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A 3-bed condo at 191 15th Street with relatively low taxes and common charges A 3-bed condo at 191 15th Street with relatively low taxes and common charges
Most buyers know that buying a home means paying property taxes and, if they sell, eventually paying transfer taxes. What many first-time buyers in New York City don’t realize is that when one buys a home, they may also be expected to pay mortgage recording taxes, but the surprise is understandable. Outside New York State, only six U.S. states (Alabama, Florida, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Tennessee) have a mortgage recording tax.

This article explains what mortgage recording taxes are, how they are calculated, why these taxes exist, and most importantly, how best to avoid them.

What Are Mortgage Recording Taxes?

Unless you purchase a home in a cash-only deal, you’ll be subject to a mortgage recording tax. As outlined on the NYC Department of Finance website, a mortgage recording tax “is charged when mortgages for property in New York City are recorded.” While other New York State residents also pay a mortgage recording tax, they typically pay less because, in New York City, buyers who finance their properties aren’t simply subject to a state mortgage recording tax but also one imposed by the city.

Who Pays and How Much?

As a rule, in New York City, the mortgage recording tax is 1.8% on any property under $500,000 and 1.925% on any property over $500,000. That said, there are some exemptions, and some properties, including commercial properties, are subject to even higher mortgage recording taxes. For a complete breakdown of applicable mortgage recording taxes, visit the New York City and New York State mortgage recording tax websites.

Why Do the City and State Tax Residents on Loans?

Dating back to 1906, New York State’s mortgage recording tax has long served as a way for the state to acquire additional taxes from residents. When it was originally imposed, it was set at 0.5%, and over a century later, the rate remains the same. In most parts of the state, the tax is paid to county treasuries. In New York City, the state mortgage recording tax is paid to the NYC general fund, but this isn’t the only tax collected and directed to the city’s general fund when New Yorkers finance a property purchase.
In 1971, New York City imposed its own mortgage recording tax at a rate of 0.5 percent. In 1982, in an attempt to acquire additional funds to support the New York City Transit Authority, the tax underwent its first increase. In 1990, the city increased its mortgage recording tax again, bringing it to the current level. A 2020 study by the Department of Finance reported an annual tax liability from mortgage recording taxes in excess of 1 billion, with $790.9 million earmarked for the NYC general fund and another $425.6 million earmarked for other local authorities, including the MTA, SONYMA, and the NYC Transit Authority.

Can You Avoid Mortgage Recording Taxes?

Fortunately, there are several ways to mitigate or avoid paying mortgage recording taxes in New York City.
First, as already stated, if you’re buying a property in a cash-only deal, you’re in luck since no mortgage means no mortgage recording tax. Of course, you’ll still be subject to future property and, if you sell, transfer taxes.
The most common way to avoid paying a mortgage recording tax in New York City is to purchase a co-op rather than a condo or another type of residential property. You might wonder why co-ops, but not condos and other residential properties, are exempt from the mortgage recording tax, and the answer is simple. When you purchase a co-op rather than a condo or house, you’re technically purchasing shares in a corporation rather than real property. As a result, you are exempt from paying mortgage recording taxes.
Another option is to apply for a Consolidation, Extension, & Modification Agreement or CEMA. Unique to New Yorkers, a CEMA helps buyers mitigate their tax liability when purchasing a property subject to mortgage transfer taxes. With a CEMA, the existing mortgage on the property is transferred to the buyer who, in turn, consolidates it with a new loan. The advantage to the buyer is that they are only expected to pay mortgage recording taxes on the amount of the new loan. For example, if a buyer purchases a condo with 20% down for $1 million and the seller still owes $500,000 on their current mortgage but the mortgage is transferred, mortgage transfer taxes will only be applied to $300,000 rather than $800,000. This tax loophole, while legal, is somewhat uncommon due to its onerous nature. Among other obstacles, both the seller’s lender and the buyer’s lender must agree to close the new loan as a CEMA.
If a cash-only deal, coop, or CEMA aren’t viable, there is one final way to mitigate or avoid mortgage recording taxes. If you simply want to lower your liability, consider buying in a New York State county that doesn’t impose a local mortgage recording tax on top of the state mortgage recording tax (e.g., Chemung, Chenango, Jefferson, Montgomery, Otsego, St. Lawrence, Tioga, or Ulster). If you want to remain within commuting distance to New York City and avoid paying mortgage recording taxes altogether, the best option is to simply move across the state line to New Jersey or Connecticut where there are no mortgage recording taxes.

