First, note that ‘closing costs’ can be different from law firm to law firm. Some law firms call the excise tax a closing cost. While others call it a tax. The next guy could call it something entirely different, so, it’s very hard to compare closing costs from one place to another, because everyone has a different definition. For example, are past-due property taxes a closing cost?
Long story short:
It’s impossible for a lawyer to tell you exactly how much the closing could cost until he has done 80% of the closing. That is why attorneys send over a ‘fee schedule‘ so that you can (ideally), compare oranges to oranges (how much an attorney charges for a title search, etc). Everything else (property taxes, recording fees should be the same (or close) between law firms).
That is how it should work (compare fee sheets), but many attorneys purposely make their fee sheets difficult to understand, so it’s hard to compare one Attorney to another. I know one attorney that says he charges a flat $750 to do a closing. He neglects to mention that wire transfers are $90 each and that a title search is a separate $350 fee that isn’t on that sheet. Or that he charges 3 wire transfers in every closing unless the buyer is paying attention and tells him to remove the 2 that they didn’t use.
Another attorney that looks cheap on paper, but charges $350/hour for any work that they consider outside the scope of a basic closing. They make up that extra $ (and more), that way. You might be charged $100 to ask them to calculate your closing costs. I’ve very rarely charged anyone additional money by the hour. Some closings are easier than others and they balance out, eventually.
Title insurance is regulated by the state of NC. Every policy should be very similar in price if it’s similar in scope and coverage. One thing to note: It can make a significant difference as to whether your title company has searched for the previous policy and ‘tacked onto’ that policy, or if they’ve used a 30-year search to issue the policy. If the previous owner of the house had title insurance from his purchase, two years ago: you can ‘tack onto’ that policy and buy a new policy from that point forward (only two years). Some law firms refuse to do this and have an agreement with title companies to give them 30-year searches (full search) so everyone can make a few bucks more (some attorneys also own their own title company, to make more $). We always spend a week or so looking for a prior policy (they are often hard to find).
If you’re looking for an attorney, it might be worth asking if they own their own title company, or if they’re willing to use prior policies.
Title insurance is usually around $100k for an $80k or so property. Maybe $500 for a $300k property (for example).
After you understand all of this, there’s also the distinction between ‘Buyer‘ closing costs and ‘Seller‘ Closing costs. Attorneys in NC often prepare both sides and earn both sides of this coin. However, fees from different Attorneys vary wildly between the Buyer side and the Seller side.
Long story short:
The entirety of costs for our firm is around $750 in costs for a cash closing and $975 for a financed closing. I think we’re one of the cheapest firms in town (if not the cheapest). We do our own title searches, so we don’t have to hire abstractors to do the title searches for us (just about everyone else hires a title abstractor to do the title search, and they pay $200 for that – which ends up getting passed to you in one way or another). We cut this cost out and pass the savings to you. It’s our competitive advantage.
Even so, there are a number of other costs that you may encounter, which are not attorneys fees associated with the closing, but still, fall under ‘closing costs’.
For example: recording a deed is $26.00.
HOAs often have monies that need to be paid to them to transfer title, etc, etc. An HOA transfer fee could be $350 alone. Property taxes are usually made current at the time of closing. If the bill is not out yet, we give the seller a debit for the amount of the bill that they owe. If it’s July, for example… the seller has lived in the property for 6 months out of the year and should have to pay for 6 months worth of property taxes. We reduce the $$$ they get at closing by that amount. This could be called a closing cost and can surprise a lot of sellers.
All of this aside, we’ll ignore the even more complicated world of title defects, and how Attorneys might charge you to ‘fix’ ‘issues’ that they find. As you can imagine, some Attorneys seem to want to find issues, so they can charge additional costs.
So, without being a few weeks into your closing, it’s impossible for us to give you an exact quote. If I were able to make my own .02 cents known, I’d relate that it might be far more important to research reviews about the firm you choose and see which has fewer delays or problems than others. In the long run, choosing someone to get it done efficiently may save you more $ than having selected the Attorney that is $100 cheaper but ends up being the root of a closing delay, that costs you substantially more…..or ends up charging you twice what you expected due to unnecessary ‘title defect’ or ‘curative’ costs that Attorneys like me rarely charge.
We’ll help however we can to help you understand this process better, we’ve got a sample HUD that you can look at, to see how Buyer versus Seller costs are distributed.
View our fee schedule online at https://harrymarshlaw.com/sites/default/files/pdf/Fees/fees.pdf