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The cost of selling a home is on the rise

A recent analysis puts the average total at more than $18,000

Photo (c) Andy Dean - Fotolia
We know how hard it is to buy a home in today's market, with rising prices and declining inventories.

But it's no picnic for sellers, at least when it comes to opening their wallets. Yes, they likely stand to clear thousands of dollars on the sale, but that can sometimes obscure the costs of selling a home, which can be considerable.

Real estate marketplace Zillow and home service website Thumbtack have totaled up the expected and unexpected costs of selling a home and found the average seller will pay $18,342 in selling expenses.

The anticipated expense includes closing costs. If a full-commission Realtor is involved in the sale, the seller pays 6 percent of the sale price. Other closing costs may include paying a lawyer, local taxes, and fees to file assorted documents.

Closing costs

On a national average, home sellers pay $13,357 in agent commissions and closing costs, but that total is a lot more in the expensive housing markets on the coasts.

Zillow calculates closing costs on a median home in San Jose, Calif., one of the pricier housing markets, are nearly $75,000. But selling a median-priced home in Indianapolis costs a lot less -- $8,604 on average -- because homes there cost a lot less. Indiana has no transfer tax, which also helps to keep the cost down.

But closing costs aren't the only expenses a home seller faces. Zillow found that 78 percent of homeowners putting their houses on the market will make at least one home improvement.

Hiring a professional to perform basic seller prep projects like painting, staging, carpet cleaning, lawn care, and gardening costs an average of $5,000. Then, once a buyer has performed a home inspection, there could be other repairs or modifications required to close the deal.

"Even in the hottest housing markets in the country, selling a home takes time and costs money," said Jeremy Wacksman, Zillow's chief marketing officer. "From decluttering and staging to pre-inspections, agents and homeowners often spend months behind the scenes prepping a home – well before it's listed on the market."

What to do

Wacksman's advice? Before listing your home for sale, do some research to determine what costs you may be responsible for and how they could affect your profit or budget for your next house.

Carefully consider the cost of any improvement you think will make your home more attractive to a buyer. Real estate experts say most buyers these days want a home in "move-in" condition, so improvements should be focused on painting and flooring and repairing things that are broken.

However, major upgrades usually don't pay for themselves in a home sale transaction. It's often more cost effective to lower your price slightly than remodel a kitchen or bath.

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