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Settling the score on settlement services

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The complexity of the home-sale process can leave buyers and sellers alike feeling dazed and confused, with real estate brokerage and mortgage professionals surrounded by a host of other supporting professionals to complete a single transaction: home inspectors, pest inspectors, appraisers, title insurance agents, escrow agents, attorneys and land surveyors, among others. And the various fees and other costs associated with this gamut of primary and ancillary real estate services can be a source of frustration for consumers, adding thousands of dollars in additional costs to the sale. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is planning on Jan. 1 to implement numerous changes to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, such as the use of a standardized good faith estimate form to aid consumers in finding the best deal on mortgage and settlement services. During the month of September, Inman News will feature a special coverage focus on transparency -- includin...