How Much Does It Cost To Sell a House? Prepare For More Than Just The Closing Costs!
Table of Contents
- Cost of Selling a House – Start With the Basics
- How to Calculate the Closing Costs For a Home Seller
- How to Calculate the Escrow Cost of Selling a House
- How to Calculate the Cost of Getting a House Ready To Sell
- Time To Get Some Money Back At Closing?
- Final Thoughts About How Much It Costs to Sell a House
This question comes up all the time with home sellers who are interested in putting their home on the market.
I have sat down with many sellers and almost always they grossly miscalculate the estimated fees for the cost of selling a house.
This will lead to disappointment with their net proceeds or even worse, not able to make the numbers work and force them to not be able to sell their home!
Most home sellers just want to know, how to calculate what it is going to cost them to sell their house… accurately.
In order to understand these costs for a home seller, you need to think about the selling costs holistically.
What I mean buy that is, there are more costs to selling a house than just the closing costs.
At a high-level, we can break these costs down into 3 categories.
Here are 3 categories for the costs of selling a house.
Lets start with #1 because that is what people are most interested in and can be the most expensive!
How to Calculate the Closing Costs For a Home Seller
Because I am a real estate broker, quite regularly people ask me “If I were to sell my home, about how much COMMISSION will I have to pay”?
This is because typically people are only thinking about the commission they will pay when selling their house.
Commission is a closing cost for a home seller.
As most people are aware, this is usually 5-6% (7% in some markets) of the home sale.
Half to the listing agent and half to the buyers agent.
But this is far from the only closing cost involved in the sale of a house.
Everyone should be aware of ALL the closing costs associated with selling a house.
Closing costs are the most common costs people associate with selling your home.
I typically divide the home seller closing costs into two buckets.
- Debt Payoff Costs
- Closing Cost Fees
Lets take a closer look at each of these buckets so you can properly account for where your hard earned equity could be going.
Debt Payoff Costs
Hopefully you are aware that paying off some types of debt is mandatory when selling your home.
Debt payoff costs are simply any debt that you have, that will need to be paid off at closing.
The most common debt in this category is paying off the mortgage.
You can get a payoff amount by calling your mortgage servicing company and simply asking what the payoff amount is.
The amount can change depending on when your house actually closes.
Also, any home equity lines of credit or home equity loans out on the house, those will need to be paid off as well.
Fair warning, don’t try to skip paying a month if your closing falls close to your mortgage payment date.
This can jeopardize your credit score and cause unnecessary headaches if your closing date gets pushed out.
Back Taxes Payoff
Another debt that will need to be paid is any housing tax debt.
If you live in a state that collects taxes ahead of time then you should have paid your taxes already.
However, if you are not a good tax paying citizen, then this would apply to you.
What this means is that if you missed some tax payments, then you will have to pay them off at closing.
There is no way around that one, sorry!
Back Homeowners Association Fees Payoff
The same goes for any unpaid association fees if you live in a condo, PUD complex or any home with an association.
These costs will be the amount of months you have not paid and any fees that the association may charge.
Be sure to call your management company and make sure that you are paid up to date on your HOA fees.
Unpaid Liens Payoff
Also, if any liens have been put on the house in the form of a mechanics or judgement lien then those will have to be paid off as well.
Those are highly unlikely, if you have paid for all work that you have had done on your home.
Or, if a court ordered judgement has not been ruled against you.
But they can be there and you might not know about them if they are!
So, it might be worthwhile to go to the town hall and verify there are none on your homes property records.
Otherwise, you can not only expect your total cost to sell a house to go up, but you might have to delay your closing!
Summary of the debt payoff costs.
- Paying off mortgage loan balance (to find out, call your mortgage company)
- Unpaid property taxes (to find out, call local tax collector)
- Unpaid association fees (to find out, call association)
- Mechanics or judgement liens on the house (to find out, look up property records at your town hall)
Closing Costs Fees
Next up is closing cost fees.
Which is the money you are paying for any professional services associated with selling and closing your house.
First up is the big one that every hates. Commissions.
Real Estate Commissions
It is important to pick professionals that will deliver on what you hire them to do.
The trade-off for selling your home with a real estate agent and having them providing great customer service is commissions.
Which are negotiable but are usually between 5-7% of the selling price of your home.
Which adds up to a lot of money! Thousands or even tens of thousands!
Which is why, if you are looking to save on the cost to sell a house, we offer flat fee MLS listings for you to sell on your own.
If you are interested in saving all that money you would of had to pay in commissions.
