You’ll Spend This Much to Sell a Home in 2019

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Unhappy home seller
ZephyrMedia /

Selling a home is supposed to make you money. And it’s true that a big percentage of homeowners actually squeeze a profit out of a home sale.

But hidden costs likely will eat into your profit. And in 2019, you can expect those costs to steal an average of $20,851 directly out of your pocket, according to Zillow and Thumbtack’s 2019 Hidden Costs of Selling analysis.

That ding to your wallet is primarily a result of closing costs, and improvements and other projects you make when prepping your home for sale, the analysis finds.

Zillow says closing costs — including agent commissions and transfer or sales taxes — add up to about $14,281, on average, nationally. And they can be much higher in pricier markets.

The cost of prepping a home for sale and moving costs to a new home also quickly add up to push the total cost of selling a home over that $20,000 mark, as Zillow notes:

“Sellers who hire professional help for common home prep projects tend to spend, based on a national average, $6,570 on improvements like interior and exterior painting, staging, and carpet cleaning, as well as local moving costs to their new home. But with the cost of labor varying by market, sellers in different areas could see significantly different costs.”

For example, sellers in Sacramento, California, can spend about $7,800 preparing their home for sale. By contrast, sellers in Phoenix are likely to earmark about $4,000 for the same projects.

Owners who tackle home improvement projects before selling add more to that average tab. In fact, the overwhelming majority of home sellers — 79% — finish at least one such project before listing their home, the analysis found.

In one sense, this is smart. Sellers who make such upgrades are more likely to sell above their asking price compared with sellers who don’t — 22% versus 16%, according to a separate Zillow report.

However, as we recently reported in “5 Home Upgrades That Never Pay Off,” many home improvements fail to recoup their full costs.

How to sell your home for the price you want

If you hope to sell your home for a profit, plan carefully. Don’t undertake any home improvement project unless you are confident it will pay off.

To find a list of such projects, check out “These 10 Home Improvements Offer the Highest Returns.”

Sometimes, prepping a house can include modest improvements that are easy on your wallet and pay big returns, as we have noted in “Selling Your Home — Here’s How to Create Maximum Curb Appeal“:

“Clean the front door and give it a couple of coats of paint. Repair, replace or remove damaged screen doors and storm doors. Remove everything, including furniture and pots, from the porch, deck or entry and give the entire area a thorough cleaning. Repaint or touch up where needed.”

Finally, make sure you price the home correctly. Learn how to do this by reading “How to Price Your Home So It Sells for Top Dollar.”

Do you have tips for selling your home successfully? Share them in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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