Who Pays Closing Costs in California? Your Guide!

Who Pays Closing Costs in California? Your Guide!

Closing costs in California refer to the expenses that arise during the final stages of a real estate transaction for home buyers, home sellers, and realtors. These costs are additional fees on top of the sales price. These costs, incurred by both buyers and sellers, encompass various fees and charges associated with the closing table. Realtors, sales price, escrow period, and mortgage lenders are all factors that contribute to these costs. The specific amount of closing costs for home buyers can vary depending on factors such as location, property type, and loan terms. This includes the escrow fee for home sellers during the home sale process. Understanding the costs associated with a home sale, such as the escrow fee, attorney fees, and tax, is crucial for anyone involved in a real estate transaction in California.

Navigating the complexities of closing costs, including home sale, escrow period, attorney fees, and cash sale, is essential to ensure a smooth and successful transaction. Buyers need to be aware of their financial obligations beyond the purchase price, including cash sale, attorney fees, and closing table costs, while sellers must factor in these costs when determining their net proceeds. It is important for buyers and sellers to consult with their agent for guidance on these matters.

Who Pays Closing Costs: Buyers or Sellers?

In California, when buying or selling a house, the question of who pays the cash for closing costs, including attorney fees, is often a topic of discussion. While it is customary for the buyer to cover the majority of the costs associated with the sale of a house, including attorney fees, there may be some room for negotiation between the buyer and seller to determine who pays in cash. To determine who is responsible for specific closing costs, such as the fee for processing the sale of a house in cash, it’s essential to thoroughly review the purchase agreement.

Buyer Responsibility

Typically, in California, buyers are expected to shoulder most of the closing costs associated with purchasing a house for cash sale. These costs may include fees. These costs can vary depending on factors such as the purchase price of the house and any additional services required during the houzeo sale process. Here are some common closing costs that buyers may be responsible for when purchasing a house for sale.

  1. Loan-related fees for house buyers often include seller closing costs, such as origination fees, appraisal fees, and credit report charges. These typical closing costs are incurred in the sale of a house.
  2. Title insurance: Buyers usually pay for both lender’s title insurance (protecting the lender) and owner’s title insurance (protecting themselves). These costs are part of the typical closing costs that sellers incur when selling a house.
  3. Escrow fees: The buyer generally covers escrow fees for seller closing costs, which include administrative expenses involved in handling funds and documents during the house transaction.
  4. Home inspection fees are one of the seller closing costs. Buyers commonly hire professional inspectors to assess the condition of the property before finalizing their purchase.
  5. Recording fees: These fees are charged by government agencies for recording important documents related to property ownership. These fees can be incurred by both sellers and buyers during the closing process. Seller closing costs and buyer closing costs may include recording fees.

Seller Negotiation

While buyers typically bear most of the burden of closing costs, sellers may have some flexibility in negotiating certain expenses. It’s not uncommon for sellers to agree to pay a portion or even all of specific closing costs as part of their negotiations with potential buyers.

Here are a few examples where sellers might contribute towards closing costs:

  1. Transfer taxes and closing costs: In some cases, sellers may agree to cover transfer taxes and closing costs associated with transferring ownership from seller to buyer.
  2. Home warranty plans: Sellers might offer to purchase a home warranty plan on behalf of the buyer, providing coverage for certain repairs or replacements after the sale. These plans can help mitigate closing cost expenses.
  3. Sellers may agree to pay for pest inspections and necessary repairs if any buyer closing costs are found during the inspection process.

It’s important to note that negotiation of closing costs is not guaranteed, and it ultimately depends on the agreement reached between the buyer and seller. The seller closing costs and buyer closing costs terms can vary widely depending on market conditions, property value, and individual circumstances.

Types of Closing Costs in California

Closing costs are an integral part of the home buying process in California. These costs can vary depending on various factors, such as the purchase price of the property and the specific terms of the loan. It’s essential for buyers to understand the different types of closing costs they may encounter when purchasing a home in California.

