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Selling a House in 2018 Can Cost More than $18,000

Mar 27, 2018 4:35:42 PM

From basic home prep projects like staging or carpet cleaning to closing costs, U.S. homeowners spend thousands of dollars in hidden costs to sell a house

U.S. homeowners spend $18,342 on average to sell their home, according to Zillow® and Thumbtack's 2018 Hidden Costs of Selling analysisi.

Zillow and Thumbtack identified several common, but often overlooked, seller expenses and calculated what they would cost around the country. Since most (61 percent) of today's sellers have never sold a home before, many of these costs may come as a surpriseii.

Home sellers spend more time getting their home ready to sell than it will spend on the market, with the majority (78 percent) of sellers making at least one home improvementiii. Sellers who hire professional help spend $4,985 on average to cover many basic seller prep projects like painting, staging, carpet cleaning, lawn care and gardening and local moving costs. However, labor costs can vary significantly by metro. Sellers in San Jose, Calif. pay $6,580 on average, whereas sellers in Dallas pay an average of $3,720 for the same projects.

Home sellers are also responsible for agent commissions and transfer or sales taxes, which are two of the largest closing costs. Nationally, sellers spend $13,357 on average for both costs. However, since they are percentages of a home's sale price, sellers in pricey markets like San Jose pay much more – $74,927 on average for the median priced home, the highest of the metros analyzed. Sellers in Indianapolis pay the least ($8,604), as home values are lower and the state has no transfer tax.

Despite low inventory in many parts of the country, sellers still encounter massive pain points. From unexpected costs to determining the right list price, three out of four sellers say it was stressful or challenging to sell their home, according to the 2017 Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trend Report. Another 76 percent of sellers say they made at least one concession during the process, with reducing the list price as the most-cited compromise.

"Even in the hottest housing markets in the country, selling a home takes time and costs money," says 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. If you're planning to sell this year, try to take some time to research what costs you may be responsible for and how they could affect your profit or even budget for your next house."

"While there could be some initial sticker shock associated with the costs of selling a home, investing in home improvement projects like painting and home staging often proves to be very valuable in the long-run," said Lucas Puente, Thumbtack economist. "Homeowners starting to think about selling should take time to research and budget for the projects that can ultimately help sell their home faster and at a higher value."

Metro Area Median Home Value (ZHVI), Jan. 2018 Estimated Closing Costs

(commissions
and state transfer tax on
median home)

Basic Home Prep Costs

(carpet cleaning,
interior and
exterior painting,
lawn care,
gardening home
staging, home
cleaning and local
moving)

