Jul. 21—Buying a home is about to get a little bit more expensive.
On July 26, recording fees at the Spokane County Auditor's Office will increase $100. It's a change brought on by House Bill 1277, which the state legislature passed this year. The purpose of the bill, and the fee increase it requires, is to generate more money for affordable housing and ending homelessness.
The fee increase applies to a wide range of documents that people are legally required to record at the county, where they become public record. The county maintains a vast library of documents that anyone can look up. If you want to know the history of a particular property, you can head on down to the auditor's office to do your research.
If you've never heard of recording fees, you're not alone — although you almost certainly paid the fees when you bought your house. The title company likely took care of the process for you.
Recording fees most often apply to real estate documents and transactions, especially home purchases and refinancings.
When you buy a house, you need a deed that shows the house is officially yours. You have to record that deed with the county.
If you can't pay for the house in cash, you'll also need a deed of trust. That documents your agreement with the bank that loaned you money for the purchase.
Home sales typically require both a deed and a deed of trust, so starting Monday, buying a home will be $200 more expensive.
Following the $100 fee increase, recording a document will now cost $203.50 for the first page. Recording additional pages will still be $1 per page.
Vista Title and Escrow CEO Anthony Carollo estimated deeds and deeds of trust make up 70% to 80% of the documents his company records at the county.
The fee change will also make recording mortgages, liens, community property agreements, surveys and plats $100 more expensive.
Spokane County Auditor Vicki Dalton emphasized that her office had nothing to do with the increase in fees and doesn't get any additional money because of the change.
The county only gets about $10 to record each document "until civilization ends," Dalton said. The vast majority of the fees go to the state, which then directs the money toward addressing affordable housing and homelessness issues.
The state has been increasing the price of recording fees over the years to raise more money for housing and homelessness, Dalton said.
For instance, in 1985 it cost $5 to record the first page of a document and $1 for every page thereafter.
In 2005, it was $22 for the first page. Then in 2012, it went up to $72. In 2019, it cost $101.50 and now it will be $203.50.
Some commercial liens can run about 50 pages, Dalton said, which means recording some documents could cost $250.
Carollo said he can see pros and cons to the new fees.
"Broadly speaking, and personally speaking, I'd be against anything that makes the homebuying, home selling process more expensive," he said.
At the same time, he noted that he approves of the state trying to help the homeless.
Increasing the cost of a $300,000 home by $200 probably isn't going to be all that big of a deal for a homebuyer, Carollo said. What's important, he said, is that the state uses the money from this fee increase responsibly. Voters should make sure elected officials use this money wisely, he said.
"If it creates more bureaucracy and that money doesn't get into the hands of those that need it, that's not good," he said.