How Much Does a Lawyer Charge to Transfer a Deed?

How Much Does a Lawyer Charge to Transfer a Deed?

If you are planning to buy or sell a property, you might be wondering how much it will cost you to transfer the deed.

A deed is a legal document that shows who owns a property and how they acquired it.

Transferring a deed means changing the ownership of the property from one person or entity to another.

There are different types of deeds, such as quitclaim deeds, warranty deeds, and special warranty deeds.

Each type of deed has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on the situation and the level of protection you want.

The cost of transferring a deed can vary depending on whether you file on your own or hire a professional service or lawyer.

Filing a deed on your own can cost anywhere from $30 to $150 while hiring a professional service and/or lawyer can cost upwards of $500, plus a filing fee.

Using an online service such as LegalZoom can cost about $250, plus the filing fees.

In this article, we will break down the factors that affect the cost of transferring a deed, the benefits and drawbacks of each option, and some tips on how to save money and avoid pitfalls.

An image illustration of how much does a lawyer charge to transfer a deed
How Much Does a Lawyer Charge to Transfer a Deed
Courtesy: (August de Richelieu)

Factors that Affect the Cost of Transferring a Deed

The cost of transferring a deed can depend on several factors, such as:

  • The type of deed you choose
  • The value and location of the property
  • The complexity and accuracy of the legal description of the property
  • The number of owners involved in the transfer
  • The state and county laws and regulations
  • The filing fees and taxes required by the county recorder’s office
  • The service fees and charges of the professional service or lawyer

Let’s take a closer look at each factor.

The Type of Deed You Choose

The type of deed you choose can affect the cost of transferring a deed because different types of deeds have different levels of protection and guarantees for the buyer and the seller.

A quitclaim deed is the simplest and cheapest type of deed. It transfers whatever interest you have in the property and makes no guarantees. It is often used for transfers between family members, spouses, or co-owners.

A warranty deed is the most common and expensive type of deed. It provides greater protection to the buyer because the seller makes a promise that he or she legally owns, and has clear title to, the real estate. It also guarantees that there are no liens, encumbrances, or defects on the property.

A special warranty deed is similar to a warranty deed, but it only covers the period when the seller owned the property. It does not guarantee anything before that time. It is often used for commercial transactions or transfers involving trusts or estates.

The table below shows some examples of how much each type of deed can cost:

Type of DeedFiling on Your OwnHiring a Professional ServiceHiring a Lawyer
Quitclaim Deed$30 – $60$100 – $200$300 – $500
Warranty Deed$50 – $100$150 – $300$400 – $600
Special Warranty Deed$50 – $100$150 – $300$400 – $600

Note: These are approximate ranges based on average costs across different states and counties. The actual costs may vary depending on your specific situation.

The Value and Location of the Property

The value and location of the property can affect the cost of transferring a deed because some states and counties charge taxes or fees based on these factors.

For example, some states charge a transfer tax or stamp tax based on a percentage of the sale price or the assessed value of the property. This tax can range from 0.01% to 4% depending on the state. Some counties also charge additional fees or surcharges for recording deeds.

For example, in Alabama, a Deed Transfer Tax at the rate of $0.50 per $500 of value based on the County Assessor’s valuation of the property must be paid at the time of transfer. This tax is not covered in the cost of preparing your deed.

The table below shows some examples of how much transfer taxes or fees can cost in different states:

StateTransfer Tax RateExample Cost for a $300,000 Property
CaliforniaNoneNone
Florida0.7%$2,100
New York0.4% – 1.425%$1,200 – $4,275
Pennsylvania1% – 2%$3,000 – $6,000
TexasNoneNone

Note: These are approximate rates and costs based on average values across different counties.

The actual rates and costs may vary depending on your specific location.

The Complexity and Accuracy of the Legal Description of the Property

The complexity and accuracy of the legal description of the property can affect the cost of transferring a deed because it determines how much research and verification is needed to prepare the deed.

The legal description of the property is a detailed and precise way of identifying the property’s boundaries, location, and dimensions. It usually includes information such as the map, block, lot number, section, township, range, metes and bounds, or coordinates of the property.

The legal description of the property can be found on the previous deed, the title report, the survey, or the county records. However, sometimes these sources may be outdated, inaccurate, or incomplete. In that case, you may need to hire a professional service or a lawyer to conduct a title search or a survey to determine the correct legal description of the property.

The cost of a title search or a survey can vary depending on the size, value, and location of the property. A title search can cost anywhere from $75 to $200, while a survey can cost anywhere from $250 to $1,000.

The Number of Owners Involved in the Transfer

The number of owners involved in the transfer can affect the cost of transferring a deed because it determines how many signatures and notarizations are needed to complete the deed.

A deed must be signed by all the current owners of the property who are transferring their interest to the new owner. Each signature must also be notarized by a notary public who verifies the identity and consent of the signer.

