Alameda County Real Estate Transfer Taxes: An In-Depth Guide (2024 Update)

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By Jon Stubbs Updated March 21, 2024

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How much are transfer taxes? | Who pays transfer taxes? | When are transfer taxes paid? | Methodology

The current transfer tax rate across California is $1.10 per $1,000, which is paid to the county. So, for a house worth $765,197 — the median home price in the state — the transfer tax due to the county will be $842. However, you may end up paying much more than that in certain cities in Alameda County.

Cities may charge their own transfer tax on top of the county fees, so final tax bills will vary greatly depending where the home is located. For example, San Francisco has no additional transfer tax, but Berkeley and Oakland have some of the highest realty transfer taxes in the U.S., charging up to $25.00 per $1,000 for the most expensive homes.

The specifics on who pays the transfer tax in Alameda County are sometimes up for negotiation, but usually the buyer pays.

Clever Real Estate can help you cut costs here — our concierge team will partner you with an experienced agent who can help you negotiate a good deal with your buyer on transfer taxes. You'll save big by paying only 1.5% in commission, which is much less than the California average of 2.69%.

💰 Find an agent who can negotiate your transfer taxes

You can't change transfer tax rates. But, an experienced Clever Real Estate agent can help you win the negotiation battle so you aren't stuck paying all of the transfer taxes on your own.

When you choose Clever, you'll work with a full-service realtor with transfer tax expertise in your local market.

Clever's service is totally free, with zero obligation — you can walk away at any time.

What are transfer taxes?

Most states in the U.S. charge real estate transfer taxes. Typically, any time you buy property, whether it be a house or a vehicle, you are required to pay a tax on the transfer of that property. If you live in a state that has transfer taxes, any time property changes hands, a transfer tax (and possibly other fees) are due.

While most states require transfer taxes, these rates vary depending on the area in which the property is transferred. How much you’ll be expected to pay and who is expected to pay are two aspects of transfer taxes that can change drastically based on the state, city, and even the locality in which you live.

Whether you’re buying or selling, it’s critical that you work with a local real estate agent who can help you through the process, explain transfer taxes, and ensure you understand the process completely.

By working with a reputable expert, you’ll be able to ensure that you know what to expect and are prepared for the costs involved in transferring property in Alameda County.

Who pays transfer taxes in Alameda County: The buyer or the seller?

In California, transfer taxes are typically referred to as a documentary transfer tax. They’re called this because when the ownership of a property changes hands, the ownership transfer document (grant deed, for example) needs to be recorded in the county recorder’s office where the property is located. The county recorder, under the Revenue and Taxation Code, collects a "transfer fee" on behalf of the State Board of Equalization.

Who pays the transfer tax in California varies by region. In Northern California, the buyer normally pays. In Southern California, the seller pays the tax. In Central California, it can be a mixture of both. This means in Alameda County, if you are a buyer, you will often be required to pay the tax - though keep in mind, this is not set in stone. It is common for buyers and sellers to negotiate who actually pays the transfer tax during the closing process.

There are also some exemptions to having to pay transfer taxes in Alameda County. For example, transfers that are a "gift" with no money being involved, transfers between individuals and their Revocable Trusts, and transfers between spouses for no value do not require you to pay a transfer tax. In short, if there is no money being made from the sale, transfer taxes don’t have to be paid.

How much are transfer taxes in Alameda County?

The county tax rate is the same across the state of California. This means that every county, including Alameda, has a rate of $1.10 per $1,000 of the assessed property value. So, if you purchase a house that costs $600,000, you are required to pay $600 in county transfer taxes.

However, depending on which city the property is located in, you or the buyer may owe city-level transfer taxes in Alameda County.

