The costs you'll incur when selling a house can be significant. But selling costs are just one of the expenses you’ll entail during the process of relocating, so getting in the know about them is vital to managing your finances.
There are some fees you might have considered already – like agent commission if you’re planning to use a pro – but there are other costs you may not have thought about that should be factored into the total you’ll pay if you're thinking of selling your house now. Being aware of what these are will ensure you don’t get an unpleasant surprise when you receive the closing statement, which, on average is around $30,000.
Here, we provide an expert guide to the cost to sell a house to help you draw up a budget.
How much does it cost to sell a house?
‘The average price to sell a house will vary depending on a few different factors such as your house itself, the current state of your local market, the cost of living, as well as the list prices of other homes in your area,’ explains Shelly Salas (opens in new tab), HomeLight elite agent in Killeen, Texas.
‘It’s estimated that the average cost to sell a house is about $31,308, but there might be a little bit of leeway to recoup some of the costs. For example, if we’re in a seller’s market, you might be able to get the buyer to cover more of the costs than usual, especially if there are various offers coming through on the property.
‘If the market is more in favor of the buyer, you may have to do more of the heavy lifting by putting in additional work and money to help attract attention from buyers.’
As for the cost to sell a house as a percentage of the sale price? ‘While each market is different and the cost to sell a home will vary from brokerage to brokerage, typically a seller can expect the cost to range from 10 to 12 per cent of the sales price,’ says Shelly.
Agent commission cost to sell a house
Agent commission is likely to be the largest of the costs involved in selling a house, but it isn’t a fixed amount. ‘The first thing all sellers should know is that commissions are negotiable,’ says Shelly. ‘There is no set amount that all agents charge.
‘According to HomeLight’s transaction data, the national average real estate agent commission is 5.8 per cent of the property sales price. Over the past three years, agent commissions have averaged at about 5.47 per cent which covers both the listing agent and buyer’s agent fees.’
Marketing costs to sell a house
There may be other costs when selling your home. ‘Some agents will charge additional fees such as marketing fees, staging fees, etc, but it varies by realtor,’ explains Shelly. ‘For example, my team doesn’t add on any extra fees when marketing a client’s home. For those realtors who do charge additional fees when marketing a home, it’s important to keep in mind as a seller that you can always negotiate these additional fees.
‘When an agent markets your house, there are a few fees you might have to pay. Staging and prep costs can range between 1 to 4 per cent of the typical sale price. When preparing your home for sale, it’s important to declutter ($400 for a dumpster rental) and deep clean the property ($300 per clean), apply a fresh coat of paint if needed ($1,900), brighten up the flooring ($1,800), spruce up your curb appeal ($3,500), and stage your home ($1,600).
‘A seller who completes all of the tasks above would spend nearly $9,500 getting their home ready to market, which comes to around 3 per cent of today’s median home sale price which sits at $357,300.’
Costs to sell your home yourself
Decided to sell your home yourself to cut costs? ‘If you’re interested in marketing your home yourself, all you have to do is follow a few simple steps,’ says Shelly. ‘First, set a competitive price, which is considered by many agents to be the most important step of a marketing plan. Next, take professional photos of your home to attract a larger pool of potential buyers. In fact, homes with high quality photographs sell 32 per cent faster than those without visuals, according to research from VHT Studios (opens in new tab).
‘Another great strategy is to make sure your listing description is appealing and creative. Think about how you’d like to depict your home by painting a picture in the buyer’s mind about what sets your property apart from the others in your neighborhood. Highlighting your home’s outdoor features as well as energy-efficient features, which are top buyer preferences today, can also help attract potential buyers. According to HomeLight’s research, 47 per cent of real estate agents have noticed homebuyers prioritizing energy-efficient features in their home search.
‘Last but not least, if you know your home is in a prime location, sell that! HomeLight’s 2022 Buyer and Seller Insights (opens in new tab) report found that the top location-related features in a buyer’s home search include nearby necessities such as gas stations and grocery stores (49 per cent); a walkable neighborhood (35 per cent); a quality school district (31 per cent); proximity to work (30 per cent); and proximity to restaurants and shopping (24 per cent).’
Taxes and fees to sell a house
There may be additional costs you should bear in mind. ‘Sellers are typically responsible for prorated taxes from January 1st up to the day of the actual sale of the home,’ says Shelly. ‘Most settlement companies have additional fees as well as recording fees and document preparation fees, but these should all be included in the initial percentage cost breakdown that the agent presents to the seller during their initial consultation.’
Who pays closing costs?
The buyer of a home is responsible for many of the closing costs, but the seller is liable for some of them. These typically include transfer tax, title insurance, prorated property taxes and homeowner association fees.
Bear in mind, too, that you might be asked to pay some of the buyer’s costs in a buyer’s market where there’s a surplus of homes for sale and low buyer demand.
What brings most value to a house?
To bring most value to a house in preparation for selling it, consider taking on one or more of the top remodeling projects revealed in the 2022 remodeling impact report from the National Association of Realtors (opens in new tab) and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (opens in new tab).
Refinishing hardwood floors is the project that pays back the most at resale, garnering 147 per cent of its cost, according to the study. This is followed by new hardwood flooring (118 per cent), and upgrading insulation (100 per cent).
Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.
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