What Is an Acquisition Fee in Real Estate?

May 18, 2023

A broker and investor sit across from one another, one signing a document for their real estate acquisition fees.

A real estate acquisition fee covers the various costs associated with closing on an investment property. The fee is paid from a buyer to a lender and can include expenses like underwriting, agent commissions, and construction charges.

Anyone involved in property investment — buyer or seller — has a vested interest in real estate acquisition fees. Real estate investors want to avoid high fees that could compromise investment returns. Property developers consider how titles, surveys, and other processes might affect fee totals. Real estate agents and brokers want to make sure fees will help them recoup the time and energy they invested during negotiations.

What Is a Real Estate Acquisition Fee?

Real estate acquisition fees are a group of costs that build up during the property investment process. They can include financing fees, closing costs, real estate agent commissions, and expenses associated with a range of legal documentation requirements.

Buyers must typically pay these fees before closing on a property. In some cases, buyers and sellers agree to split some, or all, real estate acquisition fees.

It’s important for real estate investors to understand each type of real estate acquisition fee. This knowledge helps you make informed investment decisions that positively contribute to your portfolio. It also ensures that you can pay fees in full, avoiding any non-payment problems during the real estate investment process.

Knowing your real estate acquisition fees also gives you an advantage during the transaction process. You’ll understand which fees are standard and which, like closing costs, are often negotiable. This makes you a more effective negotiator during conversations with a buyer or seller. It also helps you better protect your investment.

Average Real Estate Acquisition Cost of a Property

Real estate acquisition fees can vary based on a wide range of different factors. For example, your location can heavily influence property costs and the associated fees. Some locations also have additional government tax or regulatory requirements.

Here are some factors that can impact real estate acquisition fees:

  • Type of real estate: Certain property types have higher acquisition fees. For example, commercial properties sometimes require more legal processes than private residence transactions. These additional steps can create additional fees when it comes time to close.
  • Associated services: You might also face fees from attorneys, appraisers, inspectors, and other legal and professional service providers. These people charge fees based on the value of their time and expertise.
  • Total deal amount: Some fees, including closing costs, are higher with more valuable deals. This makes the total deal amount a major factor in determining total acquisition fees.
  • Transaction urgency: Your urgency to close can also impact acquisition fees. Expedited resources often require an intensive effort, which can lead to higher costs. Processes like inspections and documentation often come with higher fees for accelerated processing.

These factors will help determine your exact real estate acquisition fees. On average, these fees represent 1-3% of your property’s total price. Closing costs, one major contributor to real estate acquisition fees, average $6,905 in total.

Calculating Real Estate Acquisition Fees

There are several steps to calculating potential real estate acquisition fees. Make sure you identify all potential expenses, from closing costs to obscure, location-specific fees. 

If you are purchasing property, collect quotes and estimates from several vendors. Consider how fees from different real estate agents, brokers, lenders, and appraisers might affect your returns. If you are selling property, make sure to offer competitive rates that will draw investors to your real estate opportunity.

You can calculate total real estate acquisition fees once you have all of the variables. There are two common formulas to identify fee totals, depending on how you’ve chosen to purchase property:

  1. Percentage of total deal size: Multiply your real estate acquisition fee percentage by the total transaction amount. For example, a 2% acquisition fee on a $500,000 property will incur $10,000 in total expenses.
  2. Invested equity: Subtract total equity — your ownership interest — from purchase charges. For example, multiple investors might purchase a $5 million property with a $4 million loan and $1 million in partner stock. The 2% acquisition fee is subtracted from the $1 million, resulting in $20,000 of total real estate fees.

Calculating acquisition fees can be a complicated process. That’s why many people trust organizations that already have a proven track record in property investment. This helps you maximize your returns while avoiding calculation errors when identifying individual fees.

Additional Real Estate Fees To Watch For

Real estate transactions often include a range of fees, many associated with acquisition costs. These additional fees can increase your financial burden if you’re not prepared to handle them.

Here are some additional real estate fees to watch for: 

  • Disposition fees: Costs like advertising and closing that are associated with getting a property ready to sell.
  • Asset management fees: Costs like creating a budget, navigating markets, and sustaining partnerships with vendors. Together, these costs offset expenses for ongoing commercial property management.
  • Sponsor fees: Costs that compensate sponsors or general partners for deal sourcing and producing profits.
  • Developmental construction fees: Costs that cover construction and property development, particularly for real estate projects where properties are built immediately before they are sold.
  • Property management fees: Costs that cover general property management, including maintenance, and tenant communication.

Like real estate acquisition fees, these associated fees often vary by investment. Make sure to review contracts and individual fees before signing. This helps you avoid surprises and better anticipate all costs when considering any new real estate opportunity.

Private Equity Real Estate and Acquisition Fees

Private equity real estate has its own set of property acquisition fees. These investments often involve properties that are not made publicly available. Instead, they become private investments as part of an equity or partnership deal.

Many private equity investments are structured as joint ventures, not as traditional real estate investments. This can create additional legal and documentation fees, particularly where multiple investors are involved. It can also lead to higher sponsor fees.

Higher costs associated with private equity real estate transactions often create the need for investment minimums. These private opportunities are often reserved for investors who can afford larger investment amounts. Minimum investment floors ensure that investors or investment groups can cover all associated acquisition fees.