Smart Money: Closing costs could be lower


DEAR BRUCE >> My mom is 81 years old, and the two of us have lived in her condo since it was purchased in 1999. The original purchase price was about $85,000, for which she got a 30-year mortgage (there's about $50,000 left on the mortgage). She's never been late or missed a payment. The interest rate is 6.62 percent and she has a $512 monthly payment.

She thought she'd like to try for a HARP refinancing to get a lower interest rate. She contacted Quicken Loans and they said she was HARP-eligible and offered her a 3.99 percent rate with a $411 monthly payment. The only sticking point is a $2,500 closing cost, which she thinks is too high. Do you agree?

— M.R.

DEAR M.R. >> I agree that the $2,500 closing cost seems to be high. She should consult other lenders for better offers.

The 4 percent interest rate is not any great bargain in today's world, but let's assume that she takes this loan. She will have her $2,500 back in about two years and after that will enjoy a considerable savings. She would still be ahead of her current situation, but I would first shop the market. I am confident she can find a closing cost around $1,000.

DEAR BRUCE >> My brother passed away 11 months ago in Denver. I have asked a few times, but I have not been able to get a copy of his death certificate. I am executor of my dad's will and there is unfinished business with some property he owned. How do I go about requesting copies of my brother's death certificate? I live in California.

— R.H.

DEAR R.H. >> This seems like a simple question. If your brother passed away in Denver, then write or call the county's Surrogate Department and, for a fee of a couple of dollars, they will sell you a death certificate for your brother. There should be no problem receiving a copy.

DEAR BRUCE >> My physician charges patients for photocopies, faxes, completed medical reports, medical referrals, etc. I thought these things were included in the services a physician offers patients. Medicare won't pay for these fees, and I have limited income due to being a disabled senior.

I discussed this with the physician's staff and they said I could always find another physician. These guys are nickel-and-diming me to death. What do you suggest?

— Reader

DEAR READER >> You are caught between a rock and a hard spot. If you're comfortable with the services the physician is providing, then you don't want to kick it away.

You might want to discuss this with the physician himself before you go out and find another. Explain that you understand his fees, but the nickel-and-diming is something you can't afford. The likelihood is that he will talk to his staff and say they should waive the fees. In the event that he doesn't, then perhaps finding another physician is the only answer.

Send questions to Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.


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