California Title Insurance Rates & Transfer Tax Calculator

Title insurance policyYou signed all the papers at closing, hugged the real estate agent and shook hands with the seller. The long journey to homeownership is finally over. You have big plans for your new house. Fresh paint, new carpet and a good cleaning are all in the plans. Then, there's a knock on the door and the visitors inform you that they're the "real" owners of the house. After some shouting, the home buyers discover that the sellers at closing were impersonating the legitimate owners who were on an extended vacation. The imposters simply broke into the home and contacted a real estate agent to sell the home. Does this really happen? Yes, and other problems include:

  • Deed errors (or omissions), such as the incorrect property boundaries
  • Mistakes in the property records that fail to uncover delinquent property taxes or liens on the property
  • Forgery that not only includes impersonation of the seller, but bringing in a fictitious spouse or alleged owner to the property.
  • Undisclosed heirs who claim ownership is a common issue. Heirs may still have ownership in the property if they did not sign off on their ownership in the property. Happened to me, and I had to go to court to have the heir removed from ownership.

To avoid any number of ownership complications, home buyers purchase title insurance at settlement. Title insurance protects you against problems due to human error or unknown issues.

Title insurance is regulated by the California Insurance Commissioner. Unlike many states, the title insurance rates in California can vary from title insurance company to title insurance company. The person who pays for the policy selects the title insurance company. You can find a list of the title insurance companies authorized to sell title insurance with the insurance commission's lookup tool. You can save money in California by shopping the cost of title insurance.

Some title insurance companies may offer discounts for:

  • for first-time home buyers,
  • a property that has been re-sold within the previous five years,
  • concurrent rate for both the owner's and the lender's title insurance policies in the transaction provided by the same title company
  • new subdivision bulk rate discount,
  • refinancing discounts,

CalculatorUnlike other forms of insurance, title insurance is a one time expense usually paid at settlement. Two title insurance policies are available, owner's and lenders. If you're purchasing a property with a mortgage, undoubtedly, the lender will require a title insurance policy covering the amount of money they are loaning you. The lenders' policy coverage decreases with the mortgage balance. Once the mortgage has been paid off, the title insurance coverage stops. The owner's policy continues for as long as a person has an ownership interest in the property.

California Title Insurance Rate and Fee Calculators

California Title Company
First American Title
Fidelity National Title Rate Calculator

What is a documentary and property transfer tax?

The transfer tax is a fee on the transfer of the title of real property from one person (or entity) to another within the California county. The cost of the transfer tax is based on the property’s sale price and may be paid by the buyer, seller, or both parties equally

Who pays the documentary and property transfer tax?

Two cartoons having a tug of warThe payment of the transfer tax can be negotiated between the buyer and seller, however, the seller usually pays for the county transfer tax. If there is a city tax, the cost again is typically paid pay the seller, although in some counties, the cost is shared equally between buyer and seller.

California Documentary and Property Transfer Tax Calculator

To estimate the California transfer tax go to Chicago Title Insurance web site and located the transfer tax rates and enter the amounts in the boxes below. Back space out the entered values if necessary and click "Calculate"

Sales Price    
Transfer Tax per thousand dollars  
County Transfer Tax  
City Transfer Tax  
Buyer Pays    
Seller Pays