You’ve chosen a mortgage. Now it’s time to select and work with your closing agent.

Once you’ve applied for a mortgage, you may feel like you’re done. But mortgages are complicated and you still have choices to make.

Once you’ve decided to move forward with a lender based on the Loan Estimate, you are ready to shop for the closing agent who gathers all the legal documents, closes the loan, and handles the money involved in your purchase. After you apply for a loan, your lender gives you a list of companies that provide closing services. You may want to use one of the companies on the list. Or, you may be able to choose companies that are not on the list if your lender agrees to work with your choice. The seller cannot require you to buy a title insurance policy from a particular title company.

Closing agent

In most of the country, a settlement agent does your closing. In other states, particularly several states in the West, the person is known as an escrow agent. And in some states, particularly in the Northeast and South, an attorney may be required.

When you compare closing agents, look at both cost and customer service. Ask your real estate professional and your friends. These people may know companies they would recommend. Be sure to ask how that company handled problems and if they have a good reputation.

Review the list of companies your lender gave you. Select a few companies on the list and ask for references from people who recently bought a home. Ask those people how the company handled problems that came up during the transaction.

Title insurance

When you purchase your home, you receive a document most often called a deed, which shows the seller transferred their legal ownership, or “title,” to the home to you. Title insurance can provide protection if someone later sues and says they have a claim against the home. Common claims come from a previous owner’s failure to pay taxes or from contractors who say they were not paid for work done on the home before you purchased it.

Most lenders require a Lender’s Title Insurance policy, which protects the amount they lent. You may want to buy an Owner’s Title Insurance policy, which protects your financial investment in the home. The Loan Estimate you receive lists the Owner’s Title Insurance policy as optional if your lender does not require the policy as a condition of the loan.

Depending on the state where you are buying your home, your title insurance company may give you an itemized list of fees at closing. This itemized list may be required under state law and may be different from what you see on your Loan Estimate or Closing Disclosure. That does not mean you are being charged more. If you add up all the title-related costs your title insurance company gives you, it should match the totals of all the title-related costs you see on your Loan Estimate or Closing Disclosure. When comparing costs for title insurance, make sure to compare the bottom line total.

Home inspector and home appraiser

When you are considering buying a home, it is smart to check it out carefully to see if it is in good condition. The person who does this for you is called a home inspector. The inspector works for you and should tell you whether the home you want to buy is in good condition and whether you are buying a “money pit” of expensive repairs. Get your inspection before you are finally committed to buy the home.

A home inspector is different from a home appraiser. The appraiser is an independent professional whose job is to give the lender an estimate of the home’s market value. You are entitled to a copy of the appraisal prior to your closing. This allows you to see how the price you agreed to pay compares to similar and recent property sales in your area.

CosmoLends are experts in home loan products including FHA, VA, Conventional, USDA and OHFA, as well as purchase rehabilitation loans such as the FHA 203(k) and HomeStyle Renovation products. Call us and speak to one of our mortgage coaches to find out how we can help. You can also call us at 216.387.1003 and speak with a member of our loan team for a FREE consultation.

Published from Your home loan toolkit – A step-by-step guide by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau