Closing on Your House? Here's Five Ways to Save

The American Dream of owning a home is not as easy as it used to be. From subprime to jumbo, ARMs to interest-only, mortgages have changed and the easy money no longer exists.

So what, exactly, has changed?

Over the last decade, new mortgage products let borrowers buy way more house than they could afford – and made many mortgage brokers and lenders temporarily rich. But now the party’s over and we’re all sobering up. Millions of Americans can’t manage their monthly payments. Sellers can’t find buyers. This harsh new reality requires a new set of rules.

To get started, Bob Sullivan, a top expert on hidden fees and rip-offs and author of Gotcha Capitalism, offered these five ways to save at the closing table. Whether you’re buying or selling, this is what you need to know before signing on the dotted line:

1. Beware of buyer fees

2. Comparison shop for title insurance

There aren’t a ton of companies out there, but a quick web search and phone call or two could save you money.

3. Negotiate realtor commissions

Did you know that at least a third of sellers don’t pay the full commission on their home? Remember, when you’re dealing with a large sum of money, just shaving off a single percentage point of a commission can keep thousands in your wallet.

4. Brokers aren't your friends!

Real estate and mortgage brokers, like car salesmen, are not there to make friends. They’re there to make money, and you’re there to save money. You know that famous line that salesmen should “always be closing”? It works both ways. As a buyer or a seller, it’s up to you to close the deal.

5. Get closing details early

Don't wait until you're at the table. Get those costs at least 72 hours ahead of closing so you you have time to go over the fine print and ask questions.