Louise Lingerman's Blog
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.
Everyone talks about saving the planet these days, and it's good to do your part, but it's even better when your earth-friendly landscaping can keep that other all-important green safely in the bank. Here are some useful tips that manage to be both kinds of "green living," keeping your wallet fat and your yard gorgeous.
Bushes, Trees, and Shrubbery
Trees can serve a variety of purposes in your landscaping. If you’re planning on staying in a property for a while, you can plant young saplings of fast-growing trees in strategic locations, and as they grow, they will provide shade and windbreaks. Go for trees with full leafy branches and plant them near windows and on the southern, eastern and western sides of your home to shade them during the summer, keeping down your cooling bills. Deciduous trees lose their leaves before the winter, which allows that same suns warmth in, keeping down your heating bills.
If you reside in a windy location, a stand of evergreen trees can be the perfect windbreak. Blocking the wind from your house reduced the extra chill caused by windy winter storms and can help chip away at those heating costs as well. If you get dense enough foliage, you can block up to eighty percent of the wind. Try to plant two or even three rows where you can for the best protection.
Bushes also create useful shade. Planting them around your air conditioning unit helps it stay cooler and can increase efficiency up to 10% which goes a long way towards reducing your overall costs. You need to keep the inner side of these bushes well-trimmed and out of the direction of the vents, so leave at least a three-foot gap and plan for shrubs tall enough to shade the whole space.
Grass and Other Ground Cover Options
Open flat areas great places for snow to settle and create blank white reflective fields. Those "snowfields" reflect sunlight onto your home and increase the general radiant heat effect of the winter sun, helping to heat your home cost-free. In the summer, those same flat areas allow heat to dissipate in the summer, keeping your home cooler in those hottest of months. Keeping your landscaping elements low or spaced out can increase your opportunities for breezes in hot climates.
In more cold climates, stick to the lighter ground covering like stone and concrete that will reflect heat into your home even when not covered in snow. In warmer areas or areas with definitively warmer months, stick to darker ground coverings like grass, mulch, dark stone and wood chips which absorb heat all day and then release throughout the cool of the evening and overnight.
Talk to your local real estate agent about the best local landscapers. They will be able to help you plan the most energy efficient and beautiful garden.
So, the new home has the perfect yard, layout, number of bathrooms, even the right roofline, but you hate the bathroom or kitchen cabinets. Don't give up just yet. You have some options to update your cabinets without completely tearing apart and replacing the kitchen, and you can even skip sanding them down. Welcome to the miracle of "Chalk Paint."
What is “Chalk Paint”?
The original and only paint really called “chalk paint” was created and trademarked by Annie Sloane. Its widely recognized as a top choice by furniture and cabinet professionals. This original pain allows you to get that “shabby chic” look on furniture and cabinets without refinishing them first. Its major downside is the price. To get the name brand “Annie Sloan Chalk Paint” (ASCP), you will be out nearly forty dollars a quart.
This paint is actually a mixture of paint with other chalky substances like powdered gypsum (plaster of Paris) and allows you to refinish a cabinet without sanding or priming it first. After painting, your cabinets or furniture will have a chalky finish until you complete the process by finishing applying a high-grade wax that leaves the cabinets with a softly glowing finish.
Does it Work?
The developers of the process absolutely swear by it, and they've drawn a large group of devotees. You can find a useful variety of tutorials online including everything from heavily weathered to mildly distressed or even completely smooth. You aren't just stuck with the original brand though. The popularity of the process has given rise to several other name brand options including CeCe Caldwell’s non-toxic natural mineral pigments. A big plus for CeCe’s paints is their eco-friendly ingredients that are especially safe for pets and children.
How About an Affordable Alternative?
Wary of the paint cost? You have multiple options there as well. You can make any latex paint a chalk-style paint by using Webster's chalky paint powder. They offer a wide range of tutorials and instructions to create different accents and layering effects. This combo paint can even work for painting on metal! If you want the ease of a single product, check out your local home improvement or paint store for some less expensive options. Professionals have experienced a wide range of results with these paints, so do your research and test on a single cabinet or door before you do the whole kitchen.
If you're worried about the kitchen in the home of your dreams or worried about your kitchen bringing down the cost of your home, talk to your real estate agent about the best kitchen options for your home.
