Closing Costs on New Mortgages Up 36.6 Percent

Closing costs jump 36.6 percent over last yearThe average origination and third-party fees on new mortgages are up 36.6 percent over last year. In 2009, the average costs for closing a mortgage totaled $2,739, but that cost is up to $3,741, based on's 2010 Closing Costs Survey.

The biggest difference is in third-party costs for appraisals and title insurance, which rose 47.2 percent. Some of that difference could be in the way lenders are quoting Good Faith Estimates (GFEs). Many include not only lender's title insurance but also buyer's title insurance, which could account for some of the increase. Also, under new rules, lenders can be penalized if the GFE is not within 10 percent of the final cost, so some lenders could be overestimating just to avoid penalties. (There are no penalties for overstating closing costs.)

"The big rise in average closing costs may scare some homebuyers, but it's important to keep things in perspective," says Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for "Increased regulation on lenders' GFEs means more accurate estimates and less expenses popping up for consumers on the back end." Prior to this change, consumers could be hit with hundreds if not thousands of dollars of unexpected charges at the closing table.
Mortgage lenders say their costs have gone up primarily because it is so much more labor-intensive to do each loan. "You're doing a full-blown audit on every file," Brian Koss of the Mortgage Network told He said that in the past, just 10 percent of loans were double-checked after closing. Today, under new Fannie Mae rules called the Loan Quality Initiative, tax returns must be checked with an IRS transcript. Lenders also match Social Security numbers, conduct fraud checks and pull credit reports twice -- once at application and a second time just before closing.

So where is it most expensive to close? New York topped the list, followed by Texas, Utah, California and Alaska. New York's closing tab for a $200,000 purchase mortgage was an average of $5,623. The winner for lowest closing costs was Arkansas, at $3,007. Rouding out the bottom five: North Carolina ($3,255), Iowa ($3,261), Montana ($3,298) and Wisconsin ($3,303). You can see how your state compared at, where you'll also find a detailed breakdown of the lender's origination fees and third-party fees.

Comparing New York to Arkansas, some big differences jump off the page. New York has a commitment fee of $700, which doesn't apply in Arkansas. Title search and title insurance are another major difference. In New York, the average fee for title search and title insurance is $2,925; in Arkansas, it's $1,011.

The good news is that you can shop for third-party providers if your quotes on the GFE are high. That includes a title insurance company, settlement attorney and a person to do the survey. The biggest savings are likely to come by shopping for title insurance. One place to start online is CEO Tim Dwyer has seen traffic pick up, he told "[The number of] people shopping for title insurance has, plain and simple, increased."

BankRate's survey only includes origination and third-party fees, it does not include property taxes, recording fees, homeowner's insurance and prepaid items, such as a partial month of mortgage interest. It also doesn't include discount points. Only points related to origination are included.

Lita Epstein has written more than 25 books including "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Improving Your Credit Score" and "The 250 Questions Everyone Should Ask About Buying Foreclosures."

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