Home buyers can shop for closing services and save money

Dennis Norman

In the past I think closing costs associated with the purchase of a home were pretty much a mystery to many, if not most, home buyers with many not even being sure what they were paying for. Most buyers simply went through the process, paying for closing fees, notary fees, title examination, title insurance, survey, flood letters, courier fees, recording fees, etc. without ever realizing that these fees and costs may vary with other vendors.

January 1st changes went into effect in the RESPA (Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act) which will require lenders to fully disclose all closing costs, including the costs of obtaining a loan as well as estimated costs for title insurance, settlement and other services within three days after a buyer applies for a mortgage. This should make it easier for buyers to see what services they are being provided, what the cost is estimated to be and to have time to shop around to find the best providers of those services at the most reasonable prices. Basically it gives buyers the opportunity to take control of “their deal” and not just “go with the flow” hoping that vendors being selected by your lender, real estate agent and/or title company are providing you with the best service at the best price.
While preparing to do this post I ran across a company that I am not familiar with but have to admit I really like their website and think it could be a great resource for homebuyers. The company is called Closing Corp and their website is Closing.com. Closing.ComHome buyers can go to their website, fill in the address of the property you are buying, answer a few questions and not only get a detailed estimate of their house payments as well as closing costs but also see quotes for various services from local companies (such as title insurance, home warranties, etc) and then print out a report. I entered an address here in St. Louis and got  the following results:
  • 47 title companies listed with prices from 6
  • 10 home warranty companies with prices from 8
  • 28 home inspection companies with prices from 13
  • 17 pest control companies with prices from 3

As I looked over the “quotes” for the various services I found several disclaimers, basically nothing is binding of course, but I do think this gives a buyer a good idea of the range of prices they should expect as well as gives them a list of various vendors in their area they can consider. In addition it provides short explanations of each service such as this description of title insurance which, while it is short, I think it does a decent job of explaining what it is:

Title Insurance protects property owners and lenders from losses that could result from disputes over who actually owns the property. This could include fraud, liens against the property, or errors missed during a title search.

If nothing else the fact that it estimates your monthly mortgage payment for you, including an estimate for property taxes and property insurance, is probably worth the visit to the site.
Authors disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of Closing.Com nor recommendation or warranty, expressed or implied. It is simply an editorial review of the site. Realize that general and generic information from this site or any other like it is just that, general and generic. Consult your real estate professional to assist you in getting information specific to your situation.
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