Real Estate Attorney Fees
The second most common professional service fee, is the attorney who handles the closing of the house.
It is important to pick an attorney who specializes in real estate transactions and add that into the cost to sell a house.
This is to ensure you are represented correctly and protected in the sale of one of your most important assets.
Typically, you can expect to pay about $1000-$1500 for an attorney to close the sellers side of the transaction.
When you sell your home there is typically a recording fee for recording that the mortgage was released if you had one.
This fee is usually a flat fee plus a few more dollars per page but it is a nominal cost of about $200 in total.
But still something to factor in.
This can vary from state to state and even city to city.
So be sure to call your town hall and ask them what the charges will be for you at closing.
Transfer or Conveyance Taxes
Finally, when selling your home usually the state and town want to tax you and get some revenue.
This is called the conveyance taxes.
They are charged to everyone when selling a house.
This also can vary drastically from state to state and even city to city.
So it’s best to do your research, I would start with your real estate attorney or your town hall.
They deal with calculating this cost all the time and should be able to give you the formula.
Please note, there is another tax that you could be on the hook for.
If you are not buying another home with the proceeds of the sale of your home, then you might be charged a capital gains tax.
This is a topic that is best discussed with your accountant.
So you can plan how to best handle this tax for your situation, if it even applies to you.
Summary of the closing costs when selling your home.
- Commission (varies but usually between 5-6% of sale price)
Or eliminate at least half of that commission with one of my flat fee MLS listings!
- Attorney fee ($1000-$1500)
- Recording fees (Varies by state and city)
- Conveyance taxes (Varies by state and city)
- Capital gains taxes (consult your accountant)
Closing Costs Vary State to State
If you want to learn more about closing costs specific to a state, below is a link for state specific closing cost information.
How to Calculate the Escrow Cost of Selling a House
Once you are in contract to sell your home or what is also called escrow, you might have a couple costs associated with the buyers getting your home inspected.
Typically, the buyer is responsible for paying the fees of having a state licensed home inspector over to your house to perform the inspection.
However, there are a couple costs that the seller can be on the hook for and you don’t want to forget to add them into your total cost to sell a house.
These costs can be having the septic tank pumped for inspection or having a pool opened for inspection.
These costs are obviously only applicable if the house has a septic system or a pool.
A good tip for you, is to try to negotiate that the buyer be on the hook for these items during the inspection.
After all, whatever it says in your contract is what you should go by when trying to figure out who is responsible for any costs.
The other cost to sell a house that the seller can have while in escrow, is any repair items that the buyer negotiated with you after the inspection.
For example, say the roof had a leak or high radon levels were detected.
And you agreed to have that fixed in some way.
It is proactive thinking on your part, to be prepared to put away a couple or even few thousand dollars for repair items on your home.
After all, if you don’t need it, then you have some more money in your pocket!
Summary of your in contract (escrow) costs.
- Home inspection seller responsibility costs ($200-$600)
- Inspection repair costs (this depends on scope of repairs, but budget $1000-$5000)
How to Calculate the Cost of Getting a House Ready To Sell
In order for you to understand these costs.
Let’s work backwards.
In order to sell your home, you need a contract with a buyer.
In order to have a contract with a buyer, you need someone to make an offer that you will accept.
In order to get an offer, you need to have someone who is interested in living in your home.
In order to get someone interested in living in your home, you need to make it appealing to them.
Which is why you have costs associated with getting your home ready to sell.
Before selling your home, it is important to take care of deferred maintenance, repairs and just an all around freshening up.
Those costs to sell a house, can vary depending on what you want to do.
Especially if your home has an odor to it that buyers would find unappealing.
For the overall house, it is best to consult with a professional home stager to understand what to focus on.
So you can get the most bang for your buck.
I have been through dozens of home staging consultations with my clients.
Which is where a professional home stager was working with home sellers on how to get their home ready to put on the market.
From that experience, I can tell you that the best bang for your buck items to focus on improving are floors and walls.
Generally speaking, of course.
Cost of painting your walls, doors and trim
A fresh coat of paint on all walls, doors and trim will work wonders.
This will give your home almost a completely new look.
So much so you might not want to move anymore!
The costs involved in getting this painting done can vary dramatically.
This all depends on the size of your home and the painter you get quotes from.
A quick tip for you is, if you go to the local paint stores, usually they will have business cards of local painters on one of the walls by the desk.
Take some and ask the employees who is good.
So you can get a few quotes and see which one you like best.
