What Are Recurring and Nonrecurring Closing Costs?

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Many people are uncertain as to what closing costs are.

Basically, they relate to the costs of doing the transaction. There are people who work on getting your loan through the process of approval and funding, and those people have got to be paid. Anytime you're talking about a fee for a service that needs to be performed in order to get a loan done, that's a closing cost. This includes even origination, which is normally quoted in points, as the fee that the loan provider takes for getting the loan done. Not all loans have origination fees in points, but I'd say that in excess of 95 percent of all sub-prime loans and at least two thirds of all A paper loans nationally do. Of course, all loans have origination fees of some sort - the people putting your loan together and getting it funded are not working for free. It can be paid via Yield Spread, secondary market premium, or a couple other ways that don't result in an apparent cost to you, but you are paying for origination somehow. Nobody does loans for free.

Every loan has closing costs. They are a fact of life. You can choose to accept a higher rate on your loan such that the lender will agree to pay your closing costs, but that is not the same thing as not having them. Indeed, you should be very wary of someone quoting you significantly lower closing costs that anyone else.

When you are talking about closing costs, the vast majority of all loan providers used to pretend that so-called "third party" fees such as title, escrow, attorney fees in the states that use attorneys, appraisal, and notary fees do not exist. That has mostlychanged with the requirements of the new 2010 Good Faith Estimate. Although there are still holes in the rules, most of the games lenders play have changed towards misquoting the tradeoff between rate and cost.and then act all surprised when you complain about these extra fees that weren't on your beginning paperwork. Until the new rules came into effect (and it still happens because as I said there are loopholes in the new rules) people told me before they sign up for a loan that my fees seem high, compared to what someone else is telling them. The difference, of course, is that I'm telling them about all the third party fees upfront and the other folks they are talking to are doing their best to pretend those fees don't exist. They not only exist, but you're going to pay them as a part of any loan. Who would you rather do business with, someone who pretends it's going to cost you half as much as it will, or someone who tells you the real cost right at the start?

Now the critical difference between recurring and nonrecurring closing costs in that nonrecurring happen once, to do your loan, and then they are done. Recurring closing costs are those things that happen every month, like interest, property taxes, insurance, and the impounds for doing them, if applicable. Mellow-Roos and homeowners association dues also fall within the definition of recurring, but those items I just named are pretty much the full extent of the recurring closing costs. Pretty much everything else is nonrecurring. For example, you only need one appraisal, one notary fee, one escrow, and one title insurance policy per loan.

One thing that is often counted as a closing cost that should not be are discount points, which instead of being a charge for a service are a charge by the bank to give you a better rate than you would otherwise get. There is always a trade-off between low rate and low cost. The lender will give you a lower rate if you pay for it, but they won't give it to you free. Also, the new rules treat Yield Spread as a cost rather than what it has legally become: an offset to fees that causes the consumer to spend less money, making direct lender loans appear better than they are in comparison to Yield Spread.

The importance of the distinction between recurring and nonrecurring closing costs is mostly in purchase situations. If there is an allowance from the seller for closing costs, the wording for this on the purchase contract can be critical. Nonrecurring closing costs are far more limited than recurring, and just the impound account can add thousands of dollars to what you, as the seller, end up paying if you agree to recurring closing costs. It's up to you how bad you want to sell the property, but a buyer who needs you to pay recurring closing costs is likely not a very qualified buyer, and their loan is pretty likely to experience snags. I counsel my sellers to insist on substantial deposits and sharply limited escrow periods in such cases, and if the buyer is allowed discount points as part of what you're willing to pay, count on the fact that they are going to use the entire allowance you give them. If the buyer has a choice of allowing you to keep some of that money or buying themselves a lower rate, which also means lower payments, what do you think they're going to do?

Caveat Emptor (and Vendor)

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on June 20, 2013 7:00 AM.

The Three Day Right of Rescission was the previous entry in this blog.

VA Loans Have Become The Magic Bullet is the next entry in this blog.

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