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Everything You Need to Know About Seller Proration in Real Estate

In real estate transactions, real estate seller proration is a common practice that divides certain expenses between the buyer and seller. While technical, this term touches upon the essence of fairness and balance in real estate transactions. It’s not just about numbers and dates; it’s about understanding the equitable distribution of responsibilities and benefits between the seller and the buyer.

This blog will provide a comprehensive overview of seller proration in real estate, including its definition, expenses subject to proration, how to calculate proration amounts, and its significance during the closing process. Additionally, you shall explore the role of online notary services in facilitating the remote execution of documents, ensuring a seamless and efficient closing experience in today’s digital age.

What is Real Estate Seller Proration?

Seller proration in real estate is a crucial financial adjustment made during the sale of a property. It ensures that the seller pays only their share of ongoing expenses up to the transfer point.

In order to calculate the exact value, the real estate seller’s costs are proportionally divided by the closing date. By allocating costs fairly, the seller can avoid bearing costs beyond their ownership period as part of the closing process.

Also, in real estate, it has become a common practice to notarize all your title and escrow documents to reinforce their existence.

Common Expenses Subject to Real Estate Seller Proration

Here are some ongoing expenses subject to real estate seller proration, each explained in detail:

Property Taxes

One of the most significant expenses subject to proration is property taxes. Since these taxes are often paid in advance, the real estate seller is responsible for the portion of the tax year they owned the property.

Sellers will receive a credit for the period after the sale, effectively reimbursing them for taxes paid.

Homeowners Association (HOA) Fees

If the property is part of a homeowners association, the real estate seller is responsible for the HOA fees during their ownership. These fees are typically paid monthly, quarterly, or annually.

For the time the seller owned the property, the remaining HOA fees will be credited or debited.

Utility Bills

Utilities like water, sewer, and sometimes garbage collection, often billed in arrears, are also subject to proration. The seller is responsible for these utility bills up until the closing date.

The exact amount is calculated based on the seller’s usage up to the transfer of ownership, ensuring they are only paying for utilities within their period of residence.

Mortgage Interest

If the seller has a mortgage on the property, the interest is prorated. As the real estate seller, you are responsible for the interest until the closing date. At closing, the seller will pay the interest due for the month they owned the property.

Accurate calculations and a clear understanding of these expenses are essential for a smooth closing process.

How to Calculate Real Estate Seller Proration

Calculating seller proration amounts can be complex, but the title company or escrow agent typically does it. By dividing the total expense by the number of days in the year, the proration amount can be calculated.

Here is how the entire process works:

  • Identify the Expenses to be Prorated: Common prorated expenses include property taxes, homeowners association (HOA) fees, and utility bills. Determine which of these apply to your property sale.
  • Determine the Proration Period: This is the time frame for which the real estate seller is responsible for the expenses. The billing period usually begins with the last payment date and ends with the sale closing date.
  • Calculate the Daily Rate for Each Expense: In a leap year, divide the annual tax amount by 366 (or 365) to find the daily tax rate.
    For HOA fees, divide the total fee by the number of days in the billing period (monthly, quarterly, etc.) For utilities, use the most recent bill to calculate a daily rate, dividing the total bill by the number of days in the billing cycle.
  • Multiply the Daily Rate by the Number of Days in the Proration Period: Count the days from the start of the proration period to the closing date. Multiply this number by the daily rate for each expense.
  • Adjust the Final Settlement Statement: The resulting figures are the amounts the seller owes for each prorated expense. These amounts are then adjusted on the final settlement statement, crediting or debiting the seller accordingly.

Working with a real estate professional or closing agent is often advisable to handle these calculations, as they can be complex, especially with varying billing cycles and rates.

Examples

Seller proration in real estate transactions can be illustrated through various real-life scenarios, each highlighting how this process ensures fairness in the allocation of expenses. Here are some examples:

  • Consider a scenario where the seller has prepaid property taxes for the entire year. If the property is sold halfway through the year, the real estate seller is entitled to a credit at closing for the remaining half of the year. This proration ensures that the seller is reimbursed for the portion of the tax year they won’t own the property.
  •  if the seller has paid HOA fees for the month, but the sale closes mid-month, they will receive a credit for the days they no longer own the property. This proration is calculated by dividing the monthly fee by the number of days in the month and multiplying by the number of days after the sale.
  • if the seller has paid for the entire month but the property is sold before the month ends, they will receive a credit for the unused portion. This amount is typically calculated based on the daily cost of the utility, prorated for the number of days the seller will not be in the property.

Conclusion

Understanding seller proration is essential for real estate buyers and sellers in real estate transactions. It ensures that both parties pay their fair share of expenses based on the time they own the property.

Common expenses subject to proration include property taxes, HOA fees, and utility bills. When the real estate seller owned the property for more than a year, expenses are prorated.
Check out our guide to proration in real estate contracts

The title company or escrow agent will adjust the final settlement statement according to the prorated expenses.