What are the costs of selling a home?

author-avatar By on October 30, 2020
What are the costs of selling a home?

Photo by HiveBoxx on Unsplash

Most people are aware of the costs involved with buying a home, but what about if you’re selling one?

When you’re selling your home it’s easy to focus on the imminent large cash windfall you’re likely to receive after accepting a buyer's offer.

However, it’s vitally important you give thought to the costs involved with selling a home, of which there are many, including some which can be particularly expensive.

Buying a home or looking to refinance? The table below features home loans with some of the lowest variable interest rates on the market for owner occupiers.

Base criteria of: a $400,000 loan amount, variable, fixed, principal and interest (P&I) home loans with an LVR (loan-to-value) ratio of at least 80%. If products listed have an LVR <80%, they will be clearly identified in the product name along with the specific LVR. The product and rate must be clearly published on the Product Provider’s web site. Monthly repayments were calculated based on the selected products’ advertised rates, applied to a $400,000 loan with a 30-year loan term.


What are the costs of selling a home?

We’ve put together a comprehensive breakdown of the costs you may encounter when selling your home and how much they might be.

Real estate agent fees

Real estate fees can be one of the more expensive costs that come with selling your home. Agents typically work for a commission of what the property sells for, but in some cases may work for a flat fee, regardless of the final sale price.

This commission is usually somewhere between 1-3% of what the property sells for, but Ray White NSW chief executive Andrew McCulloch says this can vary based on the location of the home.

“The commission is really dependent on where you go, but on average across New South Wales it’s usually 2%,” Mr McCulloch told Savings.com.au.

Mr McCulloch added some agents would charge a ‘kicker’.

“So, for instance, we might agree that the house is probably going to sell for around $2,000,000.

“However, the vendor will sometimes say ‘Look if you can get me $2.1 million, everything over $2,000,000 we will do a 5%, or a 10% fee even on that.' And that can be tiered as well.”

Of course, if you wanted to try and avoid real estate agent fees you could try and sell the property yourself, which comes with its own inherent risks and advantages.


Marketing costs

Marketing is arguably one of the most important costs of selling your home. If people don’t know you’re selling and can’t see pictures of the place, you’re probably going to struggle.

Mr McCulloch said the average market fee is around $5,000, but this can vary.

“You might have a more regional town where that fee can be around that $2,000 mark, and you can have blue-chip suburbs where people will spend $10,000 to 20,000 on a marketing campaign,” he said.

This fee covers photography, a shiny ‘For Sale’ sign, and online listings on websites like realestate.com.au and Domain.

Mr McCulloch said costs can rise if you want to extend your campaign beyond these avenues.

“The cost starts to rise depending on the print media you want to be in.

“Is it going into that eastern suburbs local paper? Is it going into the Australian Financial Review, or that sort of thing? Those costs can vary dramatically.”

He added if you pay for a set period of marketing time and make a quick sale, it’s possible to get some of this money back.

“Any marketing money that's already been spent is already obviously gone, but you can get reimbursed for anything not spent.

“If you're 2 weeks into a four-week campaign, you might find you might be able to save potentially a week's worth because you'll find that the third week would have already been booked and paid for.”


Conveyancer’s fees

A conveyancer is a licensed professional who will organise the appropriate documentation needed for selling a home. Some conveyancers are solicitors but this isn’t always the case.

It’s recommended you hire a conveyancer to assist you through the selling process. They typically cost anywhere from $500 to $2,500.

You’re not legally required to use a conveyancer and DIY conveyancing kits cost between $80 to $150. However, real estate is a complex bureaucracy and not adhering to certain regulations could see financial sanctions imposed on you, or cause the property sale to fall through.

Read our full breakdown of conveyancers here.


Auction fees

An auction can be a great way to get a quick sale on a property. Unfortunately, you do have to pay a professional to brandish a gavel to a gaggle of people outside your home.

Mr McCulloch said auction fees cost $600-$1,000 and are non-refundable.

“Some people don't understand is once you book that auction, whether you go to auction or not, you're paying the fee,” he said.

“If I go into a four-week marketing campaign and my house sells in two weeks, I might say can I have the auction fee back?

