The Loan Estimate’s section "Services You Can Shop For” identifies where you generally can flex your comparison-shopping muscles—though not always. In some cases, the prices may be set by statute.
“They call it ‘shopping’ on the Loan Estimate because the lender isn’t requiring you to use their company," Williams-Barrett says.
Here are some areas where you can comparison-shop by price:
• Buyer’s attorney. This fee can be a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on location. If your state requires a buyer’s attorney at mortgage closings—or if you want one to ensure a smoother process—find a real estate attorney through your real estate agent, friends, or a local website that rates professionals. Talk to a several candidates; most charge a flat fee, and the difference in price can be several hundred dollars. Keep in mind you may be charged that fee, or a portion of it, even if the deal falls through.
• Pest inspector. This averages $100 but could run from $50 to $280, according to HomeAdvisor. Get references from your real estate agent. Or look at HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List (owned by HomeAdvisor) or other websites that rate local service providers.
• Homeowners insurance agent. The average premium is $1,288 for a $200,000 home with $100,000 in liability coverage and a $1,000 deductible, according to Insurance.com, an insurance-shopping website. Check our Ratings of homeowners insurance companies for the best providers, and go to the company’s website to locate an agent.
Consumer Reports has found policy-shoppers can save hundreds on homeowners insurance by shopping around, though few people do. By combining your auto and homeowners policies with one company, you also can save up to 30 percent on both coverages.
• Title insurance and related services. A mortgage typically requires a title insurance policy for the lender, plus related services like a title search. You also have the option to buy title coverage for yourself, and it’s often recommended.
Find out from the lender or your attorney if title service prices are set by statute in your state. If not, consult the Loan Estimate, which will list local title companies you can call to compare pricing. The average title policy is about $1,000, according to Realtor.com. But it could be much more, depending on where you live.
If it’s customary in your area for the real estate attorney to choose the title company, ask him or her to choose a low-cost service. "The purchaser’s attorney might be able to get a better price on a title service because he or she is doing bulk business," Williams-Barrett says.
• Survey. This averages $500, HomeAdvisor says. You might find the survey for the home on your own at the municipal clerk’s office, saving the cost. Or, you could ask the seller’s real estate agent if the seller already has an updated survey. Otherwise, check the Loan Estimate for local survey companies to compare prices.
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