Everyone knows that selling a home costs money. The trick, as the homeseller, is to minimize your costs…without hurting your home’s sale price. The problem is that it’s tempting to cut all “unnecessary” spending and just give your buyers a new carpet allowance but that won’t work — you’ll wind up taking a cut in profit and taking longer to sell.
Don’t fall into that trap — find out what’s negotiable and what’s not in our home seller’s cost guide:
Your mileage may vary
We can give you ballpark numbers and national averages but many of these numbers will vary depending on where you’re at. Research costs specific to your location and adjust your expectations accordingly. State and county laws can also affect these costs, along with the cost of living in your city.
Your specific costs will depend on whether you get a real estate agent or not. You might think going the for-sale-by-owner route will save you money but it probably won’t. We cover why that is in our article on what it’s like to sell a house on your own.
For a rough estimate of the selling cost of a house, count on it being 7-10% of the closing cost.
There’s some wiggle room here though. For example, if you’re in a seller’s’ market, you may be able to negotiate for the buyer to pick up more of the costs than usual, simply because you have multiple buyers on the table. You can also use the True Cost to Sell calculator to get a more accurate idea than the 7-10% ballpark.
Either way, here’s a breakdown of the costs that go into selling your home:
Painting, Repairs, and Contract Work Adds Up
Everyone knows that your house should look its best to get the best price. Part of that is the obvious work that goes into prepping your home for marketing — staging, photography, and all that jazz. We’ll get to that in a moment, but now let’s talk about the less glamorous contract work: painting, repairs, and cleaning, to name a few.
How will I know if I need to do the work?
You should definitely clean your home before an open house. That’s a no-brainer.
It’s a good idea to have professionals do it, simply because they’ll catch things you missed and do a more thorough job. As for the other work in this section, your real estate agent will be able to advise you about what should be done vs. what isn’t necessary, depending on the condition of your home and on your local market trends.
For a single-story home between 500 and 1,500 square feet, painting costs typically range between $1,000 and $3,000. Two story homes between 1,500 and 3,000 square feet are usually between $3,000 and $4,500, and three story homes between 3,000 and 6,000 square feet range from $4,500 to over $6,000.
The cost of this will depend not just on the size of your house, but on the material the exterior is made of. As a general rule of thumb, metal siding will be among the least expensive sidings to paint, and stucco siding is typically on the higher end.
Some painting professionals offer a package price, but others will charge extra for exterior features (gutters, etc.). Make sure to ask if the price estimate includes your door(s), gutters and downspouts, shutters, or any other exterior features the painter will have to deal with.
The cost for painting an average-sized (10’x12’) room ranges from $380-790, which doesn’t include the ceilings, trim, or the cost of the paint. After the size of the room, the wall texture will be the second biggest factor in price — textured walls take up more paint, so they cost more.
Paint, depending on brand and finish, will usually be $30-60/gallon, and painting a room usually requires at least two gallons. You can use this calculator to estimate how many cans of paint you’ll need.
Doing it yourself is, of course, an option, but you’ll still wind up paying $90-150 on the low end, and $200-300 as a more reasonable estimate. Don’t forget to factor in for how much time it will take when you weigh your options.
- Home Advisor has cost estimates for both exterior and interior painting that can be adjusted by location.
- Use marketplaces like Thumbtack or Angie’s List to find painters to work with, or just search for local painters and check their reviews on Google or Yelp.
Home Interior Cleaning
This will vary depending not just on the size of your home, but the size of the company you go with. Cleanify can give you quotes from different local cleaning companies, and Handy can have a cleaning professional to your home within 48 hours (in available areas).
Handy will be less expensive (roughly $30-40/hr), but the services are provided by solo contractors who don’t have the same cleaning equipment that a full cleaning company does. For a deep-cleaning for a 1-2 bedroom home, you’ll usually pay $200-400 depending on your area.
