Most people focus on current mortgage interest rates when shopping for a home loan. Interest rates are certainly important, but they do not represent the only expense associated with financing a home. When you are making plans to purchase a new home, it is important to consider the big picture of all the fees associated with getting a mortgage, rather than focusing solely on interest rates.

Before you can decide just how much house you can afford to purchase, you need to look at the mortgage fees so that you will have a clear understanding of all the expenses involved. Many factors can impact the total amount of money you need to borrow, as well as the final out-of-pocket requirement for your monthly payment.

Down Payment

Most home buyers will be required to make a down payment in order to be considered for mortgage loan approval. The amount of money an individual is required to put down may vary significantly based on a variety of factors, including the cost of the home, the applicant’s credit history, the borrower’s qualification for down payment assistance programs, and many other variables. Typically, home buyers are required to make down payments ranging from five to 20 percent of the home’s purchase price.

Prepaid Interest

The day you close on your home loan, you will be required to pay the interest that will accrue on the loan between the current time and the day the first monthly payment is due. Prepaying interest allows you to exert some degree of control over the due date for your monthly payments. Many people can include the initial prepaid interest in the total amount financed, which keeps them from having to pay this amount out of pocket at the closing table.

Keep in mind that the longer you put off your first payment, the more prepaid interest you will have to pay at the time of closing. It makes sense to utilize prepaid interest to make sure that your payment due date is convenient to your income schedule, but there is no benefit to postponing the first payment simply because you can do so.

Homeowners Insurance

When you finance a home, the premium for your first year of homeowners’ insurance coverage is due at the closing table. No mortgage company will allow a sales transaction to take place without being certain that insurance coverage is in effect the moment the title transfers into the mortgagee’s name. As with prepaid interest, many homebuyers who can do so elect to include their initial homeowner’s insurance premiums in the total amount financed.

Escrow Account

If you have a mortgage on your home, your lender is likely to require you to make escrow payments toward your property taxes and homeowner’s insurance premiums. This money goes into an escrow account, which the lender uses to make sure these important expenses are paid when they are due. Requiring escrow accounts protects the lender, who has a vested interest in making sure the property is sufficiently insured and remains free of tax liens.

Title Insurance

One of the most important components of a home loan transaction is the process of verifying that the seller has the legal right to transfer the title of the home to the buyer. In addition to verifying that the title of the home is clear prior to closing, it is advisable to protect the home from future title problems tied to the actions of past owners with a title insurance policy.

Sellers are typically responsible for paying for title research since this work is required to verify that they do in fact own the property and have a legal right to transfer it to the buyer. Homebuyers, however, usually pay for the accompanying title insurance policies, which protect them against potential prior claims to the home’s title that might surface once the transaction has been completed. Mortgage lenders usually require title insurance policies as a condition of closing.

Other Closing Costs

Several additional expenses must be considered in any comprehensive summary of mortgage fees. For example, when the title to a property is transferred, a warranty deed must be created, and the changes to the title of the property must be recorded. Additionally, most lenders require property appraisals, surveys, and termite inspections prior to approving a loan. The fees associated with these legal and real estate services are part of the closing costs for a home loan. They can be paid for by the buyer or seller, based on the terms agreed upon in the purchase agreement.