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The Cost Of Selling A House Explained

Kim Porter5-Minute Read
October 16, 2020

If you’re thinking about selling your home, you’re probably hoping to come out ahead. Home sellers nationwide made $67,100 on a typical sale in the first quarter of 2020, according to property data firm ATTOM Data.

Not every dollar you earn goes into your pocket – you also need to pay the professionals who help with the sale. Here’s what to know about the cost of selling a house and ways to keep these expenses down.

How Much Does It Cost To Sell A House?

On average, the total cost of selling a house is about 10% of the sale price. This means if you sell your house for $200,000, you can expect to subtract $20,000 from your overall profit on the sale.

Several factors may cause this percentage to fluctuate:

Preparing Your Home: Varies

Before listing your home, you’ll want to highlight its best features so buyers can envision themselves living in it. Staging, which involves arranging furniture and decor throughout your house, costs $1,218 on average. Hiring someone to mow your lawn costs about $50, while larger landscaping projects can reach $1,000 or more, according to Home Advisor.

Costs depend on the size of your home and the extent of the job. You can DIY these projects to keep expenses down, but consider the time involved and whether an expert will do the job better.

Real Estate Agent Commission Fees: 5% – 6%

A listing agent will market your home, which may include arranging a photoshoot of the house, adding the listing to the MLS, arranging tours, answering questions and more.

Hiring someone to do this legwork saves you time, but the agent’s services aren’t free. On average, sellers pay 5% – 6% of the sale price as commission fees. For a $200,000 home, you’d pay $10,000 – $12,000, split between your real estate agent and the buyer’s agent. According to NAR, 75% of sellers covered this cost in 2019.

You can reduce this expense by selling the home yourself, but you might still pay for the buyer’s agent fee if they have one. This could amount to $5,000 – $6,000. Nearly nine in 10 buyers hire a real estate agent, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, so paying at least some of the commission fee may be unavoidable.

Seller Concessions: 1.5% – 2%

A seller concession means you’ve agreed to pay some of the closing costs on behalf of the buyer. For example, you might offer to cover the buyer’s inspection fee or title insurance to sweeten the deal. According to Opendoor data, seller concessions typically amount to 1.5% – 2% of the home sale price.

Concessions are limited by loan type. Conventional mortgages that follow Fannie Mae guidelines allow for concessions of up to 3%, 6% or 9% of the home’s selling price. The cap is based on the size of the buyer’s down payment.

The Department of Veterans Affairs caps concessions on VA loans at 4%, while the Federal Housing Administration caps this number on FHA loans at 6%.

Closing Costs: 1% – 3%

Closing costs are fees paid by both the seller and buyer to cover the costs of the home sale transaction. A buyer’s closing costs typically range from 2% – 5% of the home’s selling price, while sellers typically pay 1% – 3%.

A seller’s closing costs usually include the closing fee, transfer taxes, an attorney’s fee, recording fees and any property taxes that have accrued.

Your Mortgage Payoff: Varies

If there’s a balance on your mortgage, you’ll need to pay it off when you sell the home. You can use the proceeds of the home sale to pay off the original loan, but there may be a small shortfall if interest has accrued. You might have to make up the difference. Call your loan servicer for the payoff amount, and check whether there’s a prepayment penalty, which is a fee for paying off the loan early.

Capital Gains Tax: Varies

The capital gains tax is a tax on the profit you make from selling an asset, including real estate. If you sell the home less than a year after moving in, you’ll pay this tax on the home sale.

But there are ways to minimize or even get rid of capital gains tax expenses. Real estate may be exempt from capital gains tax if you own the home and it’s your primary residence, meaning you lived there for at least 2 out of the last 5 years.

Single home sellers who sell their primary residence can exempt up to $250,000 of the profit, while married couples can exempt up to $500,000. For example, let’s say you buy a home for $200,000 and 5 years later, you sell it for $300,000. The capital gain would be $100,000. Because the profit is less than $250,000, you wouldn’t pay any capital gains tax on the sale.

Home Repairs: Varies

Most home buyers order a home inspection to check the property’s condition before signing on the dotted line. They may ask you to cover repairs if the report comes back unsatisfactory. The total cost will vary based on your home’s condition. You can forgo some or all of the repairs, but it could sink the deal.

To avoid any repair negotiations, inspect your home before putting it on the market. Look for damage to any part of the house, broken appliances, and areas that can be cleaned up. You might be able to do some of the work yourself, but avoid DIY mistakes by hiring professionals where needed.

Moving Costs: Varies

Moving costs depend on how far you’re moving, how much stuff you’re taking with you and whether you’re hiring professional movers. According to Moving.com, the average cost of moving a two- or three-bedroom home locally is $1,250. The price tag rises to $4,890 for long-distance moves.

You can save on costs by renting a moving truck and doing the heavy work yourself. This may cost $130 for a small local trip or up to $3,250 for a sizable long-distance move. Sorting through your belongings before the move and throwing out items you don’t need will also lower the costs of the move.

The True Cost Of Selling A House

When considering the costs of selling a home, there’s more to it than real estate commission fees. You’ll also need to budget for closing costs, staging, taxes and more. The average cost to sell a house typically adds up to 10% of the sale price.

Go through these costs and figure out if they apply to your situation. You’ll have a better idea of how much you stand to pocket from the sale, which can go toward your next home’s down payment. If you’re looking to sell your home in the near future, contact a real estate expert for help.

Get the right home loan for you.

Kim Porter

Kim Porter is an experienced personal finance writer who focuses on mortgages, credit cards, student loans, debt and more. She has a B.A. in journalism from the University of Florida. You can find her on Twitter at @kimsavesmoney or on LinkedIn.