As you may or may not have noticed, the San Diego County Recorder (and other county recorders as well) have started charging a new $75 fee for each recorded document, effective January 1, 2018. This new fee is courtesy of Senate Bill 2 (“SB-2”), which authorizes the $75 charge on top of regular recording fees, with a $225 cap on each real estate transaction.
The law is new and ambiguously written, which means no one has all the answers regarding how to interpret SB-2 just yet. However, based on our experience so far, here is some general information on how it works.
It applies to all real estate documents unless an exemption applies
It pretty much applies to all real estate documents you might record, including deeds, lis pendens, liens, etc.
What are the exemptions?
The main exemptions are the following:
- The document is being recorded in connection with a transfer subject to a transfer tax (i.e., a sale)
- The document is being recorded in connection with a transfer of residential property to an owner-occupier (i.e., transferring your home into your living trust)
- The maximum $225 fee has already been reached for the transaction
I have many properties that I want to transfer to my living trust
For the most part, the exemption will only apply to your residence (not rentals). However, please contact an attorney to see if there is a possible exemption for your other properties.
How do I claim an exemption?
To claim the exemption, you need to include a statement specifying which exemption you are claiming on the face of the document, or on a cover sheet submitted with it. Some counties provide a cover sheet on their website that you can use.
As discussed above, this legislation is very new and is still open to interpretation, especially as it is implemented differently across the state. For instance, does the “residential/owner-occupier” exemption apply to a summer home, or only to your main residence? Law offices are still trying to figure out the answers to questions like these.
When in doubt, call the recorder or a real estate attorney
If you can't figure out the fees, the recorder's office is a helpful resource. Just give them a call. However, they will not provide legal advice. If you are unsure of the type of document you need, or the tax and/or reassessment consequences, please call an attorney.
Helix Law Firm can help with drafting and recording deeds
We have the real estate experience necessary to draft quality deeds and can make sure you pay the right recording fee. Once we know what you need, we usually charge a flat fee for deeds, which includes all fees, including recording and notary fees. We can also advise you on the tax and reassessment consequences of the transfer.
If you're interested in learning more about how Helix can help, please call us at (619) 567-4447 to schedule a free consultation.