RE Transaction Costs – What to Expect

By Sharon Sharp, President

Escrow L.A., Inc.

I have found over the years that most sellers and buyers are not familiar with typical costs they will incur when selling or buying a home, and they are shocked when they receive their estimated closing statement. It is important for you to know what to expect when you decide to sell your home or you decide to purchase a home.
Typically, the seller can expect to pay for:

  • Real estate commission
  • Owners policy of title insurance
  • One half of the sub-escrow fee charged by the title company for handling payoff funds
  • One half of the base escrow fee, in addition to fees for handling the payoffs, paying California Withholding tax, and document preparation
  • Documentary transfer tax ($1.10 per thousand based on the sales price is paid to the County of Los Angeles, in addition to transfer tax paid to the city the property is located in, as follows (based on the sales price):
    • Los Angeles: $4.50 per thousand (Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Bel Air, Hancock
      Park, Venice, Marina del Rey)
    • Santa Monica: $3.00 per thousand
    • Malibu, Beverly Hills, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach: -0-
    • Redondo Beach: $2.20 per thousand
  • City report fees: Los Angeles $70.20
    • Santa Monica $260.57
  • Retrofitting, smoke detectors, gas shut off valve and water heater strapping: approximately $500-$1,000
  • Certificate of Compliance: Los Angeles $15
    • Santa Monica $50
  • Natural Hazard Disclosure Report (approximately $100)
  • Termite inspection and Section 1 (corrective) work
  • Payoffs of loans against the property (principal, accrued interest, statement fee, reconveyance fee)
  • Judgments, liens against the seller
  • Tax and homeowner association dues (prorated and paid current)
  • Homeowner association charges for documents and transfer fees
  • Recording fees for grant deed, reconveyance, releases
  • Notary fees
  • Messenger fees for pick up of contingency items (such as homeowner association documents)
  • California Withholding/Franchise Tax Board taxes (if you are not exempt)
  • IRS Withholding (if you are a foreign person and are not exempt)

Typically, the Buyer can expect to pay for:

  • Lenders title policy
  • One half of the sub-escrow fee for handling the loan funds if the buyer is obtaining a loan
  • One half of the base escrow fee, document preparation fees, and if the buyer is obtaining a loan, fees for the additional work involved with the new loan and email of the loan documents (you would not believe how much additional work is involved for the escrow holder when a buyer is getting a loan!)
  • Recording fees for the trust deed
  • Tax & homeowner association dues (prorated)
  • New loan fees (pre-paid interest, appraisal, document preparation, funding fee, underwriting, tax service, credit report, processing, points/origination fees)
  • Inspection fees
  • First year fire insurance premium
  • Notary fees
  • Messenger fees: delivery of contingency items and sending loan documents to the lender

Sharon Sharp, President
Escrow L.A., Inc.
11911 San Vicente Blvd., Suite 300
Los Angeles, California 90049
(310) 231-9100, fax: (310) 231-9200

  • Egbert Pellington

    Thank you for keeping us updated as to the Transfer Fees in the County of LA and the other cities that have their own transfer fees.

  • Martin Delgado

    Buyers and sellers need to be informed on what to expect, so this is all very pertinent information that every agent should know. I’ll be passing this article along, thanks!

  • RE_Insider

    From one of our readers:
    As you know, transfer taxes vary from county to county and city to city within each county. Also, escrow and title are in one company in Northern California vs two different companies in Souther California. Title and escrow fees vary between the different companies. We have an account with our favorite escrow/title company, in N. California, that allows us to prepare Net Sheets for our selling clients and an estimate for closing costs for our buying clients. We do that early on in the process so our clients are prepared and are not shocked when they are signing the closing documents.

    Have a great day