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Roundtrip transaction costs

Last Updated: Apr 28, 2009

A crucial consideration when buying property

The costs of buying and selling residential property vary considerably across countries. In Russia and Bulgaria, transaction costs can reach around 25% of the property value for a typical transaction of a resale property (this includes VAT, because untypically, Bulgaria levies VAT on sale of old properties).

On the other hand, property buyers will be relieved to know that transaction costs are very low in Estonia, Slovakia and Lithuania, typically below 4%. Transaction costs in the UK are near the bottom of the scale at around 5%.

Roundtrip transaction costs (as the Global Property Guide defines them) are the total costs of buying and selling a residential property, including legal fees, sales and transfer taxes, registration fees, and real estate agents’ costs and fees. The Global Property Guide always calculates these costs from the perspective of the non-resident foreign buyer.

Property transaction costs: an international comparison:

Property transaction costs in Africa
Property transaction costs in Asia
Property transaction costs in Caribbean
Property transaction costs in Europe
Property transaction costs in Latin America
Property transaction costs in Middle East
Property transaction costs in North America
Property transaction costs in Pacific

The Global Property Guide provides transaction costs in two formats:

1. Transaction costs as a range.

We give a range, because the costs paid by buyers and sellers vary widely. Agents and lawyers costs are often negotiable. Purchasers of expensive properties often pay proportionately less registration fees than purchasers of new properties. The reasons for the variation are explained in detail in the footnotes.

Transaction costs as a range example: Philippines

2. Transaction costs ‘typical case’.

We provide 'typical case' transaction costs in order to allow comparison between different countries. For the comparison, the following assumptions are adopted:

  1. The property purchased by a non-resident in the country where he/she is buying
  2. The property worth US$250,000 (€250,000 for Europe)
  3. Is paid in cash
  4. Is a condominium located in a major city

Transaction costs comparison example: Asia

Our method for calculating transaction costs.

Some transaction costs are difficult to quantify. Others are very subjective. For the purpose of our research we focus on four major costs:

  • Registration costs are the fees and taxes incurred in registering the property with the competent land cadastre or registry. These include registration fees, stamp duties, and notary fees.
  • Real estate agent fees best capture various search costs. Real estate agent acts as a middleman in a property purchase, matching buyers with sellers, acting as intermediary in price negotiations. Typically assist buyers during the registration process.
  • Legal fees are paid to lawyers or to the conveyancer in the preparation of sales and purchase agreement. In some countries, the use of lawyers is mandatory. Lawyers are typically asked to ensure that there are no liens on the property. Legal fees are different from notary fees.
  • Sales and transfer taxes are imposed by local and national governments on the sale and purchase of real estate. They include Deed Taxes, Transfer Taxes and Value-added Tax (VAT).

Other incidental costs such as survey fees, acquisition fee for tax number or residency permit or costs for setting up a company are not included. Annual property taxes and capital gains taxes are also not included, although they are typically paid before the property is registered.


Global Property Guide Research, with inputs from local real estate agents, government agencies and
World Bank Doing Business website


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