Buying a house is not an easy process, and perhaps the most confusing part of any purchase is closing. When you get down to it, closing is simply signing the documents and paying the fees required above and beyond your down payment. The government, your bank's insurance company, insurance companies, title companies and lawyers all have fees that have to be paid to complete the transaction before you'll get your keys and your new home.

The bank loaning you the money for example, is going to charge you a fee for making the loan itself. They may want to charge you for running a credit check and processing your loan application and your first interest payment. They'll charge you for the appraisal of the house. The bank might also collect your property taxes to pay the local government at the end of the year. You're going to wind up paying for Title Insurance, to protect yourself against claims against the previous owners, and Homeowner's Insurance. There may be a fee for a property Survey. You'll have to pay fees and taxes to the local government as well. And while you don't need an attorney, you may want one if the situation is unusually complex.

It's important to note that you may not have to pay all of the fees yourself. Allyson Hajdu, a real estate professional in Atlanta, says that in this market, you may be able to negotiate to have the seller pay some or even all of the fees. "It's often negotiated in the offer, on the front end, before you sign anything."

Now, if you really want to get down to the dollars and cents of the issue, here are some tools for you to put to use. This Closing Cost Calculator will give you a good sense of what you're likely to wind up paying. It's part of real estate investor Michael Bluejay's comprehensive How to Buy a House site. Another site with some excellent information about Home Closing is Home Closing 101.

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.
Photo courtesy tlindenbaum/