Every real estate transaction involves numerous fees and can be very confusing to both buyers and sellers. It is very important that the buyer and seller both understand which fees they will be expected to pay. California real estate transactions involve many fees and payment is typically divided differently between the buyer and seller depending on which area in California the property is located. The list of fees can be quite lengthy and may include escrow, title, insurance, deed, notary, recording, attorney, real estate, taxes, and inspections. Oddly enough the property location is typically used to determine which fees the buyer will pay, which fees the seller will pay, and which fees will be divided. Outlined below are the usual real estate transaction fees and who typically pays for them in California. But, it is also important to note that it is quite acceptable for the buyer and seller to negotiate the payment of fees and expenses as part of their real estate transaction.
Escrow is a third party agent that receives, holds, and disburses the funds and documents for the real estate transaction. This fee is usually paid by the buyer in northern California and by the seller in southern California. But it is also not uncommon for the buyer and seller to split this fee.
The title search is the process where public records are reviewed to research any previous liens or problems on the property. This fee is customarily paid by the buyer in northern California and the seller in southern California. This benefits the buyer so it is not unreasonable to request for the buyer to pay for this fee.
Title insurance protects the lender, the seller, and the borrower against any defects or previous claims to the property being transferred or sold. The buyer usually pays for this in northern California and the seller in southern California. This also benefits the buyer so it is not unusual to request the buyer to pay this fee.
Notary fees and recording fees are paid by the buyer for trust and grant deeds which help the buyer to purchase and finance the property. The seller pays the notary fees and recording fees when it is a reconveyance deed on the property which the seller will receive when paying off an existing mortgage.
In California the documentary transfer tax and the city transfer tax are usually paid by the seller. If an attorney is involved the fees are paid by the party that hired the attorney. All inspection reports including home inspection, roof, pest control, general contractor, and any other inspections are paid by the buyer. This is because the buyer usually selects the company to perform the inspections. If a home warranty is offered it is paid by the seller, but the buyer may purchase one if it is desired. Again, it is acceptable for the buyer and the seller to reach any agreement they feel is equitable for the payment of any of these fees.