How Much Does It Cost to Sell a House?

April 21, 2021 | Team Sundae Team Sundae

There are quite a few costs associated with selling a home traditionally that can sneak up on you if you aren’t prepared. So how much does it cost to sell a house? Read on.

Selling a home is a stressful process for many Americans. When you take into account the packing, moving, and maintaining a show house for prospective buyers, it’s all a lot to handle. To top it off, most sellers face a ton of hidden costs along the way. Unfortunately, once you’ve started down the road of selling a house on the traditional real estate market, it can be costly to change course. 

The only way to know if a traditional real estate transaction is right for you is to be well-informed. If you’re considering selling your home, read on for a complete list of the costs of selling a home. 

1. Taxes

Several factors come into play regarding whether and how much taxes you’ll pay when selling a home. You will be responsible for paying at least some taxes on the money you make from the sale of your home. 

The most important factors are how long you lived in your home and how much money you owe on your mortgage. According to TurboTax, as long as you have owned the home for at least five years and lived in the home for at least two of those five years, the first $250,000 of profit is tax free. If you’re married and file taxes jointly, the first $500,000 is tax free. If you make more than $500,000 in profit on a home sale, or have owned the home for less than five years or spent less than two years living in it, you’ll have to include the income on your federal tax forms.

Before you decide to sell, estimate the net proceeds on the sale of your home to see where you might land. The video below offers a quick and helpful overview on capital gains taxes.

 

2. Realtor fees

You’ll have to pay a Realtor commission fee if you work with a real estate agent to sell your home. Typically, sellers pay a commission equivalent to six percent of the home’s sale price. Three percent goes to the buyer’s agent, and three goes to the seller’s. Buyers and sellers can negotiate these fees, but it’s not easy to find agents who will take less. Commissions are how they earn their living.

You also have the option to sell your home on the traditional real estate market without a Realtor. This is called a “For Sale By Owner” or FSBO for short. Though there are no seller commissions to pay, you may still be on the hook for buyer’s agent commissions. FSBO sales come with some risks. They tend to sit on the market longer than conventional listings and are more susceptible to malicious scammers. FSBOs tend to sell at a lower price than homes listed by a Realtor, perhaps due to negative buyer perceptions. The National Association of Realtors reported in 2017 that the average sale price for a FSBO was $200,000 compared to $265,000 for homes sold by an agent. 

3. Title and escrow fees

You should be prepared to pay title and escrow fees when selling your home. 

Title fees include a title search and title insurance. A title search is a fee paid to a title company or attorney to ensure that you own the property. Title insurance protects you and your investment in the transaction in case of issues with the title. Fees for title insurance are usually about one percent of the amount of the home loan. In the case of a $250,000 mortgage, title insurance would be $2,500. 

Escrow costs are another expense you’ll need to prepare for if you’re listing your house on the market. Escrow fees go to an escrow company, which securely holds money, documents, or assets until a home sale is complete. Escrow fees usually add up to between one or two percent, much like title insurance. Fortunately, buyers and sellers often split escrow fees equally. Many buyers attempt to negotiate that the seller cover escrow costs.

4. Attorney fees

You may subconsciously skip this section thinking you’ll only need an attorney for specialized real estate transactions. While real estate attorneys help with unique transactions and disputes, many states require that an attorney be present for all real estate transactions. A real estate attorney may charge an hourly fee of $150 to $350 per hour or a flat-rate fee of $500 to $1,500. 

If you live in one of the following states, you’ll have to pay attorney fees:

  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire 
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

States that require closing attorney5. Holding costs

Holding costs, also called carrying costs, are the normal expenses you incur as property owner while the home is on the market. Holding costs include monthly charges like mortgage, utilities, homeowners association fees, and any other owner fees. To calculate holding costs, multiply one month by the time you expect your house to sit on the market. If your mortgage and bills add up to $1,600 a month and your home sits on the market for three months before selling, your total holding costs will be $4,800.

Keep in mind, the average time houses sit on the market varies from place to place. But in most cases, you should expect it to sit for 60 days or longer. In fact, some markets are in worse shape and houses may take several months to sell. 

