Save Thousands on Closing Costs

This is the fee some title agents charge to analyze the results of the title search done at the courthouse. They look for liens, judgments and ownership disputes that may hurt you or the lender later on. Many title professionals consider this just an extension of the abstract or title search and charge nothing. Others consider it a separate function. Again, shop around for the best deal.

Title Insurance Binder: $0-$50

Title insurance is provided by big national insurance companies. Title agents are generally small, local firms. The title insurance binder is the insurance company's promise to provide title coverage once the sale is complete. It is prepared by the local title agent, who acts as a broker for that insurance company. Some title agents include it in the cost of the title search or title exam.

(Title) Document Preparation: $0-$100

The lender prepares the bulk of the documents required to close a loan and buy a home, but title agents prepare some too. Some charge for this, many include it under other line items.

Notary Fees: $7-$20

Title agents must get some documents notarized for you. Most have an in-house notary but still pass along the cost to you. Ask how many pages had to be notarized and the price per page. You may be able to negotiate.

Release of Lien Fee: $0-$100

This is the fee for getting the county to change the records so the old homeowner and old lender are no longer listed as owners. Some title agents include this service under another heading. Others list it separately so you know exactly what you're getting. Good title agents often complain that the bad apples in their industry charge for this service but never do it. That leaves multiple ownership records in place for the same property.

Attorney's Fee:

This should be the same as the fee called "settlement" or "closing" fee. If a settlement attorney performs your closing, they may list this service under "attorney's fees" instead.

Courier Fee: $0-$100

Title agents sometimes hire a courier to transport your documents. However, many "estimate" this fee rather than charging you exactly what they were charged. Others charge for a courier service even though they didn't actually use one. Ask for receipts.

(Title) Administrative Fee:

Some title agents lump document preparation and courier fees into one category and call it an "administrative fee."

Title Insurance: Loan amount multiplied by 0.0250 for lender's coverage. Loan amount multiplied by 0.003 for lender's and homeowner's coverage.

Title insurance protects you and the lender in case something was missed during the title search. For example, if the county misspelled a name, somebody with a claim to your property might not show up during the title search. Lenders require you to buy a "lender's" policy to protect their interests in the property and many people purchase a homeowner's policy to protect themselves as well. The formulas above are very rough guidelines of what you can expect to pay. In fact, I just bought my second home, and by shopping around and playing several title companies against each other, I saved $1,200 on my title insurance.

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