Spacious Listings with Carrying Costs under $2K/month

Studios
From the Listing: This newly renovated pre-war loft home features soaring 12-foot ceilings and gorgeous views of Fifth Avenue. Apartment 6K at 372 Fifth Avenue features a full-size mint-condition kitchen with dishwasher, huge floor-to-ceiling windows with an eastern view, generous closet space, and a lofted bedroom ideal for additional storage and/or sleeping. See floor plan and full details here.

(Corcoran)
From the Listing: Wonderful light and 13' high ceilings are the first thing you notice when you enter this 843-square-foot, well-designed open loft. It is elegant and creative industrial chic. Having an open loft allows you to determine where you want to set up your living area, your bedroom area; you can be creative and change when you want to. The closet interiors are all custom designed and the laundry room has a large washer and dryer. Tremendous windows allow east light to enter throughout the day. Citi Quiet windows were installed so this apartment is silent. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: This very spacious, bright apartment with soaring 11-foot ceilings, can easily be converted to a 2-bed. The apartment has oversized windows with north and east exposures, open views, beautiful hardwood floors, large living and dining area, open contemporary kitchen with new stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, washer/vented dryer, jacuzzi tub, new central climate control and video intercom. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Meticulously crafted and lovingly maintained, this rare Duplex at 'The Rialto' encompasses the best in architecture and design with the ability to convert to a real one-bedroom with loft. Step into your open concept living area that features wide plank oak hardwood flooring throughout, 20-foot ceiling heights and a massive wall of windows flooding the space with natural light. The custom kitchen features Miele appliance package with vented hood and quartz countertops. The bathrooms are an intimate affair with natural stones and custom designed vanities of a timeless fashion. Low monthly charges and 3 years remaining on the 421-a tax abatement. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Enjoy true DUMBO living: ideal location, beautiful renovation, great light, tall ceilings! The elegant gallery leads you to a massive living and entertaining space with 11' tall ceilings and oversized windows looking out east. The home office doubles as the bedroom, located right across from the large bathroom and with its own spacious closet. The bathroom was just updated and has a soaking tub, a double sink, and a glass-enclosed shower. The chef's kitchen features top-of-the-line appliances as well as plenty of storage space and working surface. See floor plan and full details here.

