What Are Seller and Buyer Prorations?

Definition & Examples of Seller and Buyer Prorations

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Seller and buyer prorations are a common practice in real estate closing transactions. They are credits and debits designed to ensure that both parties are paying their fair share of the costs associated with the home.

Many purchase contracts used in real estate contain provisions for prorations between sellers and buyers. Before signing a purchase contract, you should read it to find out how prorations are handled, because you might want to propose a change in the verbiage about them. Learn more about how various types of prorations work so you know what to look for.

What Are Seller and Buyer Prorations?

There are a variety of costs involved in owning a home, and the homeowner typically pays for these at various intervals throughout the year. Because a sale usually takes place sometime during the year and even in the middle of a month, the seller and buyer have to work out how to share those costs for that specific month and year.

Prorations are credits between the buyer and seller at closing that ensure each party is only paying these costs for the time that they owned the home. They will show up as debits or credits on each party's closing statement.

How Prorations Work

In most cases, buyers are charged for prorations, and they show up as a debit on the buyer's closing statement and as a credit on the seller's closing statement. This is because the seller has already paid many of the relevant costs. The credits increase the seller's net profits and reimburse the seller for items they have prepaid for the period the seller will not own the property.

For instance, if the seller has already paid property taxes in advance for the year, the buyer will need to credit a prorated portion of those taxes back to the seller for the remaining days of the year in which the seller will no longer own the home. This prorated amount will show up as a credit on the seller's closing statement and a debit on the buyer's closing statement.

Ultimately, the direction of the credit and debit will depend on when each specific type of cost is paid in your area.

Types of Prorations

There are various fees and expenses that might be prorated at a real estate closing. Here are some of the most common ones.

Mortgage Interest Prorations

Unlike rent, which is paid in advance, mortgage interest is paid in arrears. When you pay a mortgage payment on January 1, for example, it pays the interest for December. On a new mortgage loan, lenders want to collect interest up to 30 days before the first mortgage payment is due, so if you close on, say, November 15, your first mortgage payment will be due January 1. As the borrower, you will be charged 15 days of interest on your closing statement, from November 15–30. To figure out your interest proration in this scenario, use the following formula:

  • Loan Amount * Interest Rate = Annual Interest
  • Annual Interest / 12 Months = Monthly Interest
  • Monthly Interest / 30 Days = Daily Interest
  • Daily Interest * 15 Days (November 15–30 = Interest Debit Proration

The same principle applies to sellers who must pay interest in conjunction with a loan payoff. The seller in the above scenario would owe interest for November 1–15. In this case, both seller and buyer have a prorated debit charged to their account.

Real Property Tax Prorations

Property tax calendars vary by state and municipality. Some states collect property taxes in advance, some collect in arrears, and some collections depend on the time of year. What's most important at this juncture is whether your closing period involves prepaid taxes. If the taxes are prepaid, and you are the seller, you will receive a credit. If the taxes are prepaid, and you are the buyer, you will be charged. The opposite is true if taxes are not yet due and payable—sellers will receive a debit proration and buyers a credit proration.

In some situations, even if the taxes are not yet due and payable, your taxes will be due if your closing date is near the normal date for collecting taxes. In that case, the closer will pay the taxes from the seller's proceeds, credit the unused portion to the seller, and charge the buyer accordingly. Some calculating buyers will ask for no tax prorations in the purchase contract if it is apparent that the buyer will be expected to reimburse the seller for a portion of prepaid taxes.

If you are a seller and accept the buyer's terms for no tax prorations, you will pay taxes for a period during which you did not occupy the property.

Homeowner Association Dues Prorations

If a seller has not yet paid homeowner association dues, they will be paid from the seller's proceeds, and the seller will receive a credit for the unused portion. For example, if the dues are $300 a month, the daily proration is $10. When a transaction closes on the 10th of the month, the seller will be charged 10 days of HOA dues ($100). The buyer will pay $200 for the remaining 20 days of HOA dues.

Rent Prorations

Rent is generally paid in advance. Buyers who purchase an investment property expect to receive a credit for that portion of the rent, which covers the period the buyer will own the property. A sale that closes on November 15, involving a tenant-occupied property that rents for $1,000 a month, would result in the buyer receiving credit for 15 days of prepaid rent ($500). The seller would receive a debit of $500. Security deposits held by the seller are also transferred to the buyer as a credit to the buyer and a debit to the seller.

Insurance Prorations

Insurance premiums are paid in advance, and buyers typically take out a new hazard insurance policy when buying a home. However, if the buyer is assuming the seller's existing loan or buying on a land contract, they might ask the seller to transfer the existing insurance policy. Fire insurance policies generally transfer with or without consideration. "With consideration" means the seller will be reimbursed for the period they will not own the property, and "without consideration" means there will be no prorations. Most buyers obtain a new policy.

Utility Prorations

It is not often that utilities are prorated at closing, but prorations do apply to certain municipalities. In most cases, the utilities roll over to the tax assessments and are deducted from the tax bill for prorations. The buyer is then credited against future tax bills. You will see this situation happen in short sales and foreclosures because if the seller isn't making the mortgage payments, they are probably not paying the utility bills.

Key Takeaways

  • Seller and buyer prorations are credits and debits designed to ensure that both parties are paying their fair share of the costs associated with the home.
  • These prorations show up on the closing statement for both parties on contribute to their final costs or sale proceeds.
  • Prorated expenses can include mortgage interest, property taxes, insurance, utilities, and more.