“But you've already paid for the spot so that money is gone.”


Lender fees

If the sale of your home means you’ll pay your home loan off in full, your lender may charge you a discharge fee. Also known as a termination or settlement fee, this covers the cost of the paperwork associated with finishing up the loan and ranges from $150 to $400.

Exit fees on home loans were banned in July 2011, but if you acquired your mortgage before then, you may still be subject to them.


Property styling

How your property looks is just about the most important thing when it comes to trying to find a buyer, and first impressions count.

It’s going to be hard to find a buyer if you’ve got four-foot-high grass in the garden, peeling paint, and missing roof tiles.

Mr McCulloch said spending a bit of money on freshening the home up can add a significant amount of value.

“Property styling is nearly always recommended in some way, shape or form,” he said.

“Agents often make some suggestions like doing some basic maintenance, or a touch up of paint.

“If we've got a beautiful home and the furniture may just not really suit that style of home, sometimes I will say things like, well you're moving, we might as well start packing. Let's put some of this stuff away and bring in some fresh furniture.”

“People will spend anywhere between that $5,000 to $10,000 mark.”


Capital gains tax

If you’re selling an investment property, or you ever used the home you were living in to generate income, you will have to pay Capital Gains Tax (CGT).

If you make a profit from the sale of your property, that’s defined as a capital gain and has to be taxed accordingly.

The capital gain is added to your taxable income, reported to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and taxed at your appropriate tax bracket.

Read our full explainer on CGT here.


Renovations

Renovations are a completely optional selling cost but can add considerable value to a home.

Agents often use new bathrooms or a new kitchen as a main selling point of a home, while dated features can scare off buyers who don’t want to do any DIY.

Data from Suncorp revealed a kitchen costs $20,750 on average to renovate, and bathrooms $16,250 on average.


Council rates and body corporate fees

Unless you sell your home on the very day the quarter starts, you’re likely to have to pay some council rates for the quarter.

The same logic applies if you’re selling an apartment in a strata building, where you’ll have to pay a part of the body corporate fees for the quarter.

Your conveyancer should be able to assist you in finding out how much these fees are.


Savings.com.au’s two cents

Home selling costs can be broken into two fields: optional and required.

You’ll pretty much always have to pay marketing, real estate agent, and conveyancing fees, while costs like property styling and renovations are optional - but they can add serious value to your home.

You should have a clear budget of how much it’ll cost you to sell your home, as well as how you can get it in the best possible condition to appeal to your desired demographic.


Disclaimers

The entire market was not considered in selecting the above products. Rather, a cut-down portion of the market has been considered which includes retail products from at least the big four banks, the top 10 customer-owned institutions and Australia’s larger non-banks:

  • The big four banks are: ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac
  • The top 10 customer-owned Institutions are the ten largest mutual banks, credit unions and building societies in Australia, ranked by assets under management in November 2020. They are (in descending order): Credit Union Australia, Newcastle Permanent, Heritage Bank, Peoples’ Choice Credit Union, Teachers Mutual Bank, Greater Bank, IMB Bank, Beyond Bank, Bank Australia and P&N Bank.
  • The larger non-bank lenders are those who (in 2020) has more than $9 billion in Australian funded loans and advances. These groups are: Resimac, Pepper, Liberty and Firstmac.
  • If you click on a product link and you are referred to a Product or Service Provider’s web page, it is highly likely that a commercial relationship exists between that Product or Service Provider and Savings.com.au

Some providers' products may not be available in all states. To be considered, the product and rate must be clearly published on the product provider's web site.

In the interests of full disclosure, Savings.com.au, Performance Drive and Loans.com.au are part of the Firstmac Group. To read about how Savings.com.au manages potential conflicts of interest, along with how we get paid, please click through onto the web site links.

*Comparison rate is based on a loan of $150,000 over a term of 25 years. Please note the comparison rate only applies to the examples given. Different loan amounts and terms will result in different comparison rates. Costs such as redraw fees and costs savings, such as fee waivers, are not included in the comparison rate but may influence the cost of the loan.

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Alex joined Savings.com.au in 2019. He is passionate about providing Australians with the information and tools needed to make them financially stable for their futures.

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