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Hidden Cost of Selling a House

If you’re selling your home, hopefully, you’re expecting a decent profit in return – if you’re selling in a pricey area of the country like the San Francisco Bay Area and moving to a place like Boise, Idaho, it’s probably going to be significant.

But before you start figuring out how you’re going to use that extra cash, you’ll want to be aware of all the hidden costs of selling a house.

While there is the obvious cost – paying off your mortgage (assuming you have one) many sellers are surprised to find the cost of selling a house is more than they expected.

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Hidden Costs of Selling a House

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Preparing for Sale

Although this is technically an optional cost, your realtor will likely recommend that you make minor repairs and updates to your home before listing it to maximize the sales price.

Most real estate agents tend to suggest things like cleaning or replacing the carpet, painting the interior, and having your home professionally cleaned.

You may also want to hire a gardener or landscaper to be sure your yard looks well-maintained, trimming overgrown bushes and trees, keeping the lawn immaculately mowed and perhaps even adding some plants and flowers to up the appeal even more. If there are any repairs that you’ve been putting off, you should do those before listing your home as well.


In most cases, the seller pays commission to both the buyer’s and seller’s agent. This can be up to 6% of the sale price of the home, with half going to each agent. If your home sells for $300,000, for example, that commission would be $18,000, taking a huge chunk of profits.

Of course, if you are listing your own home, known as ‘For Sale By Owner,’ commission will only be paid to the buyer’s agent. The problem with that is that most FSBO homes sell for less than had an agent been used which is why 91% of homes are sold with a licensed agent.

On average homes put up for sale by the owner without a realtor sell for 33% less than a home that is listed by an agent, according to the National Association of Realtors. Review your agent’s contract thoroughly and identify all fees and commissions they will be charging.


If you plan on staging your home, there will be a consultation fee and a monthly fee per room if you use the stager’s furnishings and décor, which comes at a cost as high as $700 per month. You can save money by staging the home yourself and using your furniture.

The most important part of staging a home is cleaning, organizing and completely decluttering. If you decide to take this task on your own, be sure to speak with your real estate agent who will have suggestions on how to best accomplish that.

Miscellaneous Fees

Although the following fees are negotiable, it’s generally accepted that the buyer pays a few miscellaneous fees. The transfer tax, which can cost up to $750, varies by city and state. The buyer is responsible for lender insurance, but the seller must buy title insurance, approximately $750 to $1,000. A home warranty is also purchased for the buyer’s protection.

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