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Dollars and Sense: The Real Cost of Selling a Home

Updated: Apr 24



Ladies and gentlemen, homeowners, and future sellers, welcome to the wild and wonderful world of selling your house! It's akin to embarking on a thrilling expedition, where a unique set of fees, charges, and considerations marks every step. Today, we're peeling back the layers and diving deep into how much it costs to sell a house in this beautiful and diverse country.


Realtor Fees: Your Trusted Guides in the Real Estate Wilderness

Our journey into the intricate landscape of selling your home begins with a close examination of Realtor fees. These individuals are your seasoned guides, your trusted real estate sherpas equipped with the knowledge and expertise to help you navigate the treacherous terrain of the real estate market. However, it's essential to understand that their invaluable services are not free of charge.

Realtor fees are not set in stone but can exhibit some variance. While there is no industry standard, it's common to see your combined real estate fees amount to approximately 4% of the final sale price. For instance, suppose your beloved abode successfully commands a sale price of $500,000. In that case, you'll find yourself facing a bill amounting to around $20,000. It's important to note that this fee is typically divided between the buyer's and seller's agents, recognizing the collaborative nature of real estate transactions. That means your listing agent isn’t making a full 4%, instead they’re typically taking some portion of that commission, typically half, and sharing it with the buyer’s agent to attract more buyers to your home.


Legal Fees: The Guardians of Legal Soundness

Selling a property is not straightforward; it involves navigating a web of contracts, negotiations, and intricate paperwork that can quickly leave your head spinning. This is precisely where a real estate lawyer assumes the role of an indispensable guardian. Real estate lawyers are tasked with ensuring that every aspect of your sale is legally sound, helping to avoid the risk of potential legal battles that may arise down the road. The cost of legal fees also ranges, but is usually around $2,000 or, in some cases, even higher. The complexity of your sale often dictates the extent of legal involvement required, influencing the final bill.


Taxes

Sales taxes can come in a variety of forms depending on where you live. In particular, capital gains tax can be a big one if you are selling an investment property and aren’t receiving a tax exemption for your property.


Land transfer taxes are the gatekeepers on the real estate journey, exacting a percentage of the property's sale price. The rates fluctuate considerably from province to province, with Ontario imposing provincial and municipal land transfer taxes, creating a dual financial burden for sellers. In BC the default tax is property transfer tax, the cost for property transfer taxes ranges depending on the sale price of your home, however the typical range to expect for most home owners is the following:


  • 1% of the fair market value up to and including $200,000

  • 2% of the fair market value greater than $200,000 and up to and including $2,000,000

  • 3% of the fair market value greater than $2,000,000


So, for a $500,000 home you could expect to pay about $8,000 ($2,000 + $6,000). And since this is a progressive tax system, the more valuable your home is the more this will cost. For a $1,000,000 home you're looking at about $18,000 ($2,000 + $16,000), and for a $2,500,000 home you're looking at $53,000 ($2,000 + $36,000 + $15,000).


Additionally, you'll also have to consider property tax. The annual amount that the city/municipality charges you for local services. This is important to consider in the purchasing process since property taxes are paid once each year which means that you as the seller are typically paying ahead on the buyer's taxes. In order to make this fair, the buyer is required to reimburse you for the amount you paid forward on their taxes during the period after they take possession. Taxes are commonly due by the beginning of July, so if the sale of your home completes January 1st, then that means the buyer would owe you for approximately 6 months worth of property taxes you paid ahead on last year.


It's essential to recognize that each Province/Territory operates under distinct regulations and tax rates regarding each tax. Due to this regional variation, it's critical to consult local tax authorities to obtain precise details, as these taxes can constitute a substantial expense during the property selling process. Understanding these costs is vital for sellers and buyers to navigate the complex landscape of real estate transactions.


Renovations

The cost of renovations and repairs when selling a home can vary significantly depending on the condition of the property and the extent of work needed. Minor cosmetic touch-ups such as fresh paint and landscaping might cost a few thousand dollars, while more extensive renovations like kitchen or bathroom remodels can range from several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. It's crucial for sellers to carefully assess their budget and prioritize repairs that will provide the best return on investment. While these costs can be a burden, addressing necessary repairs and enhancements can help attract potential buyers, increase the home's market value, and ultimately lead to a more successful and profitable sale.


Home Staging Cost

Now, let's focus on the crucial aspect of home staging. Think of it as the pep talk that gets your team fired up before a big game. The goal is to elevate your home's appeal to potential buyers, ultimately increasing the chances of a higher sale price. However, it's imperative to recognize that home staging is not a cost-free endeavor. The expenses can vary considerably, depending on factors like your residence's size and overall condition.

