There are a lot of numbers that get thrown back and forth when buying a home and trying to keep track of all of them can be overwhelming. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, the figures you’re most likely to zero in on are the purchase price, the interest rate and your monthly mortgage payment. But there are other kinds of costs that you’ll need to keep an eye on.
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While some home buying costs are explained up front, others may be buried in the fine print. If you’re not taking the time to learn about the different fees you’ll have to pay, you could be in for a nasty surprise when it’s time to close the deal. Being on the lookout for the following charges can keep you from getting caught off guard.
1. Earnest Money Deposit
When you make an offer on a house, the seller typically expects you to offer up some cash as a sign of good faith. Called earnest money, this deposit is due once you enter into a contract to buy a home and shows that you plan to go through with the purchase.
The amount you’re expected to hand over can vary, but it’s not unusual to pay between 1% and 2% of the purchase price. The money you pay can be applied to your closing costs, so it’s not going to waste. But it’s important to be prepared to hand over a few thousand dollars right off the bat.
2. Escrow Costs
Homeowners have to pay property taxes and that expense, along with the cost of getting the property insured, represents another big chunk of money that you’ll owe at closing. Some lenders will require you to escrow your first year of homeowners insurance premiums and property tax payments as a condition of getting a mortgage.
Depending on how the loan is structured and the lender’s preference, you may be able to roll these costs into the mortgage versus paying them out of pocket. But there’s a downside to doing that. While you won’t have to pay those costs right away, by tacking escrow onto your loan, you could end up paying more money over time as interest accrues.
Try out our property tax calculator.
3. Inspection Fees
Before you can finalize the purchase of a home, the lender will want to make sure it’s in good condition. You or your real estate agent will be responsible for scheduling the required inspections, including a home inspection and a pest inspection. If the property has a septic tank, you’ll also need a separate inspection for that.
While some of the inspection fees may be lumped in with your closing costs, others may need to be paid before the inspection can be completed. A home inspection can run anywhere from $300 to $500. The same goes for a pest inspection, depending on how large the home is. A septic tank inspection can cost another $100 to $200. Altogether, that could be more money than you can afford to cough up.
4. Appraisal Fees
Once you’ve gotten the green light for a mortgage loan, the lender will require a professional appraisal of the property. The appraisal is meant to reassure the bank that the home is worth what they’re lending you and without it, you won’t be able to move forward.
While the appraisal gives you a clear idea of the home’s value, it does come at a cost. Like the various inspections, an appraisal can take another few hundred dollars out of your pocket. Whether you pay this prior to or at closing ultimately depends on the lender. But to be on the safe side, it’s best to be ready to write a check once the appraisal is scheduled.
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Buying a home is a big investment and if you’re not financially prepared, achieving your goal may be difficult. Factoring the costs we’ve mentioned into your budget before you begin house hunting can make the process less of a hassle in the long run.
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