Selling a Townhouse/Brownstone in NYC: Closing Costs

Real Estate Attorney NYC

Townhouse/Brownstone Closing Costs


Closing Costs for the sale of your Townhouse/Brownstone will be divided into four (4) different categories. The primary four (4) categories are:

  1. Brokerage Commission Fees;
  2. Adjustments;
  3. Bank Fees; and
  4. Taxes.
1. Brokerage Commission

1. Brokerage Commission

Brokerage Commissions vary, depending on the particular geographical region in which you are located and the particular market condition that you are in. For instance if you are in what is commonly known as a “Seller’s Market Place,” the Brokerage Commission may be a bit less, depending upon the aggressiveness of various Brokers. As a general rule a Brokerage Commission is 6% of the Purchase Price, so when getting ready to sell a property you should count on the Brokerage Commission being 6% of the Purchase Price. From experience, Brokers who are well versed in the particular area of selling House/Home (especially those that are well known in the industry) generally do not budge from the 6% position of their entitlement to a Brokerage Commission.

Most people agree that having a Broker involved with the particular transaction is a very positive maneuver. The Broker may assist in negotiating prices and maximizing the potential that a Seller will receive. Regardless, there are many Sellers that proceed with what is commonly known as “SBO” and/or a “FSBO” transaction, which is “For Sale By Owner.” This is dealt with in another section of this website entitled FSBO. It speaks for itself that a true “For Sale By Owner Transaction” you do not generally pay a Brokerage Commission. However, this is not always the case.

There are many instances in which although you are selling and announcing that the transaction is “For Sale By Owner” it may be that the Purchaser who actually visits the Unit is accompanied by a Broker. In such situations, the Broker is entitled to a Brokerage Commission. Sometimes there may be negotiations with that particular Broker so the 6% commission is not 6% but instead a lower commission structure. However under all circumstances, it is imperative to have your Brokerage Commission Agreement in writing. One should never be in a situation where the Brokerage Commission is a debatable proposition. As such, under all circumstances there must and should be written Brokerage Agreement.

2. Adjustments

2. Adjustments

Adjustments technically are not fees at all. They are exactly what they are stated to be “adjustments.” Adjustments are made to the following: (i) real estate taxes; (ii) fuel; (iii) water; and (iv) assessments.

(i)  Real Estate Taxes

A Seller should be entitled to be paid back for any time that they have prepaid any real estate taxes for that particular quarter, half, or year during which they do not own the Property. For instance, if you close on February 2 of any particular calendar year and have already paid the quarterly or annual tax bill until the end of the particular year, then you should be entitled to a credit/adjustment from the Purchaser commencing from February 2 through the end of December.  This is assuming that you have paid until the end of the year. If you are selling in New York City a title company will be readily able to make a determination as to whether payment has been made. Although, if payment has just been made by you immediately prior to the Closing and the New York City Department of Finance has yet to pick up the payment then it becomes imperative that in order to do an appropriate adjustment of Real Estate Taxes that you keep very accurate record of all Real Estate Tax payments. This means, that you need to demonstrate that you are entitled to the adjustment in question. You may do this by having a check marked paid.


(ii) Fuel

A Seller may ask its supplier of fuel to provide what is commonly known as a “dip stick test” to see what available on-site oil is still in the tank. Obviously, if your home uses gas this will differ by simply having a gas bill handy. Generally the Parties agree that the last gas bill should be indicative of the use in question. However, if you have oil/fuel and your company has provided you a reading of the amount of the fuel by doing a “dip stick test” i.e. going to the property and placing on a stick to obtain the level your fuel oil tank.  The supplier of the fuel will be able to provide you a written receipt indicating the amount of the fuel still stored in the tank and then providing you with the current cost of fuel at the time of the Closing. A Seller is entitled to be reimbursed for the amount of fuel left in the oil tank of the Property.

(iii) Water

If you run on what is commonly known as “frontage” then it should be an easy determination as to what has been paid as of the date of Closing.  A Seller who has already prepaid its “frontage” shall be entitled to an adjustment for the amount that they has already paid for at the period of time that they are no longer the Owner. For those who are actually using water on a meter, it is imperative that the Owner of the property/Seller order a water meter reading. The water meter reading should be requested at least 30 to 45 days prior to the Closing so that the water company has a sufficient amount of time to conduct the reading.

3. Bank Fees

3. Bank Fees.

  • Pay-off the Bank Fee/Pickup Fee: The Payoff Bank Fee/Pickup Fee ranges from the amount of $ 250.00 to $ 500.00. These are detailed arrangements which shall be coordinated by your Attorney with your Payoff Bank. It is very unadvised for you to make any arrangements to pay off your Bank Loan immediately preceding your effectuating a sale of House/Home. In many instances, this causes major confusion. This should be left to your Attorney to coordinate and organize with your Payoff Bank. Additionally, there are certain documents which need to be filed in order to ensure that your payoff appropriately occurs. You do not want to be liable for any further obligations underneath your loan. This must and should be left up to your Attorney to coordinate.
4. Taxes

4. Taxes

  • New York State Transfer Tax: The New York State Transfer Tax is 0.4% of the Purchase Price. This is a straight calculation by simply multiplying your Purchase Price by 0.4%. As such, if your Purchase Price, for example, is $ 690,000.00, you would go $690,000 × .004% to equal $2,760.00.
  • The New York State Non-Residency Tax: The New York State Non-Residency Tax is very highly overlooked and deals with those that are not full-time residents of New York State. The definition of who is not considered a full-time resident may be determined via conversations with your Attorney. However if you are a Non-Resident, you must calculate this tax as it is a rather hefty tax which must be paid at the time of the Closing. This tax is approximately 7.8% of your net profit from the proceeds. As such, there is and needs to be a calculation as to what your net profit is and the amount oftax that must be paid at the time of Closing to avoid penalties/taxes. If you are a Resident of New York State, you need not worry as this tax does not apply. If you are not a Resident of New York, then this tax is applicable to your transaction and must be discussed in detail with your Attorney or Accountant because as one may see, the tax may be rather large depending upon your profit. This is one of the few taxes that depend upon the net profit that you are actually making at the time of the Closing.
  • FIRPTA Non- Foreign Status Certification by Individual Transferor/Seller: FIRPTA is a tax that is applicable not only to Non-residents of New York State but also those who are deemed to be “Foreigners” as that term is defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Generally, while the withholding tax needs to be calculated by an Accountant, the bottom line is that for a Foreign Seller there is a 10% withholding of the Purchase Price at the time of Closing. This tax needs to be submitted to the Internal Revenue Service. As such, while the ultimate tax due to the Internal Revenue Service may be less, at the time of the Closing, (unless you have received other appropriate documentation that would indicate that less of an amount is due and owing) you will and should calculate that 10% of the Purchase Price will be withheld at the time of the Closing.

Closing Costs are unique and need to be carefully analyzed. Only through the assistance and expertise of Kishner Miller Himes may one fully understand the ramifications and obtain a true total of Closing Costs.