Private transfer fees, also known as reconveyance fees, recovery fees, capital recovery fees, or resale fees, is a charge that is required to be paid to a developer, HOA, or individual at closing each time a property is sold. The transfer fee is attached to the property as a covenant and usually runs for a set period, often 20 or 99 years. While developers say it is a way to spread improvement costs over a longer period, opponents believe private transfer fees decrease affordability, increase potential liability, and provide no benefit to property purchasers of the community in which the property is located. In 2012, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) issued a rule prohibiting the fees on mortgages handled by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks. As of 2014, 43 states explicitly prohibit private transfer fees in most situations.
Private transfer fees are different from impact fees, or development fees, which are expenditures that developers are required to make as a precondition to approval of their projects. Impact fees are generally used to finance roads, schools, affordable housing, transit systems, and other projects and services in municipalities throughout the United States. The fees are frequently passed on by developers to purchasers in the price of a new property and, therefore, increase the cost of housing and decrease the profitability of a particular project.
We've already done the research for you. References (formerly Field Guides) offer links to articles, eBooks, websites, statistics, and more to provide a comprehensive overview of perspectives. EBSCO articles (E) are available only to NAR members and require a password.
2015 National Impact Fee Survey
Image Source: 2015 National Impact Fee Survey (Duncan Associates)
According to the 2015 National Impact Fee Survey by Duncan Associates, average total fees charged by jurisdictions surveyed in 2015 are $11,868 for single-family units. Excluding utility fees, the average total fee is $8,298. School impact fees, although not charged in many states, are the highest, followed by water, wastewater, road, and park impact fees. Police, fire and library fees, on the other hand, tend to be relatively low. General government facility impact fees and storm water drainage impact fees are relatively uncommonly charged -- general government fees are not authorized in most states, and drainage fees are difficult to implement because they generally must be based on a comprehensive drainage master plan.
State Issue Tracker
REALTORS® can keep up with the latest state legislative activity surrounding private transfer and impact fees by accessing NAR's State Issue Tracker. This online database is available free to members and tracks legislative and regulatory actions at the state level on several issue of importance to REALTORS® and the real estate industry.
FHFA's Ban on Private Transfer Fees
Buyers Beware of Private Transfer Fees (realtor.com®, Jan. 15, 2015)
Private Transfer Fees: A Rule by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (Federal Register, Mar. 16, 2012)
Ban on Private Transfer Fees a Big Win for Buyers (REALTOR® Magazine, Mar. 16, 2012)
FHFA Publishes Final Rule on Private Transfer Fees (Federal Housing Finance Agency, Mar. 15, 2012)
Impact Fee Basics
Gov. Brown signs bill banning hidden property fees (KSBY, September 7, 2018)
Enterprising Government: The Political and Financial Effects of Fee-Supported Municipal Services (Public Adminstration Quarterly, Summer 2014) E
State Impact Fee Enabling Acts (Duncan Associates, Jan. 3, 2015)
Impact Fees: Crunching the Numbers (Tierra Grande, Oct. 2007)
Impact Fees: Paying for Progress (Tierra Grande, July 2007)
Development Impact Fees: A Primer (Duncan Associates)
The Impacts of Impact Fees
One Reason Housing is so Expensive in California? Cities, Counties Charge Developers High Fees (LA Times, Aug. 6, 2019)
How ‘Developer’ Became Such a Dirty Word (The New York Times, Jul. 29, 2019)
Road Wage: Some Officials Worry New Fee Could Hamper Growth (Central Penn Business Journal, Apr. 27, 2018) E
Developers Pay Developer Charges (Cities, Apr. 2018) E
Impact Fees Coupled with Conservation Payments to Sustain Ecosystem Structure: A Conceptual and Numerical Application at the Urban-Rural Fringe (Ecological Economics, Jun. 2017) E
Impact Fees and Employment Growth (Economic Development Quarterly, Nov. 2015) E
18K impact fee on new homes in Fort Mill passes on 5-2 vote (WSOC, June 28, 2018)
Impact Fee Handbook (National Association of Home Builders, 2016) — This Handbook was developed to provide homebuilders and other parties interested in impact fees a resource for exploring critical issues and to provide strategies for achieving balanced infrastructure financing solutions
2015 National Impact Fee Survey (Austin, TX: Duncan Associates, Nov. 11, 2015) — This report summarizes the results of a detailed survey of impact fees that individual jurisdictions across the country are charging. The results of the survey reveal where impact fees are most common, how much jurisdictions in various states are charging, and the types of facilities for which fees are being charged.
White Paper Report: Private Transfer Fees—Potential For Trouble, Problems for the Future? (National Association of REALTORS®, May 2008) — Member login required
Impact Fees & Housing Affordability: A Guide for Practitioners (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, June 2008) — This Guidebook includes information that is useful to local jurisdictions that are either in the process of implementing impact fees, or considering revisions to current impact fee programs. It includes information on history, alternative financing models, state legislation, impact fee design, and case studies
Policy Guide on Impact Fees (American Planning Association, 1997) — Policy guide from the APA in which eight policies and several standards are discussed
eBooks & Other Resources
A Guide to Impact Fees and Housing Affordability (Kindle, Audiobook, eBook)
Books, Videos, Research Reports & More
The resources below are available for loan through Member Support. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call Member Support at 800-874-6500 for assistance.
Bargaining For Development: A Handbook on Development Agreements, Annexation Agreements, Land Development Conditions, Vested Rights, and the Provision of Public Facilities (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Law Institute, 2003)
ImpactFees — Visit this site for state and local information, case law, publications, surveys, FAQs, and the latest news related to impact fees and infrastructure financing
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The inclusion of links on this page does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this page complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.