Quick Takeaways

  • Private Transfer Fees are charges required to be paid to developers, HOAs or individuals at closing each time a property is sold.
  • Development Impact fees are required to be paid by developers as a precondition to the approval of their projects.
  • These fees impact housing price, affordability, and availability in cities, towns, and regions that are undergoing development.

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 2023, 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. In 2024, the Supreme Court ruled that homeowners, builders, and developers can now challenge improper local impact fees for housing development.

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