7 things that can increase the cost of selling a house

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Selling your home can be an expensive process riddled with hidden fees. Staging, pre-sale inspections, real estate commission fees and closing expenses are among the many costs that can easily add thousands to selling a house.

These costs also vary significantly depending on where you’re selling. For instance, some states require that sellers hire a real estate attorney, while others don’t. Real estate transfer taxes also differ by state and, in some cases, by city. Some states don’t have them at all. Fees also can vary by mortgage lender. 

“You have to look at where the variations are bank to bank, municipality to municipality and state to state,” said Linda Page, the 2018 National Association of Realtors (NAR) regional vice president for New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. 

If you’re selling your home, you should be aware of the expenses that can be involved. We’ve broken down some of the most common costs associated with selling a home so that you know what to be prepared for.

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How much does it cost to sell a home?

It’s important to note that some costs don’t need to be paid upfront or out of pocket — many expenses come out of home sale proceeds. However, it’s still worth paying attention to each expense, as every penny saved can go toward your next home.

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1. Closing costs

In a home sale, buyers always pay more than sellers in closing costs. That said, some closing costs are still paid by the seller, and what those costs are depends on the state of the sale. 

Closing costs paid for by the seller can include expenses like real estate transfer taxes, appraisal fees, title insurance fees, water and sewer transfer fees, homeowners association transfer fees and attorney fees. Typically, these costs are deducted from the home’s total sales price at closing. 

Closing costs vary because of differences in state laws. For example, Page said that in New York state, sellers can expect to pay 7-10 percent of their mortgage in closing costs. In Colorado, though, sellers may spend only 1.5-2 percent on closing costs, said Renee Cohen, a realtor based in Englewood, Colorado.

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2. Taxes

In addition to prorated property taxes (if applicable in the state of the sale), many sellers must pay real estate transfer taxes, which cover the transfer of the deed. Transfer taxes vary by state: In Pennsylvania, the transfer tax rate is 1 percent of the sales price, while it’s only 0.16 percent in Iowa, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In states like Texas, Alaska and Indiana, there is no real estate transfer tax. 

“Every state has different requirements when you transfer property,” said Page.

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3. Pre-sale inspections

Although pre-sale inspections are not mandatory, Cohen said that sellers can benefit from conducting them. Doing so allows a seller to know the condition of their house and what repairs, if any, need to be completed before putting their house on the market. 

“Many sellers do it, because it’s nice to be able to say to a buyer, ‘Here’s my pre-inspection report, take it and do with it what you want,’” Cohen added. 

The cost of a pre-sale inspection varies by area, but Cohen said that sellers can expect to pay between $500 and $600.

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4. Home repairs

Even if a home is in seemingly good condition, an inspection still can turn up issues that require fixing. Some repairs, such as those that affect the safety and structure of the home, must be fixed before the sale. 

Other problems, such as cosmetic issues, don’t need to be repaired by the seller. Other fixes may be negotiated by the buyer and the seller.

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5. Realtor commissions

Real estate agent commissions can be one of the biggest expenses associated with selling a home. Remember that Realtor rates vary by location — according to Cohen, sellers in Colorado typically spend between 5% and 7% of the total sales price on real estate agent commission fees. 

“Realtors can charge different amounts,” Cohen said. “They may charge flat fees, they may charge percentages. And that may vary depending on where you are, and who the realtor is that you actually work with.” 

Keep in mind that not only are realtor fees negotiable, but that you can also sell your home yourself, said David Demming, a certified financial planner in Aurora, Ohio. 

“A lot of people fixate on the realtor and think, ‘Oh, maybe I can negotiate down the commission on that,’” he said — “Yes, you can.” At the same time, Demming encourages home sellers to sell their home themselves because they can offer a discount to buyers during negotiations. 

Selling one’s home without a real estate agent is called “For Sale By Owner,” or FSBO. Although it can save on commission fees, it does require work and expertise. If you are not experienced in real estate or don’t have ample time for home showings with prospective buyers, meetings with lawyers and other administrative tasks, the FSBO route might not be right for you.

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6. Staging and cleaning costs

Staging makes a home appealing to buyers so that the seller can land a higher sales price. Staging a home is not mandatory, but it’s worth considering if the house is vacant or if the décor and furniture are outdated.

Staging costs vary greatly and depend on how much needs to be done, according to Lisa Bohlken, a listing agent in the San Diego area. 

“Some houses, you go to put them on the market, and the people live like they’re in a magazine already, and there’s not much to do,” she said. Other times, she’s had to do everything from hire landscapers and contractors to photographers and cleaners. 

“It really depends on the seller, what their budget is and what their motivation and timing is,” Bohlken added. “You can spend almost nothing, or you can spend a lot of money if you have it, and that will net you a lot more money.” 

Even if you don’t hire someone to stage your home, you may need to hire a cleaning service, a window-washing service and landscapers. You can do many of these tasks yourself by renting a carpet shampooer, carpet steamer or lawnmower if you don’t have them already.

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7. Moving costs

Once you close on your home, it can be tempting to sit back and relax with the money you netted. Before counting your cash, though, remember that you still have to move. 

If you’re moving across the country, the expenses can be staggering. According to HomeAdvisor, the national average cost of moving across the country is $2,976. Even if you rent a truck and conduct the move yourself, you’re still looking at several hundred dollars in gas and truck rental fees,. Hiring movers only adds to that expense.

This article originally appeared on LendingTree.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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