Ask the Seller to Pay Your Closing Costs

Seller paid closing costs are a great way to minimize your out of pocket cash to close. 3% to 6% (the FHA max) is common.Ask the Seller to Pay Your Closing Costs

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updated: Saturday, October 5, 2019

Closing Costs

Somebody's gotta pay 'em. It might as well not be you.

Many hands are in the cookie jar that is a new mortgage. Appraisers, inspectors, agents, title insurers, escrow companies, insurance companies, credit bureaus; all provide a very necessary piece of a real estate transaction, and all expect to be paid. And don't forget your lender.

Most closing costs are settled at closing and are collected only if/when your loan closes. Appraisals and inspections are often paid upfront, though not always. So what happens when closing day comes? Who pays the check?

Each state is a bit different, but generally, buyers are responsible for certain items. Sellers too. Let's not worry about the seller's side. You're the buyer and this is about planning for YOUR new home purchase.

Typical Buyer's Closing Costs

  • Lender fee / Origination
    Varies from lender to lender. Could be a flat fee or percentage of your loan amount (i.e. origination point).
  • Discount points / rate buydown
    Varies from lender to lender. Fee paid to get a better rate.
  • Appraisal
    Usually $375 to $500 depending on property type, location, and loan program.
  • Inspector
    Lenders typically do not require home inspections, but it is always a good idea to get one. Some loan programs require specific inspections like termite, well, septic, etc...
  • Credit Report
    Credit reports, updates, supplements, etc... will vary, but less than $100 is typical.
  • Title/Escrow Company Fee
    Fees paid to the title company for preparing documents, searching title for liens, closing the loan, etc... Varies widely from state to state.
  • Title Insurance (Lender's Policy)
    Insures the lender against any liens not discovered in the title search should they show up in the future.
  • Title Insurance (Owner's Policy)
    Insures the buyer against any liens not discovered in the title search should they show up in the future. Often paid by the seller.
  • Homeowner's Insurance
    One year premium paid at closing.
  • Escrow / Impound Account
    Not really a cost, but still a very real part of your new mortgage. Establishes an escrow account with your new lender to pay future homeowner's insurance premiums and property taxes.

The seller can pay ALL of these for you, but you have to ask. Conventional loans allow the seller to contribute 3% of the purchase price towards the buyers closing costs. 3% should cover most, if not all, of the costs listed above. If you are buying with an FHA or VA loan, you can ask for more. 4% will almost surely cover everything, however FHA will allow up to 6%. Entering a purchase price into the FHA loan calculator will show you how much you can ask the seller to pay. The VA loan calculator does the same.

Remember, it doesn't hurt to ask. The seller will usually counter offer if you are asking for too much. Also, the seller keeps whatever isn't used, so if you ask for 6% and the costs come to 4%, the seller keeps the remaining 2%.

If you don't negotiate seller paid closing costs into your purchase, you'll be asked to bring the closing cost amount to closing in addition to your down payment. On a $200,000 purchase this can be an additional $6,000 with a conventional loan. Wouldn't you rather use that money to furnish your new home or make improvements?

*Every effort is made to post valid, up to date information. Mortgage guidelines and programs constantly change. Therefore, the content of each post should be viewed and used as a starting point. Please contact us for current guidelines pertaining to this post or for more information.