How Much Does It Cost to Sell a House?

If you’re thinking about selling your house, you’ll want to know how much it’s going to cost you to do so. The average cost of selling a home in the US is approximately 10 – 15 percent of your home’s sale price. This includes getting the house ready to list, the cost to hire movers, real estate agent commission and fees, and the cost to address any necessary repairs. 

As an example, at 15 percent, the cost to sell a $250,000 house could be as much as $37,500. Of course, every situation is unique, and your costs will vary. This guide gives you an overview of how much it costs to sell a house so you can be prepared and make a plan for buying your next home.

two story brick home for sale

How much can I sell my house for? 

Before you can know how much it will cost you to sell your home, you need to find out how much your home is worth. The housing market can vary day-to-day due to local factors such as supply and demand in your area and larger macro-economic factors such as how the U.S. economy is doing. However, while this is true, you can also only sell your house for what someone else is willing to pay for it. 

To quickly get an idea of what you can get for your home, we recommend obtaining a free online home-value estimate. Once you get a sense of what your home is worth, the best way to determine what someone might be willing to pay for your home is to see what others have been willing to pay for homes in your area that are comparable to yours, known as real estate comps. This can be determined by having a comparative market analysis (CMA) completed on your home. 

A CMA is an extremely helpful tool when selling your home. They are prepared (at no charge to you) by your real estate agent. Your realtor uses the MLS to obtain information on three or four homes currently on the market or those that have recently sold in your neighborhood. Factors they look at when making the comparison include:

  • Where each of the properties is located
  • How many square feet each house has
  • How old the properties are
  • The number of bedrooms each has
  • The number of bathrooms each home has
  • If there are any unique amenities on the property, like a pool
  • If there have been any additions or upgrades 
  • What condition the interior is in (carpets, wood floors, walls)

Once your agent has all of this information, they can see how your house compares to the other homes to give them a good idea of what your house might sell for. 

Cost of preparing your home to sell 

The cost of preparing your home to sell will vary depending on multiple factors. However, there are several items you may want to spend money on as you prepare to sell your home. 

Home Inspection

One of the first items is a home inspection. Specifically, this is considered a presale or pre-listing home inspection since you, as the seller, are having the inspection performed. The presale inspection will alert you to any potential issues with your house that could cause buyers to walk away. Though not mandatory, the presale inspection provides insight into what might need to be repaired and what may hinder a sale or cause it to fall through altogether. The average home inspection cost runs anywhere between $200 – $500, depending on how big your house is, how old it is, and other factors. 

Keep in mind, if you are in a seller’s market, you may be able to sell your home with few, if any, repairs being made. On the other hand, if you find yourself in a buyer’s market, some of the repairs may need to be completed, or you may need to lower your sale price to offset the cost of the repairs. 

Home repairs

If you opt for a pre-listing inspection, you’ll be able to work on repairing some of the issues listed in the home inspector’s report before listing your house. You’ll want to make sure the roof, electrical systems, plumbing, foundation, drainage, and windows are all in optimal condition before selling. If neglected, these are the types of things that can reveal themselves and may turn off potential buyers.

When it comes to other cosmetic upgrades or home improvements – in some seller’s markets you can easily sell a home in lived-in condition. But in normal markets or a buyer’s market, repairs and upgrades can make or break a deal. Before making any major changes to your home, talk to your real estate agent. They can advise you on whether or not those changes will pay off when selling.

Enhancing curb appeal 

When you’re selling your house, you want to find ways to make it stand out, and enhancing your curb appeal can be a quick and cost-effective way to do so. You don’t necessarily have to paint the exterior of your house to lure potential homebuyers. Simple updates like trimming your hedges and a freshly mowed lawn can go a long way to enhancing the look of your house.  Don’t forget to stage your front porch and back patio too. Adding planters with colorful pots and pressure washing the deck will really make the outside more attractive and can possibly increase the value of your home

Decluttering and cleaning 

Before listing your home, you’ll want to give it a thorough decluttering and cleaning. Of course, you can use your own elbow grease (which will cost you time and a few dollars in cleaning supplies), or you can hire a company to do a one-time deep clean of your home.

For $150 – $250 (on average for a 2,000 square foot home), you can hire a professional cleaning service to make your home shine and free up some valuable time for you to focus on other tasks to get your home ready to sell.

Staging

There are several benefits to staging your home. Two of the most important are the potential increase in the sale price and the shortened time between listing and selling that a staged home typically provides. 

Staging can be done by either hiring a professional or doing it yourself. If you’re willing to hire a professional, you can expect to spend approximately $100 – $350 for an initial home staging consultation. You will pay between $250 – $3,000 for hands-on staging using items you already own or combining your items with those of the staging company.

During a home staging consultation, the home stager makes recommendations to help prepare your house to sell. You decide what suggestions you may want to implement and whether you will be the one doing the staging, or if you’ll pay to hire the home staging company to complete the project for you. 

Professional photos

Research shows hiring a professional real estate photographer can help homes sell faster and for more money. The investment is typically small, but the payoff can be massive when it comes to selling. Real estate photography usually costs between $100-$300 per shoot, however, if you’re working with an agent, their brokerage will likely cover this cost for you.

