Buying a home for the first time is a major milestone, one that comes with a long-term financial commitment as well as some initial costs. Before you buy, learn about these out-of-pocket expenses and plan to save for them alongside your down payment.
What Should You Expect
Once you have found your perfect home and are ready to buy, it is time to crunch the numbers. Typically, there are upfront fees that you will need to pay as part of the purchase. These fees will vary by situation and type of mortgage program but will likely include home inspection fees and property appraisals.
These fees are usually rolled into the closing costs, which are costs you take care of at closing, that you pay as a buyer. On average, closing costs can range from 2% to 5% of your total home purchase, according to Credit Karma. This amount does not include your down payment and other possible lender fees.
Types of Fees Charged
Mortgage lenders need to have an accurate description of the property before they can decide to fund your home loan. This is done through services such as home inspections and appraisals, whose results will show the condition of the property. Here is more detailed information about them:
- Appraisal Fees: Home appraisals are required by the lender to validate the home’s value and to ensure a reasonable price is being asked for the home. This fee, which can range from $600 to $2,000 in California, is paid to an impartial third-party company that will conduct the appraisal. The appraisal fee is usually paid by the buyer unless it is negotiated beforehand for the seller to pay for it. The appraisal cost will depend on the size of the home, its location and the amount of property research needed by the appraiser before a final value report is issued.
- Home Inspection Fees: A home inspection is done to ensure the home is in good physical condition and that there aren’t any hidden issues or major repairs needing to be done before the purchase is completed. The buyer is responsible for paying for the home inspection, which ranges anywhere from $300 to $450. The cost may vary depending on the location, age, and size of the home.
If the inspection notes that repairs are needed, the buyer can negotiate with the seller to deduct the cost of the work from the home’s price or request that the seller make the repairs before closing. When looking for a home inspector, shop around to find one with a reasonable rate for your home market.
- Earnest Money: Earnest money, also known as a good faith deposit, is another out-of-pocket expense when buying a home. It’s used to show the buyer's commitment to purchase the home. The amount of earnest money can range from 1% to 3% of the home purchase price.
These funds go to a third-party escrow company and are held until the transaction is complete. The funds are then applied to the down payment, which will reduce the amount of cash needed to close.
- Home Warranty: Another expense you may face is a home warranty. This type of insurance provides discounted repair and replacement service for items such as a home furnace, HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems. Some home warranty plans also cover major appliances such as washers, dryers, and refrigerators.
While a warranty isn’t necessary to complete the home purchase, it can save you money if these items need to be replaced due to the age of the home. A home warranty plan can cost from $275 – $1,425 per year and can be paid upfront or in installments. A home warranty does not replace a homeowners' insurance policy, which covers damages to the home caused by fires, hail, property crimes and certain types of water damage.
- Other Fees: You may also encounter other fees that you will need to pay upfront. These include a credit report fee, a title search fee, a loan origination fee, and a homeowners’ association fee, if the property is part of an HOA. Remember, you will have to pay annual property taxes as well as obtain homeowner’s insurance on your property.
Save For These Fees
Now that you know a little more about the out-of-pocket expenses you may face, it is time to start saving for them. If you are already saving for a down payment, include additional funds to cover these costs. Having these funds available upfront will also help lessen the sticker shock that you may feel when reviewing your loan documents.
Be mindful that each home purchase transaction is unique, and you may be faced with additional upfront fees. For example, you may need to add private mortgage insurance to your loan if you have less than a 20% down payment. You may also face start-up fees for the utilities in your home.
How TCU Can Help
You can trust Travis to make your home-buying experience easy, convenient, and fast. Our team of home loan experts will walk you through the entire lending process, so you will know exactly where you are and what to expect. If you are not ready to buy, we can help you plan your savings strategy for your future home purchase.
Visit our mortgage hub to get started on your path toward homeownership. If you are already a homeowner, we can help you refinance your loan or use your home equity for home improvement projects, to consolidate bills or for other uses.