Use lender credits to pay closing costs

Minneapolis, MN:  The biggest challenge for most home buyers, especially first time home buyers, is coming up with the required down payment.  While most people understand down payment, they are shocked to learn their are mortgage closing costs. Wose yet, is discovering how much closing costs can add up to.

Mortgage loan closing costs cover many items, including appraisal, credit report, state deed taxes, title company costs, title insurance, lender costs, and more.  Plus you also have something known as pre-paid expenses which need to be paid too, including buying your first years home owners insurance policy, and one time pro-rated property taxes, which are based on when property taxes are due, and what month you close on your new home.

While closing costs and pre-paid items are actually separate, it is very common for people to combine both of them together, and simply say ‘closing costs’.

CLOSING COSTS ARE NOT 3%

I hear it day after day after day, that closing costs are around 3% of the purchase price. This generalized statement couldn’t be more wrong!

Closing costs vary based on many factors, including the homes purchase price, state, property taxes, loan program, and the buyers choice of how to pay for them.

This misinformation comes from the fact that conventional loans only allow for a home buyer to roll into the loan closing costs up to 3% of the purchase price.

Many loan closing costs are based on the loan amount, and the rest are the same regardless of the homes price.  For example, standard loan origination costs are 1%.  So 1% of a $100,000 loan is just $1,000, while a $400,000 loan of course equals $4,000.

Items like the appraisal may be the same for both the $100,000 home or the $400,000 home. While the cost is the same for either house, the $400 appraisal fee is 1% of a $40,000 home, but only 0.10% of the $400,000 home.

Another good example are Title Company charges. Standard Title Company closing fee is usually a flat fee, but the required title insurance varies based on purchase price.

HOW TO PAY FOR CLOSING COSTS

Mathmatically, the best way to pay for your loans closing costs will always be to pay cash out-of-pocket. Realistically, especially for first time home buyers, this makes the amount needed out of reach.

Mortgage loan programs always require you bring your down payment, but closing costs can be rolled into the loan a few different way.

  1. Seller paid closing costs
  2. Lender Credit
  3. Combination of both

I dislike the term ‘Seller paid closing costs’, as many people thing the seller is paying it, and therefore it is free. The reality is that while the purchase agreement says the seller is paying, the person actually paying is the buyer. You are just paying over time.

For example, assume the seller has listed the home for $200,000. You make a full priced offer at $200,000, but your offer also asks the seller to pay the maximum conventional loan allowed closing costs of 3% ($6,000).

If the seller says YES, many people think you got closing costs for free. But think about it.  The seller actually netted just $194,000 in their pocket. So you could have made an offer for $194,000 and paid your own closing costs. The seller got $194,000 either way, but you rolled your closing costs into the loan, opting to pay the costs over time, versus up-front today.

Lender credits is another tool. With lender credits, the lender will increase your loans interest rate in exchange for reducing your out-of-pocket closing costs today.  You can choose a small rate increase with a small lender credit, all the way to absolutely no closing costs whatsoever with a much larger rate increase.

You may also see lender credits employed in a different way too.  For example, many lenders will scream things like ‘no lender fee’, or maybe ‘free appraisal’ if you use them. All they are doing is increasing the interest rate a bit to offset normal costs – but not telling you.

The most common one we see is no loan origination options, which will generally increase a 30-year fixed rate loan by 0.25%.

ARE LENDER CREDITS GOOD OR BAD?

Increasing your loans interest rate never sounds good, but does thing make lender credits bad? Think of them as a financing tool, and your personal situation?  Do you have the cash to pay your own closing costs? Maybe you have the money, but would rather use it to improve the home.  Lenders credits might still be a good choice.

Do you not have the money? Then it may be a matter of using lender credits, or not buying the home at all. In this case, a small amount all the way to complete no closing costs via lender credits may be your sole option.

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We lend in MN, WI, and SD.  Equal housing lender. NMLS 274132

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