One-Bedrooms
From the Listing: "Modern sophistication" describes this lovely corner line apartment located on the seventh floor in the one of the most well run full service co-ops in exclusive Sutton Place. Walk into the formal entry with powder room leading to the separate dining room complete with a built in bar. The lovely (square shaped) dining room joins to the open living room that is bright and spacious with a full wall of windows and large enough for two seating areas. The all white windowed kitchen has tons of storage and a pull-down shelf on the opposite wall for extra counter space. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Spacious 1,100-square-foot loft with tall ceilings and a 50-foot great room. This convertible two bedroom apartment has ample room for an additional home office area. Pin-drop quiet, renovated kitchen, and new central air conditioning system. 176 Broadway is a prewar limestone building with landscaped roof deck, new elevators, renovated hallways, laundry on every floor, storage, bike room, live-in super and part-time doorman. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Introducing residence 8J at 300 West, a northeastern-facing one-bedroom, one-bathroom, offering a spacious living/dining area that boasts custom White Oak herringbone flooring, central heating and air conditioning, and insulated oversized windows. The living area opens to a full custom kitchen designed by Paris Forino, complete with White Oak cabinetry and Carrara marble countertops and backsplash featuring plenty of dining space. This unique kitchen features a Sub-Zero refrigerator, Wolf oven and gas range, and Cove dishwasher. Each apartment is equipped with a washer/dryer hook-up for your convenience. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Over-sized 1,055-square-foot studio loft features a king-sized bedroom, a beautiful Art Deco bathroom with a soaking tub, a grand entry foyer extending into an expansive hallway/gallery, plentiful storage, and an in-unit washer and dryer. Flooded with natural sunlight from eastern exposures, this home is completed with approximately 12-foot soaring ceilings and bamboo hardwood flooring throughout. The kitchen comes equipped with full-sized stainless-steel Bosch and GE appliances, a large center island that can comfortably accommodate two stools, sleek slate countertops, and custom-made reclaimed wood built-in shelves to be used for art display or storage. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Easy living in this comfortable, convertible split two-bedroom, two-bathroom gem. This updated space is super functional and lives large, with a generous open plan living, dinning and kitchen that suits many styles. Enjoy high ceilings, large north-facing windows and great wall space for your art collection or shelf life. The open chef's kitchen features white lacquer cabinets, loads of prep space, high-end appliance package and enough room for ALL the chefs! See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Unit 1 is a graciously configured 1-bedroom / 1 and a half-bath residence with very large basement. This home is blessed with a massive custom outdoor space which also allows for an abundance of natural light throughout the day. Upon entry to the home, you are greeted with a warm and substantial kitchen area with gorgeous stainless steel Bosch appliances and abundant storage space. The living room opens to a charming and versatile outdoor space. You will relish in the verdant greenery, fresh air, and natural south-facing sunlight throughout the year. The living space also boasts multiple functionality with a custom-built wooden desk to provide a conducive work space in the home of your dreams. For contracts signed on or before June 15, we offer 1 year free common charges, 1 year free real estate taxes, and $5,000 credit at closing. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Spacious, bright one-bedroom features hardwood floors approximately 12' ceilings, a renovated bathroom with washer/dryer in unit, a pass through kitchen with stainless steel appliances, wood cabinetry, decorative tile backsplash and floors. Facing east onto Broadway, this unit features great natural light through the oversized windows. There are loads of closets throughout, including a very large, outfitted closet. The marble tile bathroom is recently renovated and features a shower/tub combination, a linen closet and a stacked Bosch washer/dryer. This apartment can be combined with an adjacent studio office B3L which features a full bathroom. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Designed by Armani Casa, the aesthetic has influenced every detail in creating a spectacular full lifestyle experience at 20 Pine. The modern kitchen features high-end appliances from Miele and Sub-Zero, Fisher & Paykal, and a washer/dryer is included. Concealed by wood cabinetry they seamlessly integrate these units into the living rooms, while maintaining an absolute elegant aesthetic. The bathroom is a true haven , outfitted in handsome stone and exotic woods, and featuring the ultimate in pampering; a recessed rain shower, and a deep soaking bathtub. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Be prepared to fall in love with this stunning and bright garden-level duplex home, which has been transformed into an artfully executed modern home. Upon entering, you will find a large dining area, where you can experience cooking into an open windowed kitchen, equipped with stainless steel appliances, black granite countertops, and chocolate-stained cabinets; one full bathroom, and one bedroom currently used as a living room, oversized windows, floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors leads you to a lovely deck where you can enjoy your morning tea or coffee, catwalk to a magnificently planted and crafted private garden, well-suited for seamless outdoor living and entertaining. The building has a 25-year 421-A tax abatement (expires in 2033). See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Come see this truly unique offering of an exquisitely fully redesigned, pin-drop quiet, triple-mint, convertible two-bedroom condo! Unit 4R features hardwood floors, crown molding, and recessed lighting throughout. The large and expansive living and dining rooms are great for both entertaining and everyday use. Prepare your favorite meal in the renovated pass through kitchen featuring Viking appliances. See floor plan and full details here.