Common Types of Closing Costs in California

  1. Loan Origination Fees: This fee is charged by lenders for processing and underwriting the loan, and can be included in both buyer closing costs and seller closing costs. The buyer closing costs typically range from 0.5% to 1% of the total loan amount, while the seller closing costs are also a factor to consider.
  2. Appraisal Fees: An appraisal is required to determine the market value of the property being purchased, which can be included in both seller closing costs and buyer closing costs. The seller closing costs for this service is usually paid by the buyer and can range from $300 to $500.
  3. Escrow Fees: Escrow companies facilitate the transfer of funds and documents during a real estate transaction, including handling buyer closing costs. The fees associated with escrow services can vary but are generally split between buyers and sellers.
  4. Title Insurance Premiums: Title insurance protects both buyers and lenders against any potential issues with ownership or title defects. The buyer closing costs vary based on factors like purchase price and loan amount but typically fall within 0.5% to 1% of the purchase price.
  5. Home Inspection Fees: A home inspection is conducted to identify any potential issues with the property, such as structural problems or safety hazards. Buyers usually pay for this service, which can range from $300 to $500.
  6. Recording Fees: These fees cover the cost of recording important documents related to your property purchase with county officials. They typically range from $25 to $100 per document.

Other Potential Closing Costs

In addition to these common closing costs, there may be other expenses that buyers should be aware of:

  • Pest Inspection Fees: In some cases, a pest inspection may be required before finalizing a sale, especially if the property is located in an area prone to termite infestation or other pest issues. The cost of a pest inspection can range from $100 to $300.
  • Homeowner’s Insurance: Lenders usually require buyers to have homeowner’s insurance in place before closing. The cost of insurance premiums can vary depending on factors such as the location and value of the property.
  • Property Taxes: Buyers may need to pay a portion of the property taxes due at closing, depending on when the next tax payment is due.

It’s important for buyers to carefully review their Loan Estimate (LE) and Closing Disclosure (CD) documents provided by their lender. These documents outline all applicable closing costs, allowing buyers to have a clear understanding of what they are responsible for paying.

Understanding the types of closing costs involved in a California real estate transaction empowers buyers to budget effectively and plan for these expenses. By being aware of these costs upfront, buyers can avoid any surprises during the home buying process.

Exploring Owner’s Title Insurance and Lender’s Title Insurance

When buying a property in California, it’s essential to understand the different types of insurance that can protect you as a buyer. Two crucial types of insurance to consider are owner’s title insurance and lender’s title insurance. Let’s delve into what these insurances entail and why they are important.

Owner’s Title Insurance

Owner’s title insurance is a policy that protects the buyer from any unforeseen issues with the property’s title. It provides coverage for potential problems such as liens, encumbrances, or claims against the property that may arise after the purchase. While owner’s title insurance is optional in California, it is highly recommended for added protection.

Why You Should Consider Owner’s Title Insurance

  1. Protects your investment: Owner’s title insurance shields you from financial loss if someone challenges your ownership rights or if there are hidden defects in the property title.
  2. Covers legal fees: In case of a dispute over the property title, owner’s title insurance can cover legal expenses incurred to defend your ownership rights.
  3. Peace of mind: Having owner’s title insurance gives you peace of mind knowing that you have financial protection against unforeseen issues with the property’s title.

Lender’s Title Insurance

Lender’s title insurance, also known as a loan policy, protects mortgage lenders against any claims that could jeopardize their lien position on the property. It ensures that if there are any undiscovered liens or other defects in the property’s title, the lender will still be protected.

Why Lenders Require Title Insurance

  1. Safeguards their investment: Lenders want assurance that their investment is secure and protected from potential losses due to an invalid or defective property title.
  2. Ensures lien priority: Lender’s title insurance guarantees that their mortgage lien remains in first position on the property, protecting their financial interest.
  3. Reduces risk: By requiring title insurance, lenders mitigate the risk of potential legal disputes or claims that could affect their ability to recover their loan amount.

The Importance of Title Insurance

Title insurance is crucial because it provides protection against unforeseen issues with the property’s title that may arise in the future. Without it, you could be at risk of losing your investment or facing legal battles to defend your ownership rights.

While a thorough home inspection and land survey are important steps in the buying process, they do not provide the same level of protection as title insurance. These inspections focus on physical aspects of the property, while title insurance covers potential hidden defects in the property’s title.