Total Hidden Costs of Selling
United States $ 209,100 $ 13,357 $ 4,985 $ 18,342
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA $ 640,600 $ 39,141 $ 5,110 $ 44,251
Chicago, IL $ 214,300 $ 13,179 $ 4,800 $ 17,979
Dallas-Fort Worth, TX $ 221,100 $ 13,266 $ 3,720 $ 16,986
Philadelphia, PA $ 225,000 $ 16,875 $ 4,440 $ 21,315
Houston, TX $ 186,900 $ 11,214 $ 4,690 $ 15,904
Washington, DC $ 387,500 $ 28,869 $ 3,960 $ 32,829
Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL $ 266,600 $ 17,862 $ 3,860 $ 21,722
Atlanta, GA $ 189,100 $ 11,535 $ 4,380 $ 15,915
Boston, MA $ 442,600 $ 28,574 $ 5,460 $ 34,034
San Francisco, CA $ 928,600 $ 56,737 $ 6,350 $ 63,087
Detroit, MI $ 145,000 $ 10,005 $ 4,350 $ 14,355
Riverside, CA $ 345,000 $ 21,080 $ 5,190 $ 26,270
Phoenix, AZ $ 247,900 $ 14,874 $ 4,940 $ 19,814
Seattle, WA $ 476,800 $ 37,095 $ 6,460 $ 43,555
Minneapolis-St Paul, MN $ 251,300 $ 15,907 $ 4,770 $ 20,677
San Diego, CA $ 575,100 $ 35,139 $ 5,240 $ 40,379
St. Louis, MO $ 152,000 $ 9,120 $ 3,890 $ 13,010
Tampa, FL $ 197,500 $ 13,233 $ 3,840 $ 17,073
Baltimore, MD $ 261,400 $ 16,991 $ 4,150 $ 21,141
Denver, CO $ 387,400 $ 23,283 $ 4,950 $ 28,233
Pittsburgh, PA $ 138,700 $ 10,403 $ 4,140 $ 14,543
Portland, OR $ 376,900 $ 22,614 $ 6,570 $ 29,184
Charlotte, NC $ 185,300 $ 11,489 $ 3,970 $ 15,459
Sacramento, CA $ 387,500 $ 23,676 $ 6,460 $ 30,136
San Antonio, TX $ 169,300 $ 10,158 $ 4,650 $ 14,808
Orlando, FL $ 217,600 $ 14,579 $ 3,820 $ 18,399
Cincinnati, OH $ 156,800 $ 10,035 $ 4,730 $ 14,765
Cleveland, OH $ 137,600 $ 8,806 $ 4,180 $ 12,986
Kansas City, MO $ 167,300 $ 10,038 $ 4,210 $ 14,248
Las Vegas, NV $ 251,400 $ 16,366 $ 4,520 $ 20,886
Columbus, OH $ 173,200 $ 11,085 $ 4,640 $ 15,725
Indianapolis, IN $ 143,400 $  8,604 $ 4,820 $ 13,424
San Jose, CA $ 1,226,300 $ 74,927 $ 6,580 $ 81,507
Austin, TX $ 281,500 $ 16,890 $ 4,560 $ 21,450

i Zillow and Thumbtack's 2018 Hidden Costs of Selling report factored in closing costs (transfer taxes and agent commotions) and several basic home prep costs. Zillow computed transfer taxes by using the tax rate for the primary state within each metro area (in cases where metro areas cross one or more state lines), which were then applied to the median home value for that area. Zillow also assumed 6 percent for real estate agent commissions and applied it to the median home value for each metro area. For the basic seller home prep costs, Thumbtack looked at tens of thousands of quotes from small business professionals around the country and determined the average cost for each expense within the selected metros. For the purposes of this analysis, carpet cleaning, interior and exterior painting, lawn care, gardening, home staging, house cleaning and local moving costs were identified as eight of the most popular seller prep projects completed by Thumbtack during the selling a home sale process.

ii According to the 2017 Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report. Sellers spend five months on average thinking about and prepping to sell their home before listing. The home then spends an average of three months listed on the market. The entire process takes just over eight months. Full stat here.

iii According to the 2017 Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report.

zillowZillow Research

Zillow is the leading real estate and rental marketplace dedicated to empowering consumers with data, inspiration and knowledge around the place they call home, and connecting them with the best local professionals who can help. In addition, Zillow operates an industry-leading economics and analytics bureau led by Zillow's Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. Dr. Gudell and her team of economists and data analysts produce extensive housing data and research covering more than 450 markets at Zillow Real Estate Research. Zillow also sponsors the quarterly Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey, which asks more than 100 leading economists, real estate experts and investment and market strategists to predict the path of the Zillow Home Value Index over the next five years. Launched in 2006, Zillow is owned and operated by Zillow Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:Z and ZG), and headquartered in Seattle.

Zillow is a registered trademark of Zillow, Inc.

About Thumbtack

Thumbtack is an app and a website that finds you local professionals for any project. It can instantly show you available businesses and how much they'll cost. Through Thumbtack, millions of customers are completing projects in nearly 1,000 categories across all 50 states. Founded in 2008 and headquartered in San Francisco, Thumbtack is backed by Sequoia Capital, Google Capital, Tiger Global Management, Javelin Investment Partners and Baillie Gifford.

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