Mortgage Closing Fees Surge: How to Keep Yours Low

A recent report suggests closing costs on mortgages are skyrocketing, with direct bank fees up nearly 23 percent and third-party fees up more than 47 percent.

First, the sort-of good news. The survey isn't measuring actual fees levied on completed mortgages; instead it measures the so-called good-faith estimates of fees on hypothetical $200,000 mortgages in different markets around the country.

New regulations have made it harder for banks to low-ball estimates, which means consumers can comparison shop more easily and don't have to worry about surprise fees at their closings. While banks are supposed to get as close as they can to the real costs of a mortgage, they are only penalized for going too low, not for overestimating. To be on the safe side, some have taken to showing consumers the worst-case scenario of what their loan might cost.

Anyone shopping for a mortgage these days should ask for a detailed list of fees in their good faith estimate, question anything they don't understand or that seems superfluous, and if possible, have a financial advisor who understands mortgages go over them, as well.