Here is some info that should help you search for a property and to get a handle on the up front costs.

Our example is for a condominium located in Amherst, NY, Erie County (Zip Code 14221).

Local Property Search. Almost all of the sites you come across draw property listings from the same database. Because of that, you really only need to use one of them. I use http://www.huntrealestate.com because the site is pretty fast. You can use a site like realtor.com, or realtyusa.com, but the speed of the site gets to be a bit annoying.

Up front costs. These costs will vary based upon the property (mainly because of the property taxes), but this estimator can be a good guide. Use the Countrywide rate tool to get an idea: http://www.countrywide.com/rates/rates.asp. After entering your information, select the product that fits your needs, and then click on the ‘View’ link under the column that reads ‘Guaranteed Closing Costs’. The following table will display all of the costs that you are responsible for when closing on a property in this area. This isn’t unique to Countrywide. All banks and lenders charge similar fees.

You should add in the information for the ‘Total Estimated Prepaids’. The tax information should be listed in the property listing at huntrealestate.com.

Example:
Sale Price: $77,000
Down Payment: $7,700 (assuming 10% down)
Loan Amount: $69,300
Property Taxes & Condo Association Fee: $2,400
Insurance: $300
Total Estimated Closing costs: $2,782 (from Countrywide)
Escrow Items: $2,900 (approx)
Down Payment: $7,700
Total Money Out of Pocket: $ 13,382

These numbers are on the high side, but it should give you some idea of what is involved. The bank might be willing to build some (or all of) of the closing costs into your mortgage. This would reduce your up front cost, and increase your payment slightly.

Please post a comment if you have any questions.