Home Exterior Cleaning
Your two main options here are pressure washing and power washing. Pressure washing uses — you guessed it! — high-velocity pressure to get rid of dirt, dust, and grime (but can damage windows or glass panels if done incorrectly). Power washing uses hot water to get rid of grime and dirt.
For the outside of a house, you’re looking at $100-300 for pressure washing and $220-380 for power washing.
In addition to getting your house siding washed, you can also get your patio/deck and driveway washed. This will add $80-220 to the cost for a driveway and $250-500 to the cost for a deck or patio, depending on your area and choice of professionals.
Much like painting, your package price for outdoor washing might include window cleaning/washing, or it might not. Don’t forget to ask if details like windows or sliding glass doors are included.
Home Repairs Costs
This might be something as simple as getting new cabinet fixtures, ranging up to resurfacing countertops or getting plumbing issues fixed. Your agent will be able to tell you specific areas of improvement where you’ll get the most bang for your buck.
Depending on the skill level needed and the intensity of the repairs, average hourly rates should be around $45-150 (but can go higher for specialized or difficult work). Thumbtack and Angie’s List can help you find local contractors, and Handy also has a handyman options available for repairs (instead of cleaning).
Advertising Costs Money: Staging, Photos, and Beautification
No question — selling a house (at the right price and speed) is about marketing, and marketing is about making things look good. Your potential buyers need to be able to see themselves in your home. Photos and videos are crucial for online listings, and homes that are staged spend 72% less time on the market according to the Real Estate Staging Association.
Depending on your agent, these costs (along with some or all of the above costs) might be included in their fees. In case you’re paying out of pocket, here’s what you can expect to shell out:
Cost of Staging
On average, it will cost 1-1.5% of your home’s list price to stage the key rooms of your home.
This is all-inclusive, covering both the design and the merchandise, whether it’s rented or your own furniture.
Hiring a professional stager for one-off consultation will average $100-150/hr. After a consultation, you’ll get a to-do list of improvements to make in your home staging (or often, the option to hire the stager to complete the rest of the project).
If you’ll be paying out of pocket, your agent should have recommendations for staging professionals that they trust.
Cost of Photography/Videography
Prices for this will vary depending on how big your home is, the amount of photos delivered, and if photography/videography are bundled together or done as separate services.
You can expect to pay $150-300 as a baseline price for photography, but possibly more if your house is larger (or you’re in an area with a high cost of living, or the photographer is very experienced – etc.). For bundled services, add another $200-400 to that cost. For videography alone, you’ll probably pay $300-500.
Look for someone who specializes in real estate photography — it’s a different skill set than weddings or portraits. Again, your agent should have recommendations.
Real Estate Agent Fees
On average, you’ll pay 6% commission to your agent. Sometimes, depending on what’s included in the agent fee (like any of the above services) or their professional background, you might pay more.
Don’t just evaluate agents on who will take the lowest commission. An agent who charges a lower price might wind up taking on more clients to compensate, spreading their time and attention too thin. Or, they might just be bad negotiators — why would you want someone to negotiate for you if they can’t even negotiate for themselves?
Taxes and Other Fees
This is another area where costs will vary. Federal taxes are the same across the USA, obviously, but local taxes will vary (along with what’s counted under escrow, for example). Here’s an overview:
- Title insurance (varies widely by state, $500-1500, can be negotiated)
- Closing fees ($200-800, usually split between buyer and seller)
- Recording fees for the deed and any mortgages that have to be released, wiring fees for loan payoffs, and possibly bank charges for providing pay-off figures ($50-500, depending on number of loans and pay-offs)
- Taxes, including property taxes, transfer taxes, and any local taxes (varies widely based on location)
- Maybe HOA costs, if you live in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association — some HOAs charge a percentage fee upon a sale, or a transfer fee
- Home inspection ($300-500)
Now that you’re familiar with all the costs, the first step to get you on your way is to determine your home’s value. Start getting estimates today with our home value estimator and connect with top local real estate agents in the process, if you want.