6. Preparation costs

Sellers often decide to make improvements to their home before listing it on the traditional real estate market. With buyers hungry for move-in ready homes, renovating can help a house reach a higher sales price or sell faster. Whatever the motivation, remodeling costs subtract from your expected net proceeds. A Zillow and Thumbtack report indicates that the average amount spent by homeowners making improvements before listing a home is roughly $5,000. These costs vary from one locale to the next, so you’ll need to research costs in your city to get to an accurate estimate.

Other costs that are easy to overlook include expenses for cleaning and staging. If you’re living in the house while it’s on the market, you’ll need to keep it tidy for showings. You can do this yourself, or plan to spend a few hundred dollars for a professional cleaning. Depending on the size, layout, and desired list price of your house, you may also choose to have it staged. Staging doesn’t work for everyone, but surveys show a higher average offer price for staged homes. In some cases staging helps prospective buyers visualize how they’d furnish and decorate the home. Expect to pay around $500 per month for every staged room. Here’s a detail list on what it might cost you to prepare your home to sell.

Cleaning

Estimated Cost: $116 to $235

Optional or Required?: Optional, but if you don’t spend the money, you’ll either need to do a deep-clean yourself or sell off-market.

Buyers want to envision your home looking its best, so cleaning and decluttering is absolutely essential to grabbing the highest possible offer price for your home. You’ll need to go beyond your basic cleaning routine and shampoo carpets and scrub floorboards. If you do this yourself, it can be very time consuming, and if you hire someone, it can be costly. 

Pre-listing inspection

Estimated Cost: $279 to $399

Optional or Required?: Optional, but it can prevent your home from staying on the market too long due to issues. 

While homebuyers will want to do their own inspection, it can be helpful for sellers to get ahead of any issues by getting a pre-listing inspection. That’s because if you get an offer and problems are revealed, you’ll need to remediate any issues before you can close, and the buyer could back out. If that happens, your home will stay on the market longer, which will make it less attractive to potential buyers. 

Addressing safety/code issues

Estimated Cost: Varies

Optional or Required?: Required, unless you sell your house as-is

Sellers are legally required to either repair safety/code issues or disclose them in the listing, assuming they are aware of the problem. Whether these repairs come after your own pre-listing inspection or the homebuyer’s inspection, they can be pricey. You may need to:

  • Remediate mold or water damage ($500 to $6,000)
  • Eliminate infestations ($111 to $261)
  • Deal with fire, electrical, or chemical hazards (can cost up to $9,000 if you need to rewire your house)
  • Addressing building code violations (can cost thousands if major structural changes are needed)

Other repairs and renovations

Estimated Cost: Varies

Optional or Required?: Optional

Even if there aren’t safety issues requiring your attention, you’ll probably want to make some minor updates to help your home appeal to buyers. You may want to:

  • Refresh the paint ($956 to $2,888)
  • Add new flooring ($1,491 to $4,475)
  • Install a new front door ($510 to $1,610)
  • Remodel a bathroom or kitchen ($6,123 to $37,628)
  • Add energy-efficient updates (Varies)
  • Finish your basement ($2,800 to $33,985)

Most buyers want a home in turnkey condition, so while these updates are optional, you may not get a strong offer if you avoid them. Of course, these updates may increase the value of your home, which means you’ll get more cash out of the sale. 

Staging

Estimated Cost: $557 to $2,105

Optional or Required?: Optional

Staging adds trendy furniture and decor that can help buyers visualize a house at its best. Most real estate agents see value in staging a home, and one-quarter of buyers’ agents say it increases the offer price between one and five percent, according to the National Association of Realtors. A good agent might do this for you (About 26% of sellers’ agents offered this service), and it’s okay for you to request it, considering the agent will be earning 3% commission. 

Photography

Estimated Cost: $100-$125 per hour

Optional or Required?: Optional

As more buyers initiate their home search online, it’s becoming even more crucial to showcase your home well in the listing. Professional lighting and images will help buyers to better envision your space, which will lead to more offers. 

