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Home Buyer's Hidden Costs By Jeanette Joy Fisher

Home buyer's who purchase a home without a real estate agent (or sometimes purchase through an inexperienced agent) can find out too late they don't have enough money to close and move.

Top 10 Costs Home Buyers Miss:

1.) Property Taxes and Assessments

Home buyers often need to set up an escrow account with the new mortgage lender. This means that they must pay a portion of taxes upfront. In some states, the seller has already paid the local taxes and this amount must be paid back to the seller at closing. Also, some counties have transfer taxes whenever a property changes hands.

2.) Insurance

Fire insurance or a homeowners insurance policy usually needs to be paid for up front. Although you may be able to get an insurance binder from your company on a payment plan, most mortgage companies require the first year paid during escrow or closing.

3.) Appraisal Fees

Mortgage lenders require appraisals to make sure your property covers your loan amount plus their investment risk. The buyer normally pays between $150-$450 to the appraiser.

4.) Survey Fees

Some lenders require a property survey. You may also want a survey if the property lines are in question. Survey fees vary from $600-$2,500, or more for large parcels.

5.) Septic System Certification

If your new property does not connect to public sewers, you may need a septic clearance for your lender. Often the home seller pays this cost, but you want to make sure you get no hidden charges or surprises.

6.) Water Quality Certification

The same holds true for properties with a well and not public water service. For your own piece of mind, you will want to check the water quality and have this clause as a condition in your purchase contract. Not only do you want to make sure the water quality passes, you want to make sure the well has plenty of flow so you don't run out of water.

7.) Miscellaneous Origination and Loan Fees

Your mortgage lender adds fees for processing your loan, document preparation, underwriting, closing, funding, and sometimes "garbage fees." Check your estimated costs statements and look for hidden fees. Before committing to a lender, shop for your best loan and compare lender's costs.

8.) Association and Maintenance Fees

Most buyers understand that a condo comes with association fees. However, some housing developments also charge maintenance fees. Don't assume that the fees will be nominal. Many condos in California have association fees over $400 per month. Some of these fees need to be paid annually, which means a home buyer needs to pay upfront.

9.) Utility Service Fees

Check your hook up and installation fees for water, gas, electricity, cable or satellite TV, phone, trash, sewer and other services. Sometimes the water department covers the sewer and trash service. These fees quickly add up and you don't want any surprises like a $340 water deposit required by some companies.

10.) Moving Costs

Plan your move before committing to a purchase. Know whether you can move yourself or need to hire professional movers. You may be shocked to find out the costs involved. Ask for referrals of clients and check out moving companies. Prices for truck rental and moving companies vary.

Make sure you have all your purchase and moving costs covered before you make an offer to purchase a home. You don't want to find out when it's too late that you need more money.

Copyright 2005 Jeanette J. Fisher. All rights reserved. (You may publish this article in its entirety with the following author's information with live links only.)


Jeanette Fisher teaches first-time home buyers and beginning real estate investors the six steps to home financing. Free ebook, Credit Tips for Mortgage Financing. http://www.recredithelp.com




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