TAMPA - While the housing market continues to flounder for those looking to refinance, the rates for a 15-year fixed mortgage have rarely been lower, at 3.30%.
With interest rates this low, some homeowners may want to take advantage, especially since there are more than 8 million homeowners with mortgages issued through Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae carrying interest rates of 6% or more.
But as anyone who has ever purchased a home knows, there is much more to consider when thinking of the bottom line on a home purchase or refinance. Closing costs alone can set you back thousands of dollars. But if you shop around and check old documents, you could shaving hundreds of dollars off closing expenses.
First, shop different title agents. There is no real need to go with the title company the bank prefers. Some title companies charge higher fees than others. Shopping around can save hundreds of dollars, according to Alpha-Omega Title owner Gibbs Wilson.
"The Title Search Fee plus the Title Closing/Settlement Fee are amounts that can vary depending whether or not it's a cash sale, a financed purchase or a refinance. The range of those two fees are usually between $400-$800 depending on the complexity and work involved in the transaction," said Wilson.
Buyers and those refinancing can rack up more savings if they can dig up a prior Owner's Title Insurance policy.
"A consumer could save $100, $200 or more depending on the sales price or refinance amount. Additional savings are possible depending on length of ownership of your property and whether or not you have your prior Owner's Title Insurance Policy that may qualify you for a re-issue credit. Often, the title agency can help you locate a copy of said policy if you cannot find it," said Wilson.
It is also important to do a background check on a title agency before hand. A title agency must be licensed and there must be one title agent for each branch that is licensed. Every title agency has to have an underwriter along with errors and omissions insurance.
You can visit Sunbiz.org to find out if a title agency is incorporated in Florida and for how long. You should also check My Florida CFO Licensee Search to ensure the agent or agency is licensed.
When shopping interest rates, be sure to ask the bank or credit union you are working with if they offer any money toward closing costs.
We did some of the footwork for you. We surveyed the nation's 10 largest banks to show you where the best rates can be found and what, if any, closing costs are offered. Keep in mind, interest rates vary based on credit score and loan-to-value of your property.
1. BANK OF AMERICA
2. JP MORGAN
4. WELLS FARGO
6. U.S. BANCORP
7. PNC MORTGAGE
8. BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON CORP
9. TD BANK US HOLDING COMPANY
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