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You’d think that given the state of the housing market, closing costs couldn’t possibly be on the rise. But due to stricter government regulations, they are. What should you do if you don’t want to pay sticker price? Negotiate. Here are a few pointers to get you started:

Ask questions

Review your closing costs line by line, carefully examining every charge. Ask your lender for an explanation of any fees that you don’t understand. “Is this a third-party fee?” “A loan origination fee?” If the lender gives you the runaround or flat out refuses to answer your questions, move on to another one.

Shop around

Given that origination fees can vary significantly from lender to lender — by upwards of several thousand dollars in some states – it’s important that you get several Good Faith Estimates. A mortgage shopping site like Zillow Mortgage Marketplace lets you shop around and compare mortgage rates and loan options (inclusive of lender fees) easily. Borrowers receive on average, 20 personalized loan quotes per request.

Know where there’s ‘wiggle room’

Generally, the fees that are most negotiable are lender’s fees. That includes things like loan-origination fees (what the lender charges to secure your loan), administrative costs, wire-transfer costs and other clerical fees. In some states, you can even negotiate title insurance costs (worth doing, since the average title insurance premium, nationwide, is currently $1,653).

And where’s there’s not

Third-party fees — which includes things like appraisals, credit report fees, underwriter services, and inspection fees – are generally firm and not typically negotiable. In addition, there are taxes and government document-recording fees. Those, too, are set in stone.

Vera Gibbons is a financial journalist based in New York City and is a contributor to Zillow Blog. Connect with her at http://veragibbons.com/.

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