total lender and third party charges.
Alternatively, you can ask for quotes on "no-cost" mortgages and choose the lender with the lowest rate. Fixing one variable makes it much easier to spot the cheapest mortgage.Click to see today's rates (Sep 24th, 2017)
The information contained on The Mortgage Reports website is for informational purposes only and is not an advertisement for products offered by Full Beaker. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position of Full Beaker, its officers, parent, or affiliates.
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2017 Conforming, FHA, & VA Loan Limits
Mortgage loan limits for every U.S. county, as published by Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)