But to give you a rough estimate, from what I have noticed, expect for them to charge about $300-$400 per room, including paint.
You may be able to find cheaper or even more expensive.
But like everything, be sure to shop around for what you think is the best VALUE.
Cost of making your floors look good
Now, when it comes to floors.
You are going to want to focus on carpets and hardwoods.
If your carpets are older and worn, you should have them replaced.
Go to a local discount carpet store or even Home Depot or Lowes and find an neutral in-stock carpet that can be replaced fairly cheap.
Look to spend around $2.50 per square foot, with padding and installation.
That is an inexpensive price but try to stay away from the really cheap carpet.
It won’t look that good and buyers will notice the poor quality.
The trick is to not over do it or over think it.
Just get it done.
For hardwood floors, you can have them refinished fairly inexpensively.
For a full sanding and 3 coats of polyurethane.
Look to spend no more than $2.00 per square foot.
Keep in mind, there is a ton more that you could have done to your home.
But those are the two best bang for your buck items that I have seen.
Consider the cost of a pre-sale home inspection
Another item to consider before listing your home on the MLS that could end up saving you money in the long run, is getting a pre-sale inspection.
A pre-sale inspection, by a state licensed home inspector, will identify all the items that will come up when a buyer has your home inspected after you are under contract.
This is important because it prevents surprises and gives you the chance to address items before selling.
Also this information will help you make disclosures and price your house appropriately.
Here is a breakdown of the costs of getting your house ready to sell.
- Professional Stager recommendations – $200-$300 (if you choose to have one)
- Deferred maintenance, repairs and freshening up (This is going to vary, depending on scope and size of your home)
- Pre-sale inspection – $400-$600 (plus the costs of repairing any items found)
I want to note, that the above items are optional but you should consider them if you are serious about selling your home.
Additionally, if your home will be vacant when it hits the market, you should consider staging with rental furniture or even virtual staging of the photographs to properly market it. These can add to your costs but can actually help you sell for more money.
By taking the time to prepare your home for sale and marketing it in the MLS, will hopefully get it to sell quickly.
Ideally, your home should sell in under 30 days if done correctly.
Check out “Sell Your House Fast and Get More Money”
To go deeper into how to sell your house correctly.
Time To Get Some Money Back At Closing?
Are you tired of all the costs yet?
I’m sure you were not expecting to be spending this amount when calculating your cost to sell a house!
There is some good news, how about some money back!
When closing on your home, some costs you already paid for and actually have to be reimbursed to you.
Do you remember paying for your last oil or propane delivery?
Well if there is anything left in the tank then the buyer will have to pay you current market prices for that remaining fuel.
Also, remember how I told you that you might prepay your taxes in advance?
Well that means any remaining days that you are no longer living in the home will mean you will have to be reimbursed for those taxes, score!
The same goes for insurance that was prepaid, it will be prorated and refunded back to you, double score!
Here is the money you get back at closing.
- Remaining Fuel (Gallons remaining * market price/gallon)
- Prepaid Taxes (prorated based on date of closing)
- Prepaid Insurance (also prorated based on date of closing)
Final Thoughts About How Much It Costs to Sell a House
Ok, so we have established that it takes a lot of money to sell a house.
Hopefully, I have answered I answered your home selling costs questions that brought you to this article.
Also, you now realize that there is a lot more to pay for than just the closing costs when selling a house!
Are You Considering Selling Your Home?
If you want to save at least 50% of the Realtor commissions, check out our article about How a Flat Fee MLS Listing saved James & Mary $9,450!
When you add everything up including real estate commissions, closing costs and fees, money to repair the home it can be a significant amount.
We didn’t even cover the costs after you sell, like best moving boxes and packing supplies!
Which is why I offer sellers the opportunity to sell their house on their own but get listed in the Realtors MLS for a low flat fee.
If you are reading this and have not purchased one of my professional listing plans, head over to my purchase page and get started.
Or if you still have any questions about the costs of selling your home, or about my flat fee MLS listing plans, contact us for more information.
Or leave a comment below and get the discussion going!
About the Author: Kris Lippi is the owner of ISoldMyHouse.com, the broker of Get LISTED Realty and an official member of the Forbes Real Estate Council. He actively writes about real estate related topics such as buying and selling homes, how-to guides for around the house and home product recommendations. He has been featured in Inman, Readers Digest, Fox News, American Express, Fit Small Business, Policy Genius, Lending Tree, GoDaddy, Manta as well as other major websites. Read more about us here.