Real estate commission 

When choosing a real estate agent with a proven track record, the time it takes you is another “cost” you will incur when preparing to sell your home. While not necessarily a monetary expense, your time is valuable, and you will want to meet with several real estate agents to ensure you’re signing with the right one. Their commission along with the buyer’s agent commission is where you’ll have to pay out of pocket.   

One of the biggest costs of selling a house is the agent’s commission. The typical real estate commission is between 5 – 6 percent of the home’s sale price. If your home sells for $250,000, at 6 percent, you will pay $15,000 in realtor fees. Almost always, the seller pays the total commission cost. The real estate commission covers all the services your agent brings to help sell your home and will be detailed out in your listing agreement

Home seller concessions 

“Seller concessions” are when the seller agrees to pay certain costs for the buyer, usually as a tactic to sweeten the deal so the buyer is more likely to close. The buyer includes their request for concessions in their initial offer and becomes part of the negotiation process. 

For instance, a buyer can make an offer on your house but ask that you pay for the inspection, their home warranty, or other closing costs. As the seller, you can agree to pay all of that amount, a portion of it, or reject it outright. 

Seller concessions are often market-driven. This means you won’t find too many sellers paying concessions in a seller’s market. If you’re selling during a buyer’s market, you may have to agree to pay some of the buyer’s closing costs to get your house sold. 

Closing costs for the seller

Closing costs are an assortment of fees (not including agent commission) that are paid by both buyers and sellers at the end of a real estate transaction. They are typically 2-4% of the home’s sale price. Here is a list of the typical closing costs for the seller:

  • Lender’s title policy
  • Survey cost
  • Property transfer taxes
  • Appraisal fee
  • Recording fees
  • Owner’s title policy
  • Settlement fees
  • Attorney costs
  • Any liens or second mortgages that are on the property
  • Any seller concessions

How to calculate closing costs for the seller? 

A good way to calculate seller closing costs is by utilizing a seller closing cost calculator.

This calculator allows you to plug in the sale price of your home, your current mortgage information, and your closing date, to estimate your total closing cost fees.

Relocation costs 

Any time you make a move, there are expenses involved. These may be as big as hiring a professional moving company to come in, pack your personal belongings, load them onto a truck, haul them across town or across the country, and off-load them. Or they could be as simple as buying cardboard moving boxes from your local hardware store, packing up your items, and borrowing a friend’s truck to move everything yourself. Regardless, the cost to relocate must be thought through and budgeted for as well.   

4 Ways to reduce the cost of selling your home 

  1. There are many ways to reduce the cost of selling your home. For starters, invest in a pre-listing home inspection as mentioned earlier, and carefully consider what repairs are needed. See how many of the repairs you are qualified to do yourself and research any projects you’d like to do that could boost the value of your home. All home improvement projects are not created equal, and you don’t want to dump money into something that won’t provide a good return on your investment. 
  2. When you get to the staging portion of selling your home, do it yourself or only pay to have one or two rooms staged, like the kitchen and living room, which are two of the most important rooms in the house. 
  3. To try and save on closing costs, such as if you’re in a seller’s market, you have the upper hand and probably won’t need to offer any concessions to the buyer. 
  4. As for the actual move, do as much yourself as possible. If you just don’t have the time or are otherwise unable to move, you may want to skip the professional mover and instead opt for a mobile moving storage unit. The container is delivered to your home, you load it up, and the company takes it to your new residence. 

How much does it cost to sell a house by owner? 

A seller who decides to sell their house by owner must front all the costs, and responsibilities, that are typically handled by a real estate agent. 

One of the first things you would need to do is to determine a sale price. Since you don’t have access to a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to research comparable sales, the next best option to determine value would be to get a home appraisal. This will cost you about $400.

As far as marketing your home, you will need professional photographs of your home’s exterior and every room in the house. Hiring a photographer will cost anywhere from $100 – $300 depending on where you live. 

Another aspect of marketing your home yourself is getting it in front of potential buyers. You can put a “For Sale” sign in the yard, post it online, and possibly take an ad out in your local newspaper. The amount you advertise will determine how much you spend. 

Remember that pre-listing home inspection? You will want to have that done when selling by owner to see if any repairs need to be completed before listing your home. The average cost for an inspection is about $400. 

Another thing to consider is all the forms you will need. While you can get free real estate forms online, you may wish to hire a real estate attorney to look over the documents. The cost will vary depending on how much time the attorney spends on your transaction. 

You will be responsible for negotiating every aspect of the sale (price and any repairs) and setting up a time to close. So, while some costs of selling a house on your own are easy enough to determine, others (like how much time you will spend on the transaction from listing to closing) can be more difficult to estimate. 

How much will I make selling my house?

The amount you net on the sale of your home will depend on things like the current market conditions, how long you’ve been paying your mortgage, and whether you have a second mortgage. To determine how much you would make by selling your house, you can use this basic equation:

Sale price – cost to sell your house + your mortgage balance = home proceeds

Or, another way is to simply use a home proceeds calculator to determine how much money you will make selling your home. Though these calculators don’t take into account any repairs your home may need, staging, or relocating costs you might also incur. 

Before listing your home for sale, you’ll want to take time to calculate each of the costs associated with selling a home. The more accurately you can estimate how much it will cost to sell your house, the better prepared you will be. Most importantly, you’ll have a better idea of how much you’ll have left over after the sale to put towards your next home.

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