If staging is not included in your realtor fees, you should allocate a budget ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 or even more. This investment ensures your property is meticulously prepared and presented in its absolute best light. Home staging focuses on creating an inviting atmosphere, arranging furniture strategically, and enhancing visual aesthetics, allowing prospective buyers to envision themselves living in the space. It's a calculated effort to make your home irresistibly appealing and leave a lasting impression on those who step through its doors.


Real Estate Photos

The cost of real estate photos when selling a home can vary based on several factors, including the location of the property, the expertise of the photographer, and the package or services chosen. On average, professional real estate photography may range from $300 to $500 or more. Investing in high-quality photos is often a wise choice, as they can significantly enhance the property's online presence and first impressions, potentially attracting more potential buyers and potentially leading to a quicker and more lucrative sale. While it's an additional expense, the value of captivating real estate photos in marketing a home cannot be underestimated in today's competitive real estate market. Real estate photos are often included in your realtor commission fees, but be ware of this additional cost if photos are not included.


Sales Tax on Real Estate Commissions

In the intricate world of real estate transactions, there's an unexpected financial twist that sellers need to be aware of, and that's the potential sales tax on real estate commissions. Depending on the province where you're conducting your property sale, you might face the Goods and Services Tax (GST) or the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) applied to your REALTOR® fees. It's akin to adding a tax on top of an existing tax, which can significantly impact your overall financial considerations in the sale.

The precise rate at which these taxes are applied varies from province to province, highlighting the importance of verifying the specifics with local tax authorities. It's essential to understand that not all areas impose these taxes on real estate commissions, so your tax liability in this regard might depend on your geographic location.

For sellers, this means proactively researching and understanding the tax regulations applicable to their specific region. Failing to account for these additional costs can lead to unexpected financial surprises during the sale process, potentially affecting the transaction's profitability. You also want to consider if your Realtor’s commission includes GST or if they are charging this over and above commission. GST is typically included within your commission fee, but if it’s not then this may be another added expense you have cover.


Cleaning Fees

When selling your home, it must shine in its best possible light. This means thorough cleaning, both inside and out. Whether you hire a professional cleaning crew or tackle the task yourself, budget approximately $500 to $1000 for this crucial step in preparing your property for sale.


Statement of Adjustments

The statement of adjustments serves as the halftime scorecard in the home-selling game. It's a meticulously detailed breakdown of all the financial transactions associated with your sale. Your lawyer takes charge of preparing this document, and it's typically included within their overall fee. This is typically a mix of costs owed by the seller to the buyer, and costs owed by the buyer to the seller. Sometimes, this is a wash, sometimes it’s a net cost, and sometimes the sellers actually come out ahead. For example, if you’ve paid ahead on 6 months of property taxes for the new buyer, and there are no other adjustments, then they owe you half of the current year’s property tax.

Mortgage Prepayment Penalties

Finally, we encounter the somewhat sneaky mortgage prepayment penalties. Your lender may impose a penalty if you currently hold a fixed-rate mortgage and opt to pay it off before the agreed-upon term expires. The precise amount of this penalty is contingent upon the duration of your mortgage but can amount to several thousand dollars. Before making any early payments, it's prudent to consult with your lender and factor this additional cost into your financial calculations. The anticipated penalty may be a deciding factor on whether to sell now or wait until closer to your mortgage renewal.


Conclusion

Today we've looked at the intricacies of selling a house in our beautiful country. Beyond the final sale price, many factors come into play, including Realtor fees, legal fees, taxes, and other considerations. While these costs may appear daunting, selling your home is a significant and valuable life event. You can navigate the process smoothly and successfully with the proper knowledge and preparation.

Selling your home demands strategy, teamwork, and a dose of financial savvy. Whether upgrading to a larger home, downsizing or relocating to a new city, it's essential to approach the game with your eyes wide open and a well-thought-out financial game plan in hand. If you need help counting the costs talk to a knowledgeable Realtor. With the right approach and preparation, you'll celebrate your successful sale and move on to your next adventure.

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I am a Victoria-based local realtor with eXp Realty. My commitment to honesty, integrity, loyalty, and hard work have been essential pillars for me because they drive a high standard of excellent service for my clients. Helping you realize your dream is my goal!


I service Vancouver Island, but my focus is on Victoria, Sooke, Saanich, Malahat, Shawnigan Lake, Cobble Hill, Duncan, and the rest of the Cowichan Valley.



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