SB 2, which went into effect on January 1, 2018, acted to implement an additional $75 recording fee for most real estate documents, up to $225 per transaction. The fee applies to any deed, grant deed, trustee’s deed, deed of trust, reconveyance, quit claim deed, fictitious deed of trust, assignment of deed of trust, request for notice of default, abstract of judgment, subordination agreement, declaration of homestead, abandonment of homestead, notice of default, release or discharge, easement, notice of trustee sale, notice of completion, UCC financing statement, mechanic’s lien, maps, and covenants, conditions, and restrictions.

Per the statute, the exemptions from the increased fee include those documents recorded in connection with a transfer subject to the imposition of a documentary transfer tax as defined in Section 11911 of the Revenue and Taxation Code or on any real estate instrument, paper, or notice recorded in connection with a transfer of real property that is a residential dwelling to an owner-occupier.

The imposition of this additional fee has resulted in documents being rejected for recordation by County Recorder offices based on improper calculation and tender of recording fees. To the extent that a transfer falls within an exemption, a clear written statement evidencing the exemption must be submitted along with the original executed document to be recorded or the increased fee will be charged by the Recorder.

While the increased fee is minimal, the larger impact to date has been revising real estate documents to effectively appease County Recorders (whose requirements for sufficiency of the exemption language inexplicably vary on a County by County basis) on exempt transactions so the transferor/transferee is not charged additional fees that are expressly exempted under this new California law.

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