Massachusetts is an attorney state, which means all closings there require supervision by a licensed attorney and will therefore incur attorney fees. Land surveys, referred to as “plot plans,” are required for purchase transactions, which means an additional fee to each transaction.
Municipal lien certificates, certifying there are no liens on the property that is the subject of the transaction, are included in the closing fees of a transaction taking place in Massachusetts. In cases where a bankruptcy might be involved, closing fees can also include a Declaration of the Homestead and its corresponding fee.
Massachusetts is unique in that it offers two types of land recordation: registered and recorded. While the fees for each are the same, it can mean that some properties, if recorded and registered, could bring twice the fee. The difference between whether it is customary to designate a property record as “registered” or “recorded” varies by location.
Across the state, when it comes to transfer taxes there is a wide variation at both the county and municipal levels. For example, some jurisdictions (but not all) include land bank taxes for real estate transfers. Nantucket is one such county. In fact, in Dukes County (Martha’s Vineyard), the land bank tax can bring a tax of up to 2 percent of the property’s value.
Also in Dukes County, should the assessed value of the property in question be greater than the sales price, the tax is measured against the assessed value.
In Massachusetts, it’s worth noting that the transfer tax and deed tax are usually paid by the seller. However, in Barnstable County (Cape Cod), some real estate contracts will mandate that those taxes be paid by the buyer.
Finally, one location of which to be aware when it comes to closing fees is Norfolk County, primarily because its recording fees differ from those across the state.
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