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What Are Closing Costs?

Real estate closing costs are the innumerable fees and taxes associated with purchasing and taking ownership of a home.

Real estate closing costs are the innumerable fees and taxes associated with purchasing and taking ownership of a home. Depending on where you live and the complexity of your transaction they can easily add up to thousands of dollars but are usually around 3% to 6% of the purchase price of the house.

Closing costs fall into four categories: first are the mortgage closing costs; these include charges for loan origination, underwriting, documentation and preparation of an escrow account (a safe place to keep the money while the sale process is going ahead). Second are third-party fees. These include charges for title search (finding proof in public records that the seller is the legal owner of the house), title insurance (to guard against error by whoever searched the title), flood certification, value appraisal, termite and other inspections. Third are government fees. These cover city, county and state transfer and mortgage taxes and deed recording. They might also include prepaid property taxes. Lastly are escrow and interest fees, including advance payments into an escrow account to cover homeowner's insurance, real estate taxes, loan interest and private mortgage insurance (if this applies).

With such a long list of potential charges at settlement it is essential that you have some warning of what to expect. Your mortgage lender should supply you with a 'good faith estimate' of all your closing costs within three days of you applying for a loan and a statement of your actual closing costs should be supplied to you at or preferably before settlement.

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