All Taxes you have to Pay when Buying a House – Transfer Tax, Mortgage Tax + Co

Buying Real Estate – What taxes do you have to pay when you buy a house? Below a list of all types of taxes which you have to pay, how much they are, where to read more about them, and what their use is. Everything you need to know about taxes surrounding the purchase of property, be it your house or a vacation home. We answer the questions, what are transfer taxes? Why do you have to pay property taxes when buying real estate?

Taxes when Buying a House

Buying a house is a massive investment, and most people are surprised by the many additional costs. To begin to understand all the extra costs which the purchase of a house brings, means understanding the taxes. That means, that the three types of taxes listed below are all the necessary costs which you will pay to the government in the area of the home you are purchasing.

Upfront Taxes

When buying a home in the United States, you are typically required to pay 6 months of property taxes in advance upon purchase. That means six months worth of property tax, called pro rata. Yet, on the purchase of the property, there are only three taxes. Which makes this quite easy to understand. The property tax is the tax which an individual has to pay annually for owning property, the transfer tax is the tax on the purchase of the home, and the mortgage recording tax (where it exists) is the tax on the recording of the mortgage.

Many of these taxes can be deducted from your federal tax sheet. Learn more:

Do you have to pay Sales Tax on Real Estate?

No. In federal law, real estate such as homes, property, or land, are not subject to sales tax. Although some states do have sales tax on items which may be interpreted as being a home (e.g. a mobile home).

Taxes You Must Know

These are the taxes you have to know about when paying for your home. How each of these is calculated depends on the city, county, and state the real estate is bought in. The three relevant taxes which you will incur when purchasing a home are property taxes, transfer taxes, and mortgage registration tax. Not all exist in all states, and there are many intricacies to note.

Property Taxes

Property Taxes are ad-valorem taxes which you pay for owning property. Most typically, this property consists of land, as well as anything which is permanently attached, such as any real estate, but also, roads, docks/wharfs, pools, etc. In some states, the property tax even includes items such as boats. When buying a house, these must be paid in advance, and then received back from the seller. Property taxes are typically a rate which is multiplied by the estimated value of the property. This value is estimated by an appraiser, and takes into account location, age, etc.

Avg. US Property Tax: 1.11%

To calculate property taxes, you receive a rate, which is influenced by local, county, and state laws. E.g., a house in Hawaii, worth USD$1 mil., will cost USD$3,000 in property taxes a year. Yet this does not take into account the rate which a specific county in Hawaii may add to this.

Transfer Taxes

Transfer taxes are argued to be taxes which pay for the work and materials invested when documenting the purchase of a new home. This is why they are sometimes also called documentation taxes. They are one time fees upon the transfer in ownership of a home, i.e. when buying or selling a house. These are sometimes paid by the seller, and sometimes by the buyer, with some states stipulating who, and sometimes the real estate agent mediates between seller and buyer.

Avg. US Transfer Tax: 0.6%

These are often felt to be one of the more complicated taxes because the rate does not only differ by state, but also between counties and between cities. E.g.  in New York you have the New York State (0.4%), New York City (1,4%), Mansion (1%, only when buying a house > USD$1 mil.) transfer taxes. Meaning when you buy a house for USD$1 mil., there is a total of USD$28,250.

Mortgage Registration Tax

This tax is based on the amount of debt being secured by the procurement of real estate. It is a state-based tax, and is paid towards the locations where the mortgage is documented and recorded. If the buyer wants a mortgage, the buyer pays the registration fees for the mortgage. In Minnesota, there may be an additional tax such as an “environmental response fund tax”. The 7 states which require a mortgage tax are Alabama, Florida, Kansas, Minnesota, New Yoek, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

Avg. US Mortgage Registration Tax: 0.2%-.4%

The amount required is again based around the amount included in the mortgage. E.g. in Minnesota county, there is a 0.23% mortgage registration tax, when a mortgage worth USD$1 mil., you will pay USD$2300 in mortgage registration tax.

Additional Costs – Real Estate

These taxes are just some of the many additional costs which accompany the purchase of real estate. Buying a house means paying attorneys, brokers, and many other individuals or organisations. And these additional costs can equal as much as 5-6% of the total purchase price of the property. We’ve broken down all the costs you have to know about in our article