Declining home prices and historically low mortgage interest rates have dominated housing news the last few months. Despite these lows in the housing market, the costs associated with buying a home have increased an average of 8.8 percent, compared to last year. When it comes to closing costs, New York rates number one in the nation. According to Bankrate Inc, New York homebuyers paid an average of $6,183 in 2011 for origination fees and title costs. This represents an 8.9 percent increase over 2010. Texas followed with average closing costs of $4,944.
Either Texas or New York has held the top spot for each of the last five years. The figures apply to a base mortgage of $200,000. The next three states in the top five are Utah - $4,906, California $4,566 (Sana Francisco) Los Angles - $4,406, and Alaska $4327. The five states with the lowest closing cost in the nation are ...Arkansas $3,007, North Carolina - $3,255, Iowa - $3,261, Montana $3,298 and Wisconsin $3,303. The national average for closing cost is $3,741.
Where the Increases Occur
Origination fees rose from a national average of $1,448, to $1,614 (10.3 percent) over 2010. Origination fees consist of processing and underwriting fees. Charges by third-party vendors, such as appraisal, title, survey and postage and courier, increased from$2,262 to $2,456 a 7.9 percent jump. The figures do not include recording fees, homeowners insurance, property taxes or prepaid mortgage interest. The cost for title insurance showed little change over the previous year.
Mortgage lenders justify the increase by citing tighter regulations because of the Franks-Dobb Act and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac increasing the requirements for the loans they purchase. Therefore, lenders are being more diligent about “self-regulating” their industry to minimize mistakes and missing paperwork. In addition, lenders must exercise more care in verifying borrowers’ employment and income.
Lenders point to stricter government regulations to defend the increase costs of buying a home. Borrower must pay more for services lenders claim to have been providing all along. Consumer Federation of America’s housing policy director Barry Zigas states that ascertaining whether the increases come because of stringent regulatory requirements is not easy.
Minimizing Your Mortgage Closing Costs
The survey conducted by Bankrate reveals New York mortgage lenders charge from $700 to $4,000 in mortgage origination fees. In addition, shop and compare fees between lenders. Most borrowers understand the process when it comes to negotiating a lower home price or seeking the lowest mortgage interest rate. Although closing costs include certain fixed expenses, such as appraisal fees and credit reports, borrowers should survey the market to identify lenders with the lowest fees.
Since 1974, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) mandates lenders to disclose all expenses related to real estate purchases and related loan transactions, including mortgage refinance, within three business days of receiving the application. Regulation X, passed in 1992, obligates lenders to disclose any business arrangement between lenders and other parties associated with the transaction.
RESPA’s Good Faith Estimate (GFE) encourages consumers to first shop and compare fees from various lenders before choosing a mortgage. They can not only receive the lowest interest rate and best terms, but realize significant savings on closing costs as well. Gather three or four estimates from mortgage lenders. Do the same for mortgage brokers.
Determine the average cost for closing costs and compare each figure against the average. The industry standard for total settlement costs, which include taxes, should range from 3 to 5 percent of the home price. Flag any GFE that exceeds this range.
A complete analysis must include the mortgage interest rate. Low interest rate mortgages typically have higher costs due to points and other charges. If you plan to stay in your home for many years, a low interest rate mortgage that requires you to pay more in closing costs may present the best option. If you intended to move after a few years, it would be difficult to justify paying two points to obtain a lower mortgage interest rate.