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What is a Recording Fee?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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A recording fee or administration fee is a fee which is charged by a government agency to record the details of a real estate sale. These details must be recorded in the public record and the recording fee is included in the closing costs for a sale along with a number of related fees. After closing, people should confirm that the change of ownership has been recorded and that the details are correct, as errors may cause problems in the future, most particularly when the property is sold or transferred to someone else.

The amount of a recording fee varies. Government offices which record deeds usually provide a fee schedule for the various services they provide, including recording, making duplicate copies of the title, and looking up records. People can request copies of these fee schedules from staff and if the government office has a website this information may be available there as well. Some government offices even provide recording fee calculators for convenience and title companies may provide such services as well.

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This fee is usually expressed as a percentage of the sale price of the home. In addition, people may be charged an extra fee for each additional page in the document to be recorded. The document must also meet standards set out by the government agency or it may be rejected. This means that any forms need to be completely filled out as directed, and that documents need to be the proper size. Two-sided documents are counted as two pages for administrative purposes.

At the time that a real estate contract is signed, the buyer should be provided with an information sheet describing the fees which will be associated with the transaction. This includes estimates for routine inspections which are performed as part of the sales process along with the closing costs such as the recording fee and loan origination fee. It is important to be aware that these are only estimates and that the closing costs may be lower or higher than predicted, depending on a number of factors.

Buyers who are concerned about closing costs can discuss the possibility of asking the seller to pay these costs. Some sellers will agree to this in exchange for a slightly higher sales price or as a concession to a qualified buyer. Generally in a so-called “seller's market,” buyers will not be able to obtain such concessions from sellers, but when buyers have the advantage it may be possible to negotiate.

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