Landscaping

Estimated Cost: $1,371 to $5,501

Optional or Required?: Optional

Curb appeal can attract more prospective buyers and get you higher offers on your home. Landscaping is one of the less invasive and less expensive ways to improve curb appeal, but it will still likely cost you more than $1,000. 

Junk removal

Estimated Cost: $133 to $360

Optional or Required?: Required, unless you sell to Sundae

If you’ve lived in your home for some time, you likely have furniture and other items you no longer want. You’ll likely need to hire someone to haul away and dispose of larger items. If you’re selling to Sundae, however, you can leave anything you don’t want behind, and we’ll get rid of it at no cost to you. 

Moving costs

Estimated Cost: $758 to $2,049

Optional or Required?: Required, unless you do it yourself

Moving house can be incredibly stressful if you don’t have help. In one survey, 64% of respondents reported that their most recent move was the most stressful event they’d experienced, and of those who did the move on their own, 43% said they’d never do it again. Even if you do it yourself, you’ll likely need to pay to rent a truck and devote hours or days to getting it done. If you sell to Sundae, we’ll give you a $10,000 cash advance after your inspection to help with these costs. 

Related: Checklist for Selling a House

Typical cost ranges were acquired from HomeAdvisor and Thumbtack. 

 


Home sellers who hire professional help spend $4,985 on average to cover many basic seller prep projects like painting, staging, carpet cleaning, lawn care and gardening, and local moving costs.


7. Seller concessions

As the seller, you won’t have to pay concessions in every transaction, but they’re important to consider. Seller concessions are agreements you make to entice buyers to purchase your home or pay a higher price. Think of seller concessions as “sweetening the deal” for prospective buyers.

One of the most common seller concessions is a home warranty. If you decide to purchase a home warranty for the buyer of your home, a home warranty typically costs between $300 and $600 for a year of coverage. 

There are several other common seller concessions. Sellers often cover the cost of repairs when issues are discovered during inspection. Sometimes as part of a negotiation, buyers request that sellers cover a portion of the buyer’s closing costs. You never have to agree to a seller concession, but it may make it easier to sell your home. 

8. Moving costs

The hardest part of selling your home is finding a buyer who will pay a reasonable price. However, beyond selling your home, you probably have to find a new place to live, too. This may mean paying for temporary housing before a permanent move. The average cost for temporary housing nationwide is about $140 per day, or $4,200 per month. This cost fluctuates by region, size, and quality of your location, but it’s important to remember that it won’t be cheap.  

Outside of the costs of temporary housing, you’ll also need to remember moving costs. These include fees for moving and storage companies, as well as the hidden costs of furnishing a new residence. According to Moving.com, the average cost of a local move is just under $2,000 and the average cost of a 1,000+ mile move is just under $5,000. Remember to discount these costs from any net proceeds you make selling your home. 

9. Online costs

All the previously mentioned costs apply to the sale of a home in a traditional market transaction. But selling your home online, often called iBuying, is an increasingly popular new option for many sellers. Many of the fees listed above don’t apply in an iBuyer transaction, but most iBuyers have other, unique transaction fees. Be sure to do your homework if you go this route. 

Finally, homebuyers like Sundae will pay cash to purchase your home off market. This means avoiding closing and transaction costs and real estate agent commissions. In addition to saving you time and stress, an off-market sale may compete favorably with a traditional market sale after calculating net proceeds. There is no renovation necessary, no agents involved, and no waiting for the right buyer.

How much it costs to sell a house

In addition to these prepping expenses, there’s an opportunity cost to making all the arrangements. A good agent should be able to help coordinate most of these services for you, but the costs can add up quickly, especially if your home needs significant updates. 

If your house is distressed and you can’t imagine spending the time or money to get it in turnkey condition, you can avoid most of these costs by selling your home off-market. One option is to request an offer from Sundae. It’s our mission to give homeowners a fair offer price with no hidden costs, so you can quickly get cash for your home without worrying about preparing it for sale. 

To find out if an off-market transaction is right for you, contact Sundae today

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