Published by Kartik Subramaniam
In any real estate transaction, there are closing costs that are to be paid by both the buyer and the seller, and it's important to remember that these can vary from state to state and transaction to transaction.
I wanted to give you a quick run down from both a buyer and a seller perspective for California.
Let’s start with closing costs that are typically paid by the seller. A back of the envelope estimate would reveal that it would cost most sellers between 6 and 8 percent of the sales price to sell their home. The majority of the this is going to be wrapped up in real estate commissions as the seller generally pays between 4 and 6 percent of the sales price to sell it. The other 1 to 3 percent may be in other closing costs like back property taxes that are owed by the seller that will have to be paid at the close of escrow.
Even if the property taxes are not delinquent, these taxes are a seller responsibility until the escrow closes. For example, if the transaction were to close on April 10th, the property taxes up until April 10th would the responsibility of the seller. Anything after that date would be passed to the buyer side of the closing. Sellers will also have to pay their share of escrow fees and any back homeowner association dues until the date that the escrow closes.
The seller will also pay for any repairs that the buyer successfully negotiates during the escrow process. A home inspection, for example, might reveal that a roof is leaking and instead of the seller fixing the roof, the buyer may ask for a $7,000 credit to fix the roof in lieu of the actual repair. This would be deducted from the seller's proceeds at the close of escrow.
The industry standard in California is also that the seller will pay for a title insurance policy protecting the buyer.
As it relates to the buyer, a quick estimate of their costs would reveal a range between 1-3 percent of the sales price, with most of this is going to go to fees charged by the lender.
A lender may charge a fee, known as a point that is equal to one percent of the loan amount. The point could be categorized as either a discount point or an origination point. The difference between the two is that a discount point is a point paid to the lender to lower the interest rate on the loan. An origination point, on the other hand, is a fee that is paid to the lender to compensate them for actually doing the loan.
Generally, buyers will also pay the lender a credit report fee and are also responsible for their share of prorated property taxes. Generally, buyers will also pay for a title insurance policy covering the lender. This is different than the owner's title insurance policy that I described above that the seller paid for to protect the buyer.
What this means is that there’s two policies of title insurance in connection with a real estate transaction on which there is a loan. First, there is an owner’s policy to protect the buyer as well as a lender policy covering the lender. Buyers will also pay for their share of any escrow fees which are negotiable in California.
Speaking of escrow fees, it’s important to note that there’s usually a base escrow fee of between $200 and $400 and then the escrow fees themselves are often $2-$3 per thousand per side. Larger real estate transactions of several million dollars might have a lower per thousand escrow fee. It's also helpful to remember that many of these fees are negotiable. Certainly real estate commissions are negotiable but an often overlooked point is escrow fees can also be negotiated with the escrow holder.
As an example on a $600,000 purchase the base escrow fee might be:
$2/$1,000 = 600 x $2 = $1,200
$1,200 + $300 base fee = $1,500 for each side of the deal.
Buyers also generally pay for an appraisal on the property as required by their lender and a home inspection and other inspections as part of their due diligence.
Before you get your real estate license in California, it's important to familiarize yourself at some level with the typical closing costs, so you can properly inform your client. Often, real estate agents will produce something called a net sheet which estimates the costs to complete a transaction. Your broker should train you on how to properly fill these out so you can demonstrate that you're as informed as possible.
Are you ready to get your real estate license?