If you’re on the way to purchasing a home and debating your financial situation, let’s look at some of the costs you should expect once you get under contract. This may help you determine if it’s the right time for you to buy or find other sources to help pay for the upfront costs associated with purchasing a house.
Earnest Money Deposit: Your First Out-of-Pocket Cost
Once you start the process of submitting an offer on a home, there are out-of-pocket expenses that you’ll have to be ready for immediately. The earnest money deposit is typically about 1% of the purchase price in the Colorado real estate market, so on a $400,000 home you should expect needing $4,000 in a bank account with immediate access to the money (check, wire, cashier’s check, etc). Although the contract allows for this deposit to be made after the offer is accepted, it’s typical that the seller will want your funds in an account within a few days of a signed contract (usually held at a title company or real estate office in an escrow account). The good news is, this money is truly a deposit and as long as you meet your deadlines and eventually close, you can apply these funds towards your downpayment or other closing costs. In other words, you’ll potentially get the money back but you’ll need the funds available to deposit at the time of your accepted contract.
Home Inspection: It’s More than Just a One Day Event
Your due diligence and inspection period allows for you to do inspections of any kind on the property as long as you’re not negatively altering or damaging the property. This means not only can you do a typical home inspection (in which you hired a home inspector to do an inspection of systems, mechanicals, exterior and interior condition, etc), you can hire contractors for specific issues and inspections. For instance, you may want to have the sewer line scoped, engineering reports of the structural integrity, or substance testing for things like mold or presence of drug residue. Depending on the home inspection company, they can often do testing for things like radon gas levels but there is usually an additional charge. Currently, rates for a home inspection vary depending on the size, age, and other factors of the house, but expect about $400-$500 and then additional items like radon gas and sewer line scoping will run another $150+ each. So, this “inspection amount” can change dramatically based on your concerns and curiosities as a buyer, but it’s not hard to reach nearly $1,000 just for basic inspections. And keep in mind, these contractors and inspectors are paid when the service is rendered so it is a direct out-of-pocket cost while you’re under contract. Also, there are other things that won’t necessarily cost you money but you should definitely consider researching as part of your home inspection period.
Property Survey or Improvement Location Certificate (ILC)
It’s possible that either the lender or title company may require a land survey or ILC. Typically, these are due at time of service and estimated starting cost would be $800+ for this type of service. Usually if the home is in a neighborhood with lot and block, this won’t be a required item. However, during your contract period, you can certainly choose to do this yourself so you are aware of the property boundaries, especially if you’re considering building a new structure, putting up fencing, or expanding the current home.
Downpayment on Your Loan
When you first start the process of searching for a home, you’ll talk with a lender about getting a loan to help pay for the purchase (unless you’re buying with cash). The lender will help find the best type of loan for your situation and qualifications (VA, FHA, Conventional, Jumbo, USDA, etc) and unless you have VA benefits from the military, your loan will probably have a minimum of 3.5% down (FHA) but probably more like 5% down (or more). Based on the type of loan, intended use of property, and other factors this can be 20-25% down. So, with a purchase price of $400,000 you could be looking at $100,000 as a down payment for the loan, and you’ll still have closing costs in addition to that amount. More money down can also reduce your monthly payments, decrease your interest rate, and waive the need for mortgage insurance. Make sure you talk with an experienced real estate agent and your mortgage lender to make sure you understand the entire package and what your monthly payment will be with principle, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI).
Depending on your offer, a portion or all of your closing costs can be paid for by the seller. However, it’s not as typical in a seller’s market as it directly affects their bottom line. So, assuming your paying your own closing costs this will be a collection of fees at closing in addition to your purchase price and loan downpayment, minus any credits you’re receiving. Closing costs include a variety of processing and document fees, lender escrowing funds for things like homeowners insurance and property taxes, appraisal fees, title company fees, recording and document fees, and any administrative fees charged from the real estate company.
Moving Into Your Home
Keep in mind, these expenses aren’t accounting for the setup of your new home, including things like buying furniture, doing landscaping, basement finishes, interior paint and flooring, or simply maintenance issues that might have come up during your inspection. If you can, start putting money away in a separate bank account as an maintenance fund to pay for large expenses like replacing a roof, driveway, exterior painting, tree removal, flooring updates, etc. Ask your agent first when doing these type of updates to help discover if there are ways to save money and for a list of recommended companies.