Two-Bedrooms
From the Listing: This spacious two-bedroom, two-bathroom duplex is wonderfully housed in a beautiful elevator Beaux Art building directly on West End Avenue. Enter the first floor level with over 9-foot ceilings, hardwood floors, and a southwest facing living/dining room space with a wood burning fireplace. There is a large pass through windowed kitchen with stainless steel appliances including a Sub-Zero refrigerator, dishwasher, stove, microwave, cherry wood cabinets and granite countertops. Also offered are the air conditioning units in each of the main rooms as well as the television sets. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Perched on the 8th floor of the established Warner Condominium, #8F features high beamed ceilings and dramatic proportions set across 2 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms. Enter into an oversized foyer which leads to your airy living and dining room. A large and deep cedar closet and additional coat closet are present immediately upon entry. The living room has 2 large windows facing east, and original moldings continue throughout. The windowed eat-in kitchen is set off the living room, and one could renovate to create a more open-concept layout. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Lovely views, gorgeous light and exceptional layout highlight this palatial, quiet, top-floor unit in the highly sought-after Chelsea Gardens coop. Featuring triple exposures - north, south and a bonus western exposure in the living room - every room is airy and filled with abundant, glorious light. The extra-wide foyer parlays into an expansive living room with 9.5’ ceilings and dining room that opens to the windowed chef's kitchen. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Spectacular two-bedroom, two-bath condo with panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline, Empire State and East River. Apartment 26E provides oversized bay windows, a large living room, windowed kitchen with Sub-Zero fridge, and central A/C. The primary bedroom has a private balcony and an en suite bath. Building amenities include a health club and spa, pool, and landscaped outdoor space along with a kids’ indoor playroom and outdoor play area. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: This absolutely stunning full-floor loft with two bedrooms, two full baths, four exposures and wonderful high ceilings also comes with interest in large retail space with enormous cash flow more than offsetting maintenance! Spectacular light floods the space through huge windows with open views from midtown to downtown. The current owners have done a complete update of the space including a beautiful open kitchen with custom cabinets, granite counters and top-of-the-line appliances. See floor plan and full details here.

