Massachusetts tax stamps What Are Massachusetts Tax Stamps?

One of the things that I have realized over the years while representing Massachusetts home sellers is that many are entirely unaware that there is a tax to sell your home!

While it is true that if you live in Massachusetts, you come to grips quickly that just about everything gets taxed, sometimes this tax law is forgotten.

If you have never sold a Massachusetts home before, you may not even realize it exists. This tax on selling a home is known as the Massachusetts tax stamps. In most areas of Massachusetts, the tax stamp equals $4.56 per thousand dollars of the home’s sales price.

Tax stamps are one of the most significant closing costs for a seller.

Example of How Massachusetts Tax Stamps Work

So, for example, if you sell your home for $400,000, you would owe the State of Massachusetts $1824.00 ($4.56 x 400). The money paid for the tax stamps is income given to the appropriate registry and is forwarded to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Revenue.

While most of my Real Estate sales are in Middlesex, Worcester, and Norfolk Counties, it should be noted that in Barnstable County, the tax rate is $5.70 per thousand so the cost involved with selling a property is slightly higher.

The Dukes and Nantucket Counties also charge an additional 2% of the sales price that gets paid to the local land bank commission.

One of the things I always do with my clients is explain all the costs involved with selling their home or condominium. Nobody likes surprises, especially when they will be coming out of their wallet!

Besides a Real Estate commission that can vary but will likely fall between 4% to 6%, the Massachusetts transfer tax (stamp tax) is the largest expense a seller will have to be prepared for.

So, what expenses can you expect to have when selling a Massachusetts home?

Real Estate Commission

The commission for a Realtor is the most significant expense when selling a house in Massachusetts. Commissions are variable expenses. Real Estate companies and agents are free to charge whatever they choose as a desired fee.

Generally, you can expect to pay between 4-6 percent of the sale price when selling your home.

Attorney Fees

Attorneys Fees. I am a firm believer that every seller should have legal representation. Having a good lawyer representing your interests is cheap compared to dealing with the cost of problems that could crop up without representation.

A Real Estate attorney in a home sale can do everything from reviewing legal contracts such as the offer form or the standard Massachusetts purchase and sale agreement (P&S) to attending the closing either with you or as power of attorney.

Most buyers will have an attorney, and they will make changes to the standard P&S. Realtors are prohibited from giving legal advice and should not be relied on to counsel you on this agreement.

You will be at risk without a complete understanding of the document. Legal representation can vary quite a bit depending on the scope of the work.

As a ballpark, you can expect to pay anywhere from $400-$1500. Obviously, you will be closer to the $300 on a standard purchase and sale review and closer to $1500 if you have a more complex transaction, and the lawyer will attend the closing for you.

Massachusetts Home selling expenses Massachusetts Title V Septic Inspection

Massachusetts Title V. The Massachusetts Title V is an expense every seller in Massachusetts has to pay if their property is not serviced by public sewer.

State law states that a Title V inspection must be completed upon the transfer of Real Estate. You can expect to pay around $800-1200 for a Title V inspection.

The cost could become higher if the septic tank or distribution box is in an area that is hard to dig up.

This septic expense would also include the pumping fee. Most of the time, the septic system will get pumped at the time of the Title V inspection.

Remember that a Title V septic inspection is good for two years. The septic certification can also be extended for a third year if you pump the system in all three years.

Getting The Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detector Certification

Smoke Detector and carbon monoxide detector certification. In Massachusetts, you must have your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors inspected before closing.

The inspections are done by the local fire department in the town you are located in. The charge for inspecting the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors is around $25-$100.

You should be aware that there have been new regulations surrounding Massachusetts smoke detector laws. These new laws could impact the cost of selling your home if you need to install more or new detectors. I would suggest clicking the link to read further about the changes in the law.

Have an Attorney Prepare a New Deed

Preparing a new deed. In Massachusetts, the seller is responsible for preparing a new deed that gets recorded at the registry.

The preparation of a new deed is usually $100-$150 and is done by the attorney representing you or possibly the closing attorney if you do not have legal representation.

There will also be some small miscellaneous costs for mailing and filing fees that will be added to your HUD settlement statement at the closing.

These fees include overnight mailing, courier services, wiring expenses, charges for processing mortgage discharges, and recording fees for recording various documents at the Registry of Deeds.

These miscellaneous expenses will usually amount to a few hundred dollars.

Final Thoughts on Massachusetts Tax Stamps

Real Estate surprises are never fun, especially when they involve your money! You should now have a much better understanding of how tax stamps in Massachusetts work and the other home-selling expenses.


About the Author: The above Real Estate information on Massachusetts tax stamps was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 36+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I am passionate about real estate and love sharing my marketing expertise!

I service Real Estate sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.