Nonrecurring Fees vs Recurring or Prorated Fees

In the world of real estate transactions, there are various costs and fees that buyers and sellers need to consider. Two types of fees that often come up during the closing process are nonrecurring fees and recurring or prorated fees. Understanding the difference between these two can help clarify who is responsible for paying them in a California real estate deal.

Nonrecurring Fees

Nonrecurring fees are one-time charges that are typically paid at closing. These fees cover services provided during the transaction process and may include items such as appraisal fees, loan origination fees, credit report fees, and escrow fees.

It’s important to note that they are usually negotiable between the buyer and seller. In some cases, the seller may agree to pay for certain nonrecurring fees as an incentive to attract potential buyers. On the other hand, buyers may choose to negotiate with sellers for credits or discounts on these fees.

Recurring or Prorated Fees

Unlike nonrecurring fees, recurring or prorated fees are ongoing expenses associated with homeownership. These expenses may be divided between the buyer and seller based on when they occur during the transaction process.

One common example of a recurring fee is property taxes. Property taxes are typically assessed annually by local government authorities based on the value of the property. However, since property taxes are paid in advance for a specific period (usually six months or a year), they need to be prorated between the buyer and seller based on their respective ownership periods.

Another example of a recurring fee is homeowner association dues (HOA dues). If you’re purchasing a property within a community governed by an HOA, you will likely have to pay monthly or annual dues to cover communal expenses such as maintenance, landscaping, and amenities.

Prepaid interest is another fee that falls under the category of recurring or prorated fees. When you obtain a mortgage, you may be required to pay interest on the loan from the closing date until the end of the month. This prepaid interest is typically prorated between the buyer and seller based on their respective ownership periods.

Who Pays?

The responsibility for paying nonrecurring and recurring or prorated fees can vary depending on several factors, including local customs, negotiation between parties, and terms outlined in the purchase agreement. In California, it is common for buyers to bear most of the nonrecurring fees while sellers are responsible for prorated expenses up until the close of escrow.

However, it’s important to remember that these payment responsibilities can be negotiated during the transaction process. Buyers can request credits or discounts from sellers towards nonrecurring fees, while sellers may agree to cover certain recurring or prorated expenses as an incentive.

Understanding who pays closing costs in California involves considering both nonrecurring and recurring fees. While buyers generally handle nonrecurring charges, recurring expenses are often divided based on ownership periods. Negotiation plays a significant role in determining how these costs are allocated between buyers and sellers.

Real Estate Commission and Agent Commission

Real estate commission plays a significant role in the closing costs of a real estate transaction. It refers to the fee paid to real estate agents involved in the deal. This commission is typically a percentage of the final sale price and is negotiable between the seller and their agent.

Understanding how real estate commissions impact overall closing costs is crucial for sellers. Here’s what you need to know:

Real Estate Commission: A Percentage of Sale Price

When you sell your property, you’ll likely work with a real estate agent or broker who will assist you throughout the process. These professionals invest their time, resources, and expertise into marketing your property, finding potential buyers, negotiating offers, and guiding you through the paperwork.

In return for their services, they are entitled to a commission based on a percentage of the sale price. The exact percentage can vary but typically ranges from 5% to 6% of the final sale price.

Negotiating Commission Rates

It’s important to note that real estate commissions are negotiable. You have the opportunity to discuss and agree upon the commission rate with your chosen agent or broker before signing any contracts.

Negotiating lower commission rates can help reduce your overall closing costs. Keep in mind that while it may be tempting to try and negotiate an extremely low rate, it’s essential to consider whether doing so could impact the quality of service provided by your agent.

Impact on Closing Costs

Real estate commissions directly affect closing costs because they are deducted from the proceeds of the sale. As a seller, this means that part of your earnings will go towards paying these commissions.

For example, if your home sells for $500,000 with a 6% commission rate, you would pay $30,000 in commissions ($500,000 x 0.06 = $30,000). This amount would then be subtracted from your total earnings at closing.

It’s crucial to factor in these costs when determining your net proceeds from the sale. By understanding the impact of real estate commissions, you can better plan and budget for your closing costs.

