Ohio House Bill 292, which prohibits the future creation of transfer fee covenants, was signed into law on June 14, 2010 and will become effective on September 13, 2010. Transfer fee covenants in effect prior to September 13, 2010 are not affected by the new law.

Transfer fee covenants create revenue streams for real estate developers. A transfer fee covenant is created by a seller (the “Covenantor”), usually a real estate developer or builder. It requires subsequent buyers of the Covenantor’s grantee to pay a transfer fee back to the original Covenantor each time the property is sold. Transfer covenant fees generally range from 1% to 3% of the purchase price of the property and are payable to the Covenantor. 

Covenants often provide for a lien in favor of the Covenantor if the transfer fees are not paid. If recorded, the lien makes financing for future purchasers difficult because the lien created by the transfer fee covenant takes priority over the interest of a subsequent lender.

Transfer fee covenants may create problems for subsequent owners. The covenants require subsequent owners to pay the transfer fee to the original Covenantor, but as time passes, it may be difficult to determine to whom and where the fee should be paid. Transfer fee covenants also pose potential title problems because the covenant may only be contained in the original deed and could be missed during a title exam if the exam covers a shorter period of time than the typical 99-year existence of a transfer fee covenant.     

Creditors should obtain thorough title exams prior to issuing a loan or proceeding with a foreclosure action to avoid any potential problems created by existing permitted transfer fee covenants.