San Francisco Bay Area transfer tax by city and county (updated for 2021)

In another post, we discussed the closing costs a San Francisco Bay Area buyer must pay before title can transfer. In this post, we’ll cover real estate transfer tax specifically. Some Bay Area counties levy a pre-set transfer tax and some cities have additional transfer taxes to boot. It is important to understand which counties and cities levy these taxes so that you know what you’ll pay at close of escrow.

Important Reminder: Torii pays your Bay Area closing costs!

Which Bay Area Counties and Cities Levy a Transfer Tax?

Depending on the county and city, when you purchase a Bay Area home, a one-time transfer tax may be charged. The home seller is typically responsible for covering this tax, which is bundled into the seller’s “closing costs.” County transfer tax is typically $1.10 for every thousand dollars of the purchase price. For example a $1,000,000 home has a transfer tax of $1,100.

As mentioned above, some Bay Area cities charge an additional city transfer tax. It is customary for city transfer tax to be split 50/50 by the seller and buyer. However, when buying a distressed property, buyers may be held responsible for paying 100% of the taxes.


Alameda County

Currently, in Alameda County, the cities of Oakland and Berkeley both have the highest transfer tax of $15 for every thousand dollars of purchase price (for homes in the $300,000 to $1.5mm range). To put that into perspective, the average home value in Oakland is about $886,000 and in Berkeley is $1.4 million, making the average transfer costs total $12,900 and $21,000 in those counties.

Other Alameda County cities charge the following (per thousand dollars): Alameda ($12); Albany ($15); Emeryville ($12); Hayward ($8.50); Piedmont ($13); San Leandro ($11). Over the last year, transfer taxes in Albany have increased by 30% and in San Leandro by a whopping 83%!

In Alameda county, the seller is typically responsible for the country transfer tax fee as well as 50% of the city transfer taxes. The buyer pays for the recording, escrow, title and 50% of the city transfer taxes.

For other cities in Alameda county—you can find the detailed tax rates on its Clerk’s-Recorder Office’s website. Other cities in the Bay Area that charge city transfer taxes include but are not limited to Richmond, San Rafael, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose, Vallejo, Santa Rosa and San Francisco.

Contra Costa County

Contra Costa’s transfer tax rate is $0.55 per $500 consideration ($1.10 per $1,000).  The City of Richmond charges an additional tax (per $1,000): transfers under $1 million ($7.00); transfers between $1 – $3 million ($12.50);  transfers between $3 – $10 million ($25.00); transfers over $10 million ($30.00). 

In Contra Costa County sellers typically cover the county transfer tax. Buyer and seller typically split the city tax 50/50. Buyers also pay for the recording, title and escrow fees.

Marin County

Like Contra Costa, Marin County’s transfer tax rate is $0.55 per $500 consideration ($1.10 per $1,000).  The City of San Rafael charges an additional tax of $2 per $1000, which seller pays. Buyers pays for the recording, title and escrow fees.

San Francisco County

Buyers in San Francisco County pay the costs of recording, title and insurance. Sellers pay the county ($1.10 per $1,000) and city transfer taxes ($3.40 for sales between $250,000 to $999,000; $3.75 for sales between $1.0 million to $4.99 million).

San Mateo County

In San Mateo County, sellers typically pay for the county transfer tax ($1.10 per $1,000) and half the city taxes. Buyers pay for the recording fee, escrow, title and half of the city taxes. The City of San Mateo charges a tax of $5.00 per $1,000, while the City of Hillsborough charges a rate of $.30 per $1,000. Buyers in San Mateo County pay the costs of recording, title and insurance.

Santa Clara County

In Santa Clara County, it is customary for sellers to pay for the county tax ($1.10 per $1,000). Typically buyers and sellers split city transfer tax 50/50. Mountain View, Palo Alto, and San Jose all charge an additional city transfer tax of $3.30 per $1,000.

In Santa Clara County, sellers typically pay escrow fees and title insurance costs.

Torii Agents Are Standing By

Not every Bay Area city has a transfer tax. To get a better understanding of your overall costs at close, give our 5-star agents a call! We’re standing by to help make your home buying experience smooth and hassle free.

Torii is the simplest, most efficient way to buy Bay Area real estate. We put 5-star real estate agents, lenders, inspectors, and insurance agents at your fingertips. And we pay your closing costs too!

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