CityHome valueTransfer tax amount
AlamedaAll values$12.00 per $1,000
AlbanyAll values$15.00 per $1,000
BerkeleyUp to $1.6 million$15.00 per $1,000
BerkeleyAbove $1.6 million$25.00 per $1,000
EmeryvilleUp to $1 million$12.00 per $1,000
Emeryville$1 million to $2 million$15.00 per $1,000
EmeryvilleAbove $2 million$25.00 per $1,000
HaywardAll values$8.50 per $1,000
OaklandUp to $300,000$10.00 per $1,000
Oakland$300,001 to $2 million$15.00 per $1,000
Oakland$2,000,001 to $5 million$17.50 per $1,000
OaklandAbove $5 million$25.00 per $1,000
PiedmontAll values$13.00 per $1,000
San LeandroAll values$11.00 per $1,000
Source: Alameda County Office of Auditor-Controller/Clerk-Recorder

Using the same base amount of $600,000, a property being transferred in Oakland would be charged an additional $9,000 in city transfer taxes. This is quite a jump from only $600 in county transfer taxes, bringing the total to $9,600 - almost 2% of the home's value! However, if you were to buy or sell a house in San Francisco, which is also in Alameda County, you are not required to pay any city transfer taxes. This is because they have elected not to defer to the county, and not require an additional tax on the sale of a home.

Usually, the seller’s agent will obtain a check from the seller that covers the amount of the transfer tax before the deed is recorded. However, just because you’re a buyer doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. In some cases, the buyer is responsible.

This is why it’s so important to talk to your real estate agent and obtain expert guidance throughout the home buying and home selling process.

Can you deduct transfer taxes?

Typically, you can’t deduct transfer taxes when it comes time to file your tax return. However, if you’re using the property in question as a rental home or investment property, you can sometimes write it off as a business expense.

That being said, in most cases that involve the traditional sale or purchase of property not related to business transactions, you won’t be able to write off the cost of the transfer taxes.

However, if you're a home buyer, there might still be a light at the end of the tunnel. If you pay transfer taxes, you can roll the tax payments into the cost basis of the property. The cost basis of the property is essentially what you had to pay in order to obtain the property, and is used to calculate the amount of capital gains taxes you’ll owe. If the property is sold in the future, these offsets can help reduce your tax payments.

In situations where the seller is responsible for paying the transfer taxes, the property is already being sold, so this won’t be much help to them. As a seller, it's wise to plan for the cost of paying transfer taxes far in advance - even as early as listing your property - so you're not blindsided by an unexpected cost at the end of the sale.

When do you pay transfer taxes in Alameda County?

Transfer taxes are paid at the closing of a deal, and in most cases are paid by the seller. So, when you're filing your taxes, sellers should be sure to deduct the transfer tax from their capital gain.

This is especially important because capital gains tax is paid to the federal government and the transfer tax is paid to the state government. So, chances are, you'll be paying both these taxes separately, and at different times.

Other considerations

Regardless of who pays the transfer taxes, you can expect them to be paid on closing day. Keep in mind, real estate transactions are also subject to a variety of additional taxes on the federal, state and local levels. These are all costs that are important to take into account before buying or selling a home in Alameda County.

An experienced agent can help you understand the fees and taxes that apply to your location, advocate for you through the process, and help you obtain the best outcome. Knowing what’s ahead can help you plan accordingly so you don’t run into any surprises that could be financially detrimental. Both buyer’s agents and seller’s agents can help you get the best deal, find rebates where available, and some — like Clever Partner Agents — work for 1.5% commission.

We’ll partner you with a local real estate agent who knows how to deal with the state’s tax and helps negotiate a deal in your favor. What’s more, our agents charge only a 1.5% listing fee compared to the state average of 2.69%! The money you'll save can more than offset the cost of the transfer taxes.

» SAVE: Learn more about how a Clever agent can help you navigate California transfer taxes

Methodology

  • Transfer tax amounts are based on government website information as of February 2024.
  • We gathered our listing commission rate data from a December 2023 survey of 630 of our partner agents.
  • Home values, list prices, and sale prices are based on Zillow data as of January 2024.

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