Buying a house should be a worry-free experience. Yet problems may come up that prevent a property buyer from achieving the optimal results. Lucky for you, we're here to help you quickly identify and address various homebuying hurdles.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you minimize stress as you navigate the homebuying journey.
1. Plan for the Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios
An informed homebuyer should have no trouble enjoying a worry-free property buying experience. In fact, this buyer will understand the best- and worst-case scenarios and know exactly what to do – even in a stressful homebuying situation.
In the best-case scenario, a homebuyer will instantly find his or her dream house, submit an offer to purchase this residence and receive an immediate "Yes" from a seller. Then, this buyer can finalize a home purchase and move into his or her new residence.
On the other hand, the worst-case scenario likely will force a homebuyer to miss out on the opportunity to acquire his or her ideal residence. This scenario may involve a failure to agree to terms with a seller due to many potential homebuying problems.
Homebuyers will want to do everything they can to avoid the worst-case scenario. Fortunately, if you learn about the housing market, you can gain the insights you need to plan ahead for the property buying journey. And as a result, you can increase the likelihood of finding and buying your dream house in no time at all.
2. Get a Mortgage
Let's face it – purchasing a home is your dream, but you probably don't have the necessary finances to buy a house on your own. Therefore, you may need to get home financing before you can make your homeownership dream come true.
Applying for a mortgage may seem stressful, but lenders are happy to help you in any way they can. If you consult with multiple banks and credit unions, you can review a variety of home financing options.
Don't hesitate to ask questions as you complete a mortgage application too. If you address your mortgage concerns and questions with a home financing professional, you can alleviate the stress commonly associated with applying for a mortgage.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is a homebuying expert who can respond to any concerns or questions that you may have. If you collaborate with a real estate agent, you can get the help you need to minimize stress at each stage of the property buying journey.
Typically, a real estate agent will learn about you and your homebuying goals and help you plan accordingly. He or she will keep you up to date about available houses in your preferred cities and towns and set up home showings. And if you find a house that you want to purchase, a real estate agent will help you submit a competitive property buying proposal.
Remove stress from the homebuying journey – use the aforementioned tips, and you can reap the benefits of a worry-free homebuying experience.
Finding a mortgage lender should be easy, particularly for homebuyers who want to purchase a high-quality residence without having to worry about spending too much. However, many mortgage lenders are available nationwide, and the sheer volume of lenders can make it difficult to choose the right one.
Lucky for you, we're here to help you streamline the process of selecting the ideal lender.
Now, let's take a look at three tips that homebuyers can use to accelerate the process of choosing the perfect lender.
1. Know Your Credit Score
Your mortgage interest rate may vary based on your credit score. As such, you should learn your credit score before you begin your search for the right lender. This will enable you to boost your credit score if necessary – something that may help you get a preferred mortgage interest rate.
You are eligible for one free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Request a copy of your credit report, and you can find out your credit score and map out your search for the ideal mortgage lender accordingly.
2. Meet with Several Mortgage Lenders
There is no shortage of mortgage lenders in cities and towns around the country. Therefore, you should allocate the necessary time and resources to meet with several credit unions and banks to explore all of your mortgage options.
Each lender can provide details about fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages, how these mortgages work and other pertinent mortgage information. This information can help you make an informed decision about a mortgage.
In addition, don't hesitate to ask questions when you meet with a mortgage lender. If you obtain plenty of information from a mortgage lender, you'll be able to understand the pros and cons of various mortgage options and make the best choice possible.
3. Review a Mortgage Closely
A mortgage may enable you to secure your dream residence, but it is important to understand all of the terms and conditions associated with a mortgage before you select a lender.
For example, if you decide to purchase a condo, your mortgage might only cover the costs of your property. Meanwhile, you still may be responsible for condo homeowners' association fees that total hundreds of dollars each month, so you'll need to budget properly.
Of course, you should feel comfortable working with a mortgage lender as well. The ideal mortgage lender should be available to answer your concerns and questions at any time and help you stay on track with your monthly mortgage payments.
If you need extra assistance as you consider the mortgage lenders in your area, you can reach out to a real estate agent for additional support. This housing market professional can provide insights into mortgage interest rates and may even be able to connect you with the top local lenders.
Take the guesswork out of finding the right mortgage lender – use these tips, and you can move one step closer to getting the financing you need to buy your dream residence.