How Much the Homebuying Process Really Costs

Find out what costs you need to save for in addition to a down payment.

Saving for a down payment on a home is a huge step in the homebuying process. A sizable down payment can help with mortgage prequalification or mortgage approval — however, it’s not the only cost associated with buying a home. Many people who are buying a house are surprised to find out that there’s a whole world of fees waiting for them during the process of securing a loan and a deal. The total cost of ownership can be a few thousand or more dollars than prospective buyers might anticipate.

A common question is: How much are closing costs and other fees? From inspections to real estate agent fees, there are a lot of little fees that add up to a lot when you buy a house, so it’s best to be prepared ahead of time. Although most homebuying costs — aside from loan origination fees — can’t be negotiated, some first-time home buyers and seasoned professionals alike will try to get sellers to pay for some of them.

So that you can better figure out your financial planning for buying a home, review the following list of approximate typical costs associated with buying a home. With this list as a starting point, you’ll be able to get a more accurate estimate for how much money you’ll need to close.

Building Wealth

Find Out: When to Make the Leap from Renter to Home Owner

1. Home Inspection: $300 to $500

A home inspection is a vital part in determining the condition of the house; with an inspection you’ll find out whether the home meets state requirements and get a better idea of how much you’re willing to offer. Buyers should ask to see a list of items covered in the house inspection costs before it takes place. This allows time to request any additional areas the home buyers would like inspected.

2. Home Appraisal: $300

Unless you’re paying cash, almost all lenders will require home appraisals. A home appraisal is an educated guess on what the prospective property is worth, which gives the lender an idea of the collateral value. Usually the seller pays for the home appraisal. In the event the buyer agrees to cover the cost, expect to pay around $300.

Read: Is My Credit Score Good Enough to Buy a House?

3. Flood Determination: $20

Lenders will require proof of whether or not the property is located in a special flood hazard area. If the property is determined to be in a flood hazard area, then the lender is required by law to require flood insurance on the property.

Building Wealth

4. Survey: $335 to $650

The survey fee is paid to a professional surveyor who verifies property boundaries. Boundary verification is important as any additions to the home — including fences, driveways, sidewalks or garages that infringe on a neighbor’s property — can be removed without warning. This kind of information can save you a lot of money down the road.

5. Escrow: Cost Contingent on Property and Mortgage

It’s not uncommon to be asked to put down one-sixth — two months’ worth — of property tax and mortgage insurance payments for the year before your loan closes. The lender provides a projection of the annual expenses that will be paid from your escrow account — usually taxes and insurance. Before your loan closes, the lender will estimate the total annual expenses that need to be paid from the escrow account.


6. Lender’s Title Insurance: Cost Varies

Lender’s title insurance is generally required to secure a loan and is designed to protect your lender from problems with the title. This insurance doesn’t protect your equity; it only covers claims that are directly related to the lender’s loan.

Building Wealth

The approximate cost of lender’s title insurance varies by state and provider; it’s generally based on the loan amount, transaction type and coverage type, among other variables.

7. Title Company Title Search: Cost Varies

A title search looks into the background of a property’s title — that is, the document that shows proof of ownership — to determine whether or not it’s free and clear of disputes. Some things a search will look for are delinquent taxes, unpaid liens, undisclosed heirs and other disputes. The title is also important if you’re thinking of selling a house later; you want to ensure the title is clear so it doesn’t affect future sales.

8. Loan Origination Fees: 0.5 to 1 Percent of the Loan Amount

The origination fee is charged by the lender for processing your loan when you buy a home. Generally, loan origination fees are how lenders make money. The fees can include administrative services like completing paperwork, underwriting and processing your loan. Because this fee amount is a percentage based on the loan amount, often borrowers who are taking out bigger loans can negotiate a lower origination fee. The reason for this is that regardless of the loan amount, lenders are still doing the same amount of work.

Building Wealth

Read: 3 Ways to Avoid Paying a Loan Origination Fee for Your Mortgage

9. Homeowners Insurance: $300 or More

Homeowners insurance policies can vary dramatically depending on the type of coverage you choose. But basic coverage will cover property and liability due to things like smoke, theft, falling objects, explosions and fire or lighting. Most homeowners insurance won’t include damage that results from natural disasters like hurricanes or flooding. However, it’s possible to add that optional coverage to your policy. Your first year’s insurance is often paid at closing.

10. Moving Costs: $700

Packing up an entire household and moving it over to a different location can be expensive. On average, Americans paid about $707 in moving costs, according to The price goes up — or down — depending on how much or how little help you require. For people who want full-service movers, the price spikes upward of $1,000, whereas others can get away with spending just a couple hundred bucks.

The Total Cost of Buying a House

The answer the big question, “How much money do I need to buy a house?” is that it depends. There’s no clear-cut number because so many variables are involved — the cost and size of the home, where you live and to where you’re moving, whether you can negotiate any costs and so on. However, this list serves as a rough guide to show home buyers what costs they can expect, in addition to their down payment. On average, these fees can range from $2,000 to $5,000.

About the Author

Natalie Campisi

Natalie Campisi is a Los Angeles-based writer and producer with more than 17 years of experience. She started her career as a journalist, reporting for dailies, the Associated Press and on Capitol Hill. She’s produced podcasts, commercials and online video content for everyone from tech startups to chocolatiers.

Read More

Untitled design (1)
Close popup The GBR Closer icon

Sending you timely financial stories that you can bank on.

Sign up for our daily newsletter for the latest financial news and trending topics.

Please enter an email.
Please enter a valid email address.
There was an unknown error. Please try again later.

For our full Privacy Policy, click here.