13 Hidden Costs of Selling a House Nobody is Talking About

SAVING & SPENDING - HOME & AUTO
Selling your home comes with hidden fees most owners need to plan for as they prepare to move.
Updated May 8, 2024
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man selling his house

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When you decide to sell your home, you may think that all you have to do is list it for the price you want. However, it’s not uncommon for homeowners to spend thousands of dollars when selling their homes.

Being aware of these “hidden costs” can help you determine the price of your property — and potentially boost your bank account.

Here are some of these elusive costs you need to know about.

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Real estate commission

JacobLund/Adobe interracial couple having consultation with a realtor

This could be one you’re anticipating, but perhaps the amount is where the shock comes into play. Real estate commissions run between 5% and 6% of the home’s sale price.

If your home sells for $200,000, that in itself is up to $12,000 you’ll pay out to your agent. There may be opportunities to negotiate this cost down so you can avoid wasting money, but that’s hard to do.

Home staging costs

Kzenon/Adobe couple buying couch in furniture store

Staging your home is a big process. It often involves removing as much clutter and material as possible and setting up the home in the most attractive way possible to encourage buyers to see themselves in that space.

Home staging costs range from $750 to $2,800 if you hire a professional.

You could do the work yourself if you have appropriate furniture to use to get the best results. Staging takes skill and experience to get just right, though.

Loan payoff fees

fizkes/Adobe  woman calculating taxes

The amount owed on your existing mortgage must be paid in full at the time of the sale. Most commonly, the amount received for the sale covers most of those costs.

However, prorated interest on the mortgage can be a factor. The lender may stipulate that you need to pay a prepayment penalty if you are paying off the mortgage within a specific timeframe of purchasing the home.

Find out from your lender if there is a prepayment penalty since this could amount to thousands of dollars.

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Title insurance fees

pathdoc/Adobe shocked woman in car reading insurance paper

Title insurance is a type of protection from claims made against the owner of the home. It’s common for the seller to pay the buyer’s title insurance cost.

If there are concerns with the title of the home, this insurance helps cover the buyer’s losses.

Property tax

makibestphoto/Adobe businessman hands with house model

You may owe property taxes for the time you’ve lived in your home. In many states, these are paid in arrears, which means after time passes.

If you paid taxes in January for the previous six months but sell your home in March, you may owe property taxes for three months (January through March) of the current year.

In short, you’ll pay based on the length of time you’ve lived in the home.

Home cleaning and prep

sofiko14/Adobe people cleaning client house

You’ll need to prep your home as a part of the process of preparing it for sale. This could include cleaning the carpets, power washing the driveway, paying for updates to the exterior, trimming trees, and even a few coats of paint indoors.

Even if you do the work yourself, you still have to consider the cost of materials and supplies to make these upgrades.

The hope here is that any money you put into the home comes back to you in terms of a higher sale price.

Professional photos

Cody/Adobe photographer filming a house for real estate video

The photos you use in your home’s listing are one of your most powerful marketing tools. Ensuring they are done well and positively showcasing your home is critical to getting people to see the property in person.

That’s why it is typically worth paying a professional fee for this service instead of doing it yourself or using your agent. The costs depend on size and location but can range from $500 to $1,000.

Utilities

DragonImages/Adobe paying with banking application on smartphone

It’s your responsibility to pay for the utilities you use until the day the home transfers to the new homeowners. You may not realize it initially, but that could mean added costs even if you’ve moved out.

For example, you’ll need to keep the air conditioning and heating on even when your home’s empty. You also may need to pay for water, sewer, and electricity for those final days.

Capital gains tax

saksit/Adobe stressed couple calculate bills tax on the laptop

A capital gains tax is a fee levied on the difference between the amount you spent buying your home and the amount you sell it for, minus improvements you’ve made.

There are a lot of exemptions to this tax that could reduce how much you actually have to pay. It’s worth having a conversation with a tax professional before you decide to sell your home.

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HOA fees

Art_Photo/Adobe senior couple reading documents and calculating bills to pay

Then there are the homeowner’s association fees to consider. You may owe these fees, or a portion of them, for the month you’re leaving.

These monthly dues are the same ones you’re already paying month-to-month to help cover maintenance costs.

Attorney fees

Jirapong/Adobe contractor provides special compensation to the authorized signatory

Attorneys typically write up the sales contracts and any other terms and conditions of the sale. Their fees are often included in your real estate agent’s fee and are another unexpected cost of selling a home.

It’s not unusual to spend $100 to $200 on attorney costs, especially if you’re not using a real estate agent.

Radon gas testing

Valmedia/Adobe checking the insulation levels inside a domestic home

Sometimes a seller may be asked to complete a radon gas test. This helps ensure the home does not have this gas present, which often indicates the home isn’t ventilated properly.

The cost of this type of test will range by location, with at-home versions costing up to $250 and professionals charging $150 to $800.

Additional seller concessions

itchaznong/Adobe agent holding the home keys to give to the customer

There may be additional costs associated with the sale of the home if you agree to seller concessions.

You may agree to pay a portion of the buyer’s closing costs as a part of the deal. There could be repairs or upgrades that your buyer asks to be put into the sales contract. This is all part of the negotiations you do with the buyer to come to an agreement.

For example, you may agree to pay to reduce the home’s overall price to account for the repair of a broken sewer pipe. Instead of doing the work yourself, you’ve reduced what the buyer has to pay to you so they can handle the repairs later.

Bottom line

fizkes/Adobe mortgage broker consult couple showing online presentation

Selling your home comes with a lot of hidden costs. In addition to these costs to sell the home, there are a number of additional expenses you need to factor in.

These can include the costs of moving into a new home, including paying movers, using a storage unit for a short time, and buying new furniture.

Knowing what to expect can help you lower your financial stress and get on top of these costs so they don’t surprise you.

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Author Details

Sandy Baker Sandy Baker is a has over 17 years of experience in the financial sector. Her experience includes website content, blogs, and social media. She’s worked with companies such as Realtor.com, Bankrate, TransUnion, Equifax, and Consumer Affairs.

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