How much does it cost to sell a house?

When planning on selling your house, it’s tempting to imagine walking away from the closing table with cash in your pocket equal to simply the difference between the value of the property and the balance on the mortgage.  Unfortunately, selling a house can be expensive, and the associated costs can eat into the final amount you get to take home.  While buyers and sellers may sometimes negotiate over who foots the bill for the costs associated with the sale, usually sellers pay the largest share, easily adding up to 10% or more of the sale price.  

To help you know what to expect when selling your home, we’ve put together this guide on typical costs involved.  Most of the numbers can vary a good amount depending on the state of the market, the size of the home, and the decisions you make, but this should provide a good starting place to estimate what you can expect to spend.  We’ll consider as an example a house worth $200,000 dollars to help give a firm idea of what the numbers might look like.

Major costs of selling a house

Real estate agent commissions 

Typical cost: 5-6%, or $10,000 – $12,000 on a $200,000 house

Typically the largest and least variable cost associated with selling a house is commission that goes to the real estate agents that facilitated the transaction.  The amount is usually between 5 and 6 percent of the final sale price and is split between the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent.  Sometimes you can negotiate a lower commission in a market where the house will sell quickly or at a high price.  You can save on at least half the cost of the commission if you list the house yourself without a seller’s agent (“for sale by owner”), but this tends to be a lot of work, and if you are inexperienced, you likely won’t be able to sell for as much as you could have with the help of a real estate professional.

Additional closing costs and fees 

Typical cost: 1-3%, or $2,000 – $6,000 on a $200,000 house

Traditionally, most non-commission costs associated with closing a sale are the responsibility of the buyer, but there are still a handful of other fees that will likely fall to the seller.  These are usually negotiable, and in a seller’s market the buyer may agree to take care of everything.  But in general, and especially in a buyer’s market, you should be prepared to spend another several hundred dollars to cover things like closing admin fees, document preparation fees from the title company, title insurance, fees for preparing Owner’s Association documents if applicable, outstanding bills and taxes, and other miscellaneous items.  In some states, closing costs can also include recording fees and transfer taxes, though these don’t apply in Texas.

Repairs and upgrades 3%

Typical cost: ~3%, or $6,000 on a $200,000 house, but varies widely

Even small cosmetic issues can turn prospective home buyers off, so it’s usually in your best interest to make at least some repairs and improvements before putting your house on the market.  Things like painting, replacing old carpet, fixing leaky faucets, and repairing squeaky floorboards can contribute to a faster sale at a higher price, but don’t forget to account for the costs associated with having these done.

Further, if your house is older or hasn’t been updated or remodeled as recently as other homes that are selling on the market, you probably also want to consider making some bigger upgrades.  Again, this can really raise the value of the property, but be sure to factor in the costs of performing the upgrades!

Finally, often the biggest expense associated with preparing your house for a sale can come as a surprise when the buyer has the house inspected.  If the inspector finds a problem with the plumbing, roof, or electrical system, the buyer will usually either want them repaired before closing the sale or ask for a concession to account for the costs.  These types of issues can cost thousands of dollars, so it’s important to be prepared for the possibility of having to incur these costs.

Other costs of selling a house to consider

Pre-sale inspection

If you’re interested in avoiding any inspection surprises, you could opt to purchase an inspection before you list your property on the market.  You can expect to spend around $400, but the price may be worth it to remove any unknowns and help you to know what you can do to get your house in great condition to impress potential buyers.  Remember that you will likely be obligated to disclose any issues with the property that are uncovered in this inspection.

Staging 

Many sellers choose to take advantage of the benefits of staging a home, especially when the house is vacant and/or has an unusual floor plan.  Having attractive furniture and accessories can really help the buyer envision living in the house and increase the desirability.  Costs for staging vary based on the amount you are able to do yourself, the size of the house, and the extent of the work, but it will usually cost at least several hundred dollars, and can easily cost quite a bit more.

Holding costs

If you move out of the house before listing it, you will want to keep the utilities on so that there will be lighting and climate control for the showings.  You’ll also need to continue to pay the mortgage, taxes, insurance, and any HOA dues until the sale is closed.  These “holding costs” are usually smaller than other costs of selling a home, but you probably don’t want to forget about them.

Mortgage payoff

Usually the proceeds from the sale of your house will cover the remaining balance on the mortgage, but you should be aware that the final amount you owe to the bank is likely to be more than what’s listed as the payoff amount on your mortgage statement.  Often there is an amount of pro-rated interest that will get added, or a pre-payment penalty if that’s included in the terms of your loan.

Additional miscellaneous costs

As if all the items already listed weren’t enough, there are a few other miscellaneous items to consider.  Especially in a buyers market, you may want to opt to spend some money on things like marketing or a home warranty (typically $300-$600) to help sell the home.  Finally, don’t forget about the expenses associated with cleaning the house and moving out!

As you can see, the costs of selling a house can add up quickly, with the major costs typically coming to 9-12% of the sale price in total, or $18,000-$24,000 on a $200,000 house.  Additional other costs can add hundreds or sometimes thousands of dollars.  If you want to read more on this topic, we recommend this article with a detailed breakdown of the costs of selling a house in Texas.

Did you know that you can avoid most of the costs of selling a house by selling to a home buyer?  By selling to a home buyer, you avoid all real estate agent fees and even the need to make repairs!  You can learn more on our post about the differences between selling with an agent and a home buyer or our How It Works page.  If you are interested in speaking with a home buyer that serves Brenham and the surrounding areas, we’d love for you to Contact Us!

 

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