Who Pays for What

Casey Sternsmith

When buying a home in San Mateo County, the costs are typically divided between the buyer and the seller. Here is a breakdown of the common expenses and who typically pays for them:

  1. Purchase Price: The buyer pays the purchase price, which is the agreed-upon amount for the home.

  2. Earnest Money Deposit: The buyer typically pays an earnest money deposit to demonstrate their seriousness about purchasing the property. This amount is held in escrow and is credited towards the purchase price at closing.

  3. Down Payment: The buyer is responsible for providing the down payment, which is a percentage of the purchase price. The down payment amount varies depending on the buyer's financial situation and loan requirements. The average downpayment is 20% of the purchase price. 

  4. Mortgage Loan: Unless the buyer is purchasing the property in cash, they will need to obtain a mortgage loan to finance the purchase. The buyer pays for any loan-related fees and expenses, including application fees, appraisal fees, credit report fees, and loan origination fees. The best first step is to be pre-approved by one of our trusted lenders.  

    Holly Brand - Wells Fargo
    (650) 270-4800 


    Stefani Pearsall - Guaranteed Rate
    (408) 425-7882


    Mark Parola - Chase Lending
    (408)-728-5688- Cell


    Steve Reinhert & Tyler Sutter- First Republic Bank
    (415) 364-4321 (Tyler) or (415) 713-1072 (Steve)


    Ramin Mohajer - Bank of America
    (408) 242-1060


    Aaron Weisinger- PNC Bank
    ( 925) 588-1279 
  5. Appraisal Fee: The buyer usually pays for the appraisal fee, which is required by the lender to determine the market value of the property.

  6. Escrow and Title Fees: In San Mateo County, the buyer pays for the escrow and title fees. These fees cover the services provided by the escrow company and title company to ensure a smooth transfer of ownership.

    1. County Transfer Tax. Typically paid by the seller.
    2. City Transfer Taxes.  These are typically split 50/50 buyer and seller. 

      Here are the transfer tax rates for some cities in San Mateo County:

      1. City of San Mateo: The city imposes a transfer tax of $7.50 per $1,000 of the sales price or transfer value.

      2. City of Burlingame: Burlingame does not currently impose a transfer tax.

      3. City of Redwood City: Redwood City imposes a transfer tax of $5.30 per $1,000 of the sales price or transfer value.

      4. City of Daly City: Daly City imposes a transfer tax of $5.00 per $1,000 of the sales price or transfer value.

  7. Property Taxes: Property taxes are prorated between the buyer and the seller based on the closing date. The buyer assumes the responsibility for the property taxes from the closing date forward.

    1. To calculate property taxes in San Mateo County, you'll need to consider the assessed value of the property and the applicable tax rate. Here's a general process for calculating property taxes:

      1. Determine the Assessed Value: The Assessor's Office in San Mateo County assesses the value of properties for tax purposes. The assessed value is typically based on the property's purchase price when it was last sold, with adjustments for inflation or changes in property value. You can check the assessed value on the San Mateo County Assessor's website or by contacting their office directly.

      2. Understand the Tax Rate: The property tax rate in San Mateo County is a combination of various rates imposed by different taxing entities, including the county, city, school districts, and special districts. The tax rates are expressed as a percentage of the assessed value. The specific tax rate can vary depending on the location of the property. You can find the tax rates for different areas within San Mateo County on the website of the San Mateo County Controller's Office or by contacting them for the most up-to-date information.

      3. Calculate the Property Tax: To calculate the property tax, multiply the assessed value of the property by the applicable tax rate. For example, if the assessed value is $500,000 and the combined tax rate is 1.1%, the annual property tax would be $500,000 x 0.011 = $5,500.

      4. Consider Exemptions or Special Assessments: San Mateo County may offer certain exemptions or deductions that can reduce the property tax burden. Common exemptions include homeowner's exemptions for owner-occupied residences or exemptions for seniors or disabled individuals. Additionally, there may be special assessments or additional taxes levied for specific purposes, such as community facilities or infrastructure improvements. Be sure to check with the San Mateo County Assessor's Office for any applicable exemptions or special assessments.

      It's important to note that property tax calculations can be complex, and the above steps provide a general overview. It's recommended to consult with a tax professional or contact the San Mateo County Assessor's Office directly for personalized and up-to-date information on calculating property taxes in San Mateo County.

  8. Homeowner's Insurance: The buyer pays for homeowner's insurance, which protects the property and the buyer's investment in case of damage or loss.

    1. Call Jennifer Panos for more information regarding home owners insurance: JMP Insurance Services LLC
      (650) 757-1600

It's important to note that these payment responsibilities can be negotiated between the buyer and the seller during the offer and counteroffer process. It's advisable to consult with a real estate agent or attorney to have a clear understanding of the specific costs and responsibilities associated with buying a home in San Mateo County.


For a more in-depth conversation on the process of buying a home, call the Sternsmith Group today, 650-678-5455.  Your Realtor Matters: Experience the Difference! 



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