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Effective January 1, 2020, the recording costs of various types of real estate instruments in the State of Georgia will be simplified. Once implemented, this change will impact all individuals and businesses that purchase or finance properties in Georgia. 

Prior Law

Under the prior law, the cost of recording real estate instruments in the public record were calculated based upon the type of document, the number of pages it contained, and potential surcharges. In counties with higher populations, surcharges could be included for each filing. For example, if a county had a population greater than 550,000 (as of the 1970 US census), a $1.00 surcharge could be charged on real estate filings. Furthermore, if a county had a population within its unincorporated areas of greater than 350,000 (as of the 1980 US census), a 50¢ surcharge applied to the first page of each filing. This meant that closing professionals had to determine what type of material was being recorded, the number of pages it contained, and any additional surcharges that might or might not apply. Consequently, the calculations could be dizzying, even for experienced professionals!

Moving Forward

Starting next year, a flat fee will be charged for most document types, regardless of the number of pages (subject to certain exceptions).  The chart below shows comparisons of the fee structure for some typical filings:

Type of DocumentPrior Fee Structure*New Fee
Deed of Transfer (e.g., Limited Warranty Deed, Quitclaim Deed)$10.00 for the first page, $2.00 for each add’l page $25.00
Security Instrument or Modification of Security Instrument (e.g., Security Deed, ALR)$10.00 for the first page, $2.00 for each add’l page $25.00
Assignment, Cancellation, Satisfaction, or Release of Security Instrument (e.g., Security Deed, ALR)$5.00 for the first page, $2.00 for each add’l page, $2.00 for each cross-reference $25.00 per instrument
UCC Fixture Filing, Amendment, Continuation, or Termination  (county or state-wide)$10.00 for the first page, $2.00 for each add’l page $25.00
Liens and Cancellation of Liens (e.g., Fi.Fa., Lis Pendens, hospital lien)$5.00 for the first page, $2.00 for each add’l page, $2.00 for each cross-reference $25.00
Tax Liens and Cancellation of Tax Liens filed by state or local government agency$5.00 for the first page, $2.00 for each add’l page, $2.00 for each cross-referenceSame Fee Structure
Affidavit or Certificate (e.g., Scrivener’s Affidavit, Certificate of Trust)$10.00 for the first page, $2.00 for each add’l page, $2.00 for each cross-reference $25.00
Plat of survey$7.50 per page $10.00 per page

* These filing fees are based upon higher-populated county rates.

Lenders

It is highly recommended that lenders work with their vendors to ensure that the correct recording costs are included in the Good Faith Estimates (GFE) and Closing Disclosures for any transactions which might occur after December 31, 2019.  Likewise, any fees which are collected at the time of the loan closing for the future cancellation of the security instrument should be adjusted for any loans which are anticipated to be paid off and cancelled after December 31, 2019.

Buyers/Borrowers/Sellers

All parties should check the GFE and Closing Disclosure to ensure that the full and correct recording costs are included. For example, in a typical residential transaction, the new recording fee will be $50.00** (for a deed of transfer and a Security Deed).  For a typical commercial transaction, the new recording fee will be $125.00** (for a deed of transfer, Security Deed, Assignment of Leases and Rents, and a local/county and state-wide UCC-1 Fixture Filing).  These figures are solely for illustration of a typical Georgia transaction; specific costs will vary based upon the property, the parties, and the type of transaction.

**IMPORTANT NOTE:  Many counties in the State of Georgia have established the ability for e-recording of real estate materials.  The fees associated with e-recording are not impacted by this new law.

Pertinent References: 2019 Georgia Laws Act 231 (H.B. 288); Code Sections 15-6-77, et seq.

Beth Jones, Esq.
Thompson, O’Brien, Kemp & Nasuti, P.C.
Linkedin.com/in/beth-jones-atlanta
ejones@tokn.com | www.tokn.com