The cost of notarization can vary depending on the state and county laws and regulations. Some states charge a fixed fee per signature or document, while others charge an hourly rate or a travel fee. The average cost of notarization is about $15 per signature.

The table below shows some examples of how much notarization can cost in different states:

StateNotarization FeeExample Cost for 2 Signatures
California$15 per signature$30
Florida$10 per signature$20
New York$2 per signature$4
Pennsylvania$5 per signature$10
Texas$6 per signature$12

Note: These are approximate fees based on average values across different counties. The actual fees may vary depending on your specific location.

The State and County Laws and Regulations

The state and county laws and regulations can affect the cost of transferring a deed because they determine what requirements and procedures are needed to complete the deed.

Each state and county has its own laws and regulations regarding how to prepare, execute, record, and file deeds. These laws and regulations may include:

  • The format, language, and content of the deed
  • The type and amount of taxes or fees required for recording deeds
  • The type and amount of exemptions or discounts available for certain transfers
  • The type and amount of forms or documents required to accompany the deed
  • The type and amount of witnesses or acknowledgments required for signing deeds
  • The type and amount of time limits or deadlines for recording deeds

You can find out more about the state and county laws and regulations by visiting their official websites or contacting their offices. However, sometimes these sources may be confusing, outdated, or incomplete. In that case, you may need to hire a professional service or a lawyer to help you understand and comply with these laws and regulations.

The Service Fees and Charges of the Professional Service or Lawyer

The service fees and charges of the professional service or lawyer can affect the cost of transferring a deed because they determine how much you pay for their expertise and assistance.

Professional service or a lawyer can help you prepare, execute, record, and file your deed. They can also help you conduct title research, verify legal descriptions, obtain signatures and notarizations, pay taxes and fees, handle exemptions or discounts, complete forms or documents, meet witnesses or acknowledgments, and meet time limits or deadlines.

The cost of hiring a professional service or a lawyer can vary depending on their experience, reputation, location, availability, demand, complexity, urgency, quality, speed, and customer service. You should compare different options and get quotes before choosing one.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Each Option

There are benefits and drawbacks to each option for transferring a deed. Here are some pros and cons to consider:

Filing on Your Own

Pros:

  • You save money on service fees and charges
  • You have more control over the process
  • You learn more

Cons:

  • You spend more time and effort on the process
  • You may make mistakes or errors
  • You may face legal risks or liabilities

Hiring a Professional Service

Pros:

  • You save time and effort on the process
  • You get professional guidance and support
  • You get quality and accuracy

Cons:

  • You spend more money on service fees and charges
  • You have less control over the process
  • You may encounter delays or issues

Hiring a Lawyer

Pros:

  • You get legal advice and representation
  • You get the highest level of protection and a guarantee
  • You get peace of mind

Cons:

  • You spend the most money on service fees and charges
  • You have the least control over the process
  • You may have difficulty finding or communicating with a lawyer

Tips on How to Save Money and Avoid Pitfalls

Here are some tips on how to save money and avoid pitfalls when transferring a deed:

  • Do your research. Find out as much as you can about the property, the deed, the laws, and the costs before you start the process. Use reliable sources such as official websites, county records, title reports, surveys, or previous deeds. Avoid outdated, inaccurate, or incomplete sources such as online forums, blogs, or social media sites.
  • Compare your options. Shop around and get quotes from different professional services or lawyers. Compare their fees, charges, services, quality, speed, and customer service. Choose the one that best suits your needs, budget, and preferences.
  • Negotiate your fees. Try to negotiate your fees with your professional service or lawyer. Ask for discounts, exemptions, or waivers for certain taxes or fees. Ask for a flat fee instead of an hourly rate. Ask for a contingency fee instead of a retainer fee. Ask for a written agreement that outlines the scope, terms, and conditions of the service.
  • Review your deed. Check your deed carefully before you sign it. Make sure it has all the required information, such as the names of the parties, the legal description of the property, the type of deed, the date of transfer, and the signatures and notarizations. Make sure it has no errors, omissions, or inconsistencies. Make sure it matches your expectations and intentions.
  • Record your deed. Record your deed as soon as possible after you sign it. Follow the instructions and procedures of your county recorder’s office. Pay all the required taxes and fees. Submit all the required forms and documents. Keep a copy of your recorded deed for your records.

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Summary

Transferring a deed is a process of changing the ownership of a property from one person or entity to another.

The cost of transferring a deed can vary depending on several factors, such as:

  • The type of deed you choose
  • The value and location of the property
  • The complexity and accuracy of the legal description of the property
  • The number of owners involved in the transfer
  • The state and county laws and regulations
  • The filing fees and taxes required by the county recorder’s office
  • The service fees and charges of the professional service or lawyer