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Costs Of Selling A House

Victoria Araj5-minute read

November 12, 2020

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When selling your house, it’s important to be able to anticipate expenses. The big picture is that you can expect to spend around 15% of your home’s sale price. You may be asking yourself: is there a way to cut that percentage down?

The truth is that many expenses are necessary if you want to get a fair price for your home. For most of the costs we’ll be outlining, you’ll simply want to incorporate them into your budget. However, some costs are more optional, and the amount you spend may vary depending on whether you’re currently in a seller’s market. We’ll help you sort out which are which.

Hiring A REALTOR®

Hiring a REALTOR® will probably be your No. 1 expense. It tends to cost 5% – 6% of the home’s sale price. Most experts recommend hiring a real estate agent to help sell your house. Although it may seem tempting to sell your house yourself, there are several reasons that it’s a good idea to hire a REALTOR®, including the following:

  • Some buying agents won’t show houses that don’t have a selling agent.
  • Real estate agents can help negotiate on your behalf and make sure you get a fair price.
  • Real estate agents provide useful guidance when it comes to what you’ll need to do to get your house market-ready.

Our verdict: This expenditure is highly recommended

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Preparing Your Home For A Sale

You’ll likely be spending a bit of cash getting your home ready to sell. The expenses associated with preparing your home for sale are more varied and more flexible. We’ll review each one.

Pre-inspections

Pre-inspections typically cost 3% of a home’s price. Although a pre-inspection may seem like an unnecessary expense, it may be a worthwhile investment. Unexpected problems revealed in an appraisal are a common reason for potential buyers to back out, and delays in selling can be very costly, not to mention frustrating.

Additionally, seller concessions are extremely common, and although there are official limits on the percentage of a home’s appraisal value that can be offered as a seller concession, these limits won’t keep you from shelling out a considerable amount. With a down payment of more than 25%, the seller can still contribute up to 9%.

You will be in a much stronger bargaining position if you are aware of any potential issues that could be revealed through an inspection and have already factored them into your home repair budget and/or the terms you are prepared to offer.

Our verdict: This expenditure is highly recommended.

Cleaning

It typically costs $200 – $400 for a professional deep clean. Numbers will depend on home size. This is probably something you could tackle yourself. However, it’s a matter of deciding whether you want to invest the energy during such an eventful time in your life.

Our verdict: This expenditure is recommended for the busy and/or overwhelmed.

Home Improvements

Many home improvements can be an easy way to increase your home’s value for a sale. Take note, however, that not all improvements are created equal. Kitchen updates can easily pay for themselves in improvements to your home’s resale value, while windows tend to be a money sink. If you spend around $4,000, you’ll be within the average, and it’s likely that this will be an investment that will pay off.

Our verdict: This expenditure is recommended.

Landscaping

On average, sellers spend only $145 on landscaping. You’ll have to decide whether a little can go a long way to enhance your home’s curb appeal, or whether it makes sense for you to leave your home as-is.

Our verdict: This expenditure is recommended for some.

Staging

Staging is a way to set your home apart and make sure the buyer gets that “love at first sight” feeling.

Many find it difficult to stage their home effectively without professionals, simply due to the logistics of keeping furniture in a house they’re planning to vacate. It also does require significant effort and know-how to make a home appealing to a wide range of viewers. Keep in mind that a fast sale can end up saving you an incredible amount.

Staging a home can, however, be done by one's self with effort and preparation. The cost is generally around $4,000 assuming only 1 month of staging and furniture rental (in general, you can expect to add $2,000 per month onto an initial $2,000). If you just want someone to declutter and rearrange, the cost is only around $800.

Our verdict: This expenditure is recommended for all but the most ambitious DIYers.

Professional Photography

Posting attractive, professional pictures of your home is crucial to selling. Professional photography will generally cost about $200.

Our verdict: This expense is highly recommended.

Capital Gains Tax

Fortunately, in most situations, the capital gains tax will not apply. You should research your own situation, however, to make sure. If you have lived in your home for a very short time, are selling a rental property, or live in a property that has increased in value by more than $250,000, you may need to pay this tax.

Seller Closing Costs

It isn’t just buyers who have to contend with closing costs. You may have to pay a transfer tax and a prorated property tax. This varies by location, so check out the regulations for your area. It’s also possible that you may have to pay a penalty for changing the terms of your mortgage, so you should contact your lender.

As a seller, you may end up paying for the title search, to make sure their claim to the property you’re selling is undisputed. Although the buyer sometimes pays, this is a common seller concession. It’s typically only $50 – $100. It’s also common for the seller to pay for title insurance for the buyer in order to provide assurance that the title is clear. 

The Big Picture

It’s easy to feel frustrated by all of the potential costs of selling a house. Remember, though, that many of these costs will actually improve the resale value of your home and help you sell your home faster. A faster sale doesn’t just save stress; it can also save you money by reducing the time that you own two properties.

The bottom line is that most of the costs of selling your home are, like homeownership itself, often a wise investment.

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Victoria Araj

Victoria Araj is a Section Editor for Quicken Loans and held roles in mortgage banking, public relations and more in her 15+ years with the company. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in political science from Michigan State University, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Michigan.