Three-Bedrooms
From the Listing: This light apartment includes 3 bedrooms and 1.5 baths. The large private balcony faces east ,north and south. The windowed kitchen is waiting for your design. It is in a doorman building with a lovely garden, live-in super, gym, children’s play area, bike room, storage area, and garage. Bring your contractor and create the Upper West Side home of your dreams! See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: This exquisite apartment on a tree-lined street is truly a one-of-a-kind find and the large garden makes this a super special home. Over 1,400 square feet of interior space are distributed among a large living room, a spacious kitchen, two bedrooms and large bonus room on the lower level with its own full bathroom and plenty of space. The apartment features multiple working fireplaces, a fully renovated kitchen and bathrooms, re-finished hardwood floors, and an expansive private backyard / garden which receives an abundance of light throughout the day. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Your new home is a renovated full floor "penthouse loft" with open northern and southern views that happily marries pre-war charm with modern efficiency. Pass through the threshold onto meticulously maintained original hardwood plank floors and take in the grand expanse of your 42-foot-long living room complete with 12.6-foot high ceilings, skylight and even a decorative fireplace that can easily be converted into a working one! You will love the classic exposed brick walls, quintessential for New York City brownstones. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Residence 326 is an expansive, quiet sun-filled three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom unit complete with a large open kitchen fully equipped with Quartzite countertops, marble backsplash, Viking appliances, and a breakfast bar. This turnkey home also features an in-unit washer dryer, marble and porcelain bathrooms, hardwood oak flooring, generous built-in closets, and oversized insulated sliding windows, all for your move-in ready convenience. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Tucked away on 15th St, this stunning 1,560-square-foot home will take your breath away with its soaring 18’ ceiling and wall of windows. The pristine kitchen has great cabinet space, Frigidaire appliances, and a peninsula breakfast bar. In addition to the incredible living/dining area that measures a 19’ x 19,’ there is a 860-square-foot terrace right off the living room. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Located in a West Soho landmark townhouse, #6 has its own entrance, a small balcony, and views of a beautiful landscaped courtyard. The living room has wood floors, feature fireplace, built-in TV cabinet. The open kitchen boasts tons of built-in storage, Sub-Zero fridge, Viking Stove, Kitchen Aid dishwasher and English Lake District slate counters. A private storage cage is included with the apartment. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Just 2 flights up is this gorgeous floor-thru condo, lovingly maintained by one owner, in like-new, immaculate condition. Currently configured as a 2-bedroom + den + separate dining room, this spacious layout gives you flexibility thanks to its oversized northern and southern facing windows and a centrally located expansive skylight. Enormous 11-foot ceilings and an exposed brick decorative fireplace offer charm and sophistication that you can’t find in a cookie-cutter highrise. The crown jewel of this home is the attached sun-flooded private roof deck. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Immaculate and beautifully renovated, this 2,298 square foot garden duplex is located on one of the neighborhood's most desirable streets. Housed in a 46-unit condominium, this special home has its own designated entrance and therefore, is reminiscent of townhouse living. Enjoy a fully outfitted chefs kitchen featuring high-end appliances like Liebherr, Miele and Wolf. Superb storage concealed by custom Brazilian cabinetry designed by Florense. Whether one prefers sun bathing or star-gazing, a large north facing garden affords both fresh air and privacy. 421A 25-year tax abatement through 2029. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: This neo-Grec style brownstone was designed by Amzi Hill in 1879 for prolific developer Bernard Fowler. The dramatic lower duplex totals 2,936 square feet, 45 feet deep with a 27-foot extension on the parlor floor. Soaring ceilings, six oversized windows and three exposures provide an abundance of light. The details include crown moldings, classics casings, medallions, and a carved stone decorative fireplace with a pier style mirror accent. The extension on the parlor floor houses the 5-windowed kitchen that overlooks the private garden area. See floor plan and full details here.

Four-Bedrooms
From the Listing: Welcome to #4B, a corner unit located in the Magnolia Mansions Lofts. The first floor of this home features an airy grand living room with 4 large windows, an updated windowed kitchen with an abundant amount of cabinet and countertop space, a full size bathroom and 4th bedroom. The open concept kitchen creates the perfect environment for entertainment. Making your way upstairs, you have an opportunity to really take in the grand feeling of this home. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: This sumptuous home retains most of its period details and has been fully renovated including original wood paneling, wooden doors, and parquet floors having been meticulously restored. Light and spacious throughout, the apartment combines 10-foot + ceilings with three exposures; east, west, and south. The corner formal dining room is separated by sliding pocket doors from a living room with a fireplace and beautifully carved mantelpiece. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Welcome home to 480 Degraw, spacious modern condominiums in Carroll Gardens. Each home features either a private garden or sizable private terrace fully equipped with direct gas and water lines. Inside, crafted steel features, sustainable Blonde Douglas Fir millwork, built-in paneled appliances, and double drawer dishwashers by Fisher and Paykel adorn custom kitchens. Bathrooms feature Jason Wu matte black bath hardware, Duravit sinks, Toto toilets, terrazzo floor tiles and full wall back painted glass and mirror accents. See floor plan and full details here.

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Contributing Writer Cait Etherington Cait Etherington has over twenty years of experience working as a journalist and communications consultant. Her articles and reviews have been published in newspapers and magazines across the United States and internationally. An experienced financial writer, Cait is committed to exposing the human side of stories about contemporary business, banking and workplace relations. She also enjoys writing about trends, lifestyles and real estate in New York City where she lives with her family in a cozy apartment on the twentieth floor of a Manhattan high rise.