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Establishing Your Budget for Home Purchase- Step 2

Closing Costs and the Total Expense of Homeownership

If you're accustomed to renting, you understand that your monthly rent payment is just one component of your overall expenses. Similarly, when buying a home, the sale price is only a part of the total cost. Beyond the down payment, there are inevitable closing costs associated with a home sale.

Closing costs serve as a comprehensive term encompassing a diverse array of fees disbursed to every professional engaged in the sale. The specific fees involved in a home sale can vary significantly from state to state. Below is a breakdown of the most prevalent closing costs:

Lender-Related Fees:

  1. Application Fee: Charged by the lender to process your application, including expenses for a credit check or appraisal.

  2. Escrow Deposit: A deposit for your escrow account.

  3. Homeowners’ Insurance: Covers potential damages to your home, with the first year's premium often paid at closing. The cost varies based on property type and location.

  4. Lender’s Policy Title Insurance: Provides assurance to the lender regarding your home ownership and the validity of the mortgage. It also safeguards the lender against potential title issues.

  5. Mortgage Discount Points: An upfront interest payment made to the lender in exchange for a reduced interest rate. Each point equals one percent of your loan amount.

  6. Origination Fee: Covers the lender’s administrative costs and is typically 1% of the total loan amount.

  7. Prepaid Interest: Some lenders may require prepayment of accrued interest between closing and the first mortgage payment.

  8. Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): If your down payment is below 20% of the home’s purchase price, PMI is usually required.

  9. Property Tax: Lenders may request payment of property taxes within 60 days of the home purchase.

  10. Underwriting Fee: Covers overhead and administrative costs incurred by the lender.

Fees to Other Professionals:

  1. Appraisal: Encompasses the cost incurred by the appraisal company to ascertain the fair market value of the home.

  2. Closing Fee: Compensation for the title or escrow company overseeing the closing as an impartial entity in your home purchase.

  3. Home Inspection: Conducted to verify the property's condition and provide recommendations for any necessary repairs.

  4. Recording Fees: Charged by your city or county recording office to maintain updated public land records.

  5. Title Company Search Fee: Payment to the title company for conducting a search of the property's records, ensuring that no other claims exist.

  6. Transfer Taxes: Taxes paid when the title transfers from the seller to the buyer.

Evaluate Your Financial Situation

Now that you have a basic understanding of typical closing costs, it's time to assess your financial position to determine the suitable home purchase within your means. This evaluation involves:

  1. Calculating Monthly Housing Expenses: Consider your current monthly housing expenditures and contemplate how much flexibility you have for additional expenses. Keep in mind ongoing costs like maintenance and repairs, which can amount to $3,000 or more annually. Factor in the possibility of a homeowners association fee.

  2. Determining Gross Annual Income and Monthly Debt: Your gross annual income encompasses your earnings before taxes, including wages, salary, commission, overtime pay, retirement funds, pensions, welfare benefits, child support payments, and investments. When estimating homeownership costs, it's recommended not to exceed 30% of your monthly income.

  3. Assessing Debt-to-Income (DTI) Ratio: Calculate your debt-to-income ratio, which represents the percentage of your income allocated to monthly debts. Common monthly debts include car payments, student loans, and credit cards. Lenders use your gross annual income and DTI to determine your interest rate and borrowing capacity.

Securing Adequate Funds for Down Payment and Closing Costs

Are your savings sufficient for a down payment and associated closing costs when considering purchasing a home? While a 20% down payment is a conventional practice, there are alternatives for homebuyers with varying down payment capabilities, ranging from 3% to 0%.

Government-insured loans, such as FHA, USDA, and VA loans, offer options for homebuyers to purchase with little to no down payment. While these loans have specific eligibility criteria, they provide opportunities for those with limited savings or a lower credit score. While it's advisable to have ample funds for the down payment and closing costs, many homebuyers explore alternative options that may suit their financial situation.

Evaluating Your Credit Score

Understanding your credit score is crucial in determining the size of the mortgage you can secure. A mortgage, being a secured loan, implies that the lender, usually a bank, has ownership rights over your home until the mortgage is fully paid. Familiarizing yourself with your credit score also aids in estimating your potential interest rate. You can access your credit history at no cost through

Assessing Your Potential Interest Rate

Understanding interest rates is crucial when it comes to repaying your mortgage. Changes in interest rates can impact your mortgage payment, especially if you plan to borrow a substantial amount, influencing both your loan and overall purchasing power.

Several factors influence your interest rate, including home location, credit score, home price, loan amount, down payment, loan term, loan type, and interest rate type. Even a small adjustment in your interest rate can translate to significant savings over the mortgage's lifespan. Strive to secure the lowest interest rate possible by thoroughly comparing offers from different lenders.

Moreover, interest rates play a role in shaping the overall market sentiment. Market shifts in either direction can create a sense of urgency among both buyers and sellers. Utilizing online tools can assist in estimating your mortgage interest rate. By inputting your credit score and the intended location of your home purchase, you can gain insights into potential interest rates.

Estimating Your Annual Property Taxes

While property taxes vary by city, it's essential to obtain a general understanding. Conducting a quick online search can reveal municipal property tax rates. The national average hovers just over $2,000 per year.

Utilizing a Mortgage Calculator for Preliminary Estimation

Armed with the details mentioned earlier, you can employ a mortgage calculator to project your potential monthly payment.


Consider seeking prequalification for a home loan before delving into a serious home search. While prequalification doesn't guarantee mortgage approval, it serves as a beneficial starting point.

When you opt for prequalification, you receive an initial estimate of your borrowing capacity based on the financial information you provide, including a credit check. Beyond the estimate, prequalification aids in understanding various mortgage options.

The prequalification process offers insights into the affordability of homes, considering factors like your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, and down payment amount, all of which influence your interest rate. By obtaining prequalification early in the process, you gain valuable information that can enhance your likelihood of securing loan approval at the most favorable rate.



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