Pros and Cons of Real Estate Commissions

Like any aspect of a real estate deal, there are pros and cons to consider when it comes to real estate commissions:


  • Real estate agents provide valuable expertise and support throughout the selling process.
  • The commission is typically paid only upon successful completion of the sale.
  • Negotiating commission rates can help reduce overall closing costs.


  • Higher commission rates can eat into your profits from the sale.
  • Paying commissions may be an additional financial burden for sellers.
  • It’s essential to ensure that the services provided by your agent justify the commission rate agreed upon.

Remember, each real estate transaction is unique, and it’s important to evaluate your specific circumstances before making decisions regarding commissions or other closing costs.

The Escrow Process and Recording Fees

Escrow is an essential part of the real estate transaction process in California. It involves a neutral third party, known as an escrow company, that holds funds and documents until all the conditions of the sale are met. During this period, there are certain fees involved, including escrow fees and recording fees.

Escrow Fees

Escrow fees cover the services provided by the escrow company throughout the transaction. These fees can vary depending on factors such as the purchase price of the property and any additional services required. The escrow company is responsible for preparing important documents, ensuring all parties meet their contractual obligations, and facilitating the transfer of funds.


  • Provides a neutral intermediary to handle funds and documents.
  • Ensures compliance with legal requirements during the transaction.
  • Offers peace of mind to both buyers and sellers.


  • Adds an additional cost to the overall transaction.
  • Fees can vary between different escrow companies.

Recording Fees

Recording fees are charged by the county recorder’s office to officially record various documents related to the real estate transaction. This includes recording the new deed, mortgage or trust deed, and other relevant documents. These fees are typically based on a per-page basis or a flat fee structure set by each county.


  • Essential for establishing legal ownership of a property.
  • Helps maintain accurate public records regarding property ownership.


  • Can add up depending on the number of pages being recorded.
  • Varies between counties in California.

It’s important to note that while these fees are typically paid by either the buyer or seller, they can be negotiable as part of your initial offer or contract negotiations. The specific terms regarding who pays these fees should be outlined in your purchase agreement or contract.

In addition to escrow and recording fees, there may be other costs associated with closing a real estate transaction in California. These can include appraisal fees, attorney fees, and transfer taxes. It’s crucial to review your settlement statement carefully to understand all the expenses involved in the transaction.

Tips to Reduce Closing Costs in California

Congratulations! You are now equipped with valuable information about closing costs in California. By understanding the different types of fees and who typically pays for them, you can navigate the home buying process more confidently. But what’s next? How can you reduce these closing costs and save some hard-earned money?

Here’s a call-to-action for you: Before finalizing your home purchase, make sure to shop around for service providers such as lenders, title companies, and insurance providers. Compare their fees and negotiate whenever possible. Remember, just like how you wouldn’t settle for the first car or vacation package that comes your way, it’s essential to explore different options.


Can I negotiate closing costs with the seller?

Yes, negotiating with the seller is an option worth exploring. While sellers are typically responsible for their own set of closing costs, they may be willing to contribute towards some of the buyer’s expenses to close the deal.

Are there any government programs or grants available to help with closing costs?

Yes, there are various government programs and grants available at both federal and state levels that can assist homebuyers with their closing costs. Researching these programs or consulting with a knowledgeable real estate professional will help you identify potential opportunities.

Can I roll my closing costs into my mortgage loan?

In some cases, it is possible to roll certain closing costs into your mortgage loan. However, this will increase your overall loan amount and potentially affect your monthly payments. It’s crucial to carefully consider this option and consult with your lender before making a decision.

Do I need both owner’s title insurance and lender’s title insurance?

While lender’s title insurance is typically required by most lenders as a safeguard for their investment in the property, owner’s title insurance is optional but highly recommended. Owner’s title insurance protects you from any unforeseen title issues that may arise after the purchase, giving you peace of mind.

Can I estimate my closing costs before making an offer on a home?

Yes, it’s possible to get an estimate of your closing costs before making an offer. By working with your real estate agent and mortgage lender, they can provide you with a Loan Estimate (LE) or a Good Faith Estimate (GFE) that outlines the expected closing costs based on the specific property and loan details.

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