Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Why Pay a Home Buyer’s Closing Costs?

When I list a home for sale, I give always give the seller a net sheet with estimates of closing costs that will be associated with closing the home. One of the items on the list is “Seller contribution to the Buyer’s Closing Costs.” Every now and again, I hear a seller scoff at this item on the list and get a response to the effect of, “I don’t want to pay my own closing costs. Why would I want to contribute to the BUYERS?”

I love when that question is asked. The answer is very simple:
So they can BUY your house!

Today most buyers are required to put down a minimum of 3-5% of the purchase price of the home as a down payment. The closing costs for a buyer include title insurance, home owner’s insurance, appraisals, loan origination fees, name search fees, filing fees and more. As a Realtor in the communties of Anoka County and the north metro Twin Cities, I see these closing costs will run anywhere from $3000-$7000 for a first time buyer. Couple this amount with a required down payment and few buyers have the funds to purchase a home.

So buyers have the option of waiting and saving for additional closing costs or asking for seller assistance. In many cases a financial institution will allow a seller to assist a buyer by paying either points to reduce the interest rates and/or closing costs.

How does this work? Let’s say that a home is on the market for $200,000. The buyer writes their offer for $195,000 and their financial institution allows up to 3% seller’s assistance with fees and closing costs. They decide to ask the seller in their purchase agreement document for $5000, thus the net offer to the seller for the home is $190,000.
If a seller does not want to pay the closing costs, the buyer in many cases will not be able to purchase the home. It the offer is accepted, the seller’s proceeds at closing would then be reduced by the $5000. Sellers do not have to come up with the funds in cash if there is sufficient equity in the home to cover both the buyer's and the seller's costs.

When an offer comes in on a home, it is sometimes confusing to sellers what the sale price versus net number is. In the case above, the $195,000 would be the sale’s price on the purchase agreement but by paying the $5000 in closing costs, the seller’s net number is really $190,000 less the seller's own closing costs including all fees and commission.

If as a seller you decide to counter on the original offer, you can counter on the sales price of the home or the amount of closing costs paid. When counter offers are involved, a seller needs to make certain that they understand what the net proceeds will be in each offer and counter offer.

This is where the assistance of a good, professional Realtor comes into play. As a real estate agent, I provide my clients with a seller's net sheet that outlines all costs and fees that has been updated after receiving the offer. When counter offers start going back and forth, I reiterate at each step what my seller's net number to help eliminate the confusion.

Assisting a buyer with closing costs can be the ticket to getting your home sold in this changed real estate market. Understanding the process is simple with the assistance of a knowledgable real estate agent!

If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.