DeSimone says simply because people here the word "closing" doesn't mean they should wait until the close period to discuss the costs. "You don't want to go in there blindly to that final table," he says.
Present your offer. If you've done your research, consult your Realtor to determine your offer. Although there's less room today for negotiating the purchase price than in the last few years, Boss says, "Ultimately, the market value is what a buyer's willing to pay and what a seller's willing to accept." For you and the seller to be able to reach an agreement, don't make your purchase contingent on the sale of your current home. "It was fine when the market was at the bottom, but people don't look at those offers right now," Corbett says. "That's one way to kill a deal." Also, be reasonable: Homebuyers who are willing to make minor concessions appear more desirable to sellers.
Set the down payment. Most lenders and housing experts say homebuyers should put 20 percent down. Corbett highlights several reasons for this figure: You instantly gain a little equity, you get a lower interest rate on your mortgage and you're "viewed as a more serious, more qualified buyer when you're competing with other buyers for a property." However, it's also important to set aside enough for a sufficient rainy-day fund.
Claim your tax benefits. Some of the deal's closing costs are generally deductible, says Mark Steber, chief tax officer at Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, but they're not always the costs consumers assume will be deductible. "Many new homeowners think they can claim all their expenses of buying their home on their tax return. But, most of the cost of business expenses, like the title insurance, attorney's fees and commissions, are not tax-deductible," he says.
To get the most from your tax refund, Steber cites these three deductions:
• Interest. The pro-rated interest for the remainder of the month from closing until the end of the month
• Real estate taxes. The pro-rated taxes for the time the buyer owns the home that may be paid at closing
• Points paid. As long as the points are a general practice in the area and within the average points for the area, they are deductible as interest
The bottom line. "You need to be able to spot a good deal when you see it and you have to be able to move forward on it quickly when you do," says Corbett.