By Michele Lerner
If you’re monitoring the value of your home so you can sell it and reap a worthwhile profit, don’t forget to factor in the closing costs for sellers into the sale price.
You may be estimating that your sale price could be $350,000, which could pay off your $200,000 home loan and reap you a $150,000 profit. But before you start counting your dollars and debating the size of the down payment for your next home, you need to calculate the closing costs for the seller.
While buyers also pay closing costs (here’s more info on typical closing costs for buyers), you’ll see a long column on the HUD-1 Settlement Statement for seller closing costs.
Closing costs for sellers of real estate vary according to where you live, but as the seller you can expect to pay anywhere from 6% to 10% of the home’s sales price in closing costs at settlement. This won’t be cash out of the seller’s pocket; rather it will be deducted from the profit on your home—unless you are selling with very low equity on your mortgage. In this case, sellers may need to bring a little cash to the table to satisfy your lender—and some closing costs may be held in escrow.
1. Seller costs
One of the larger closing costs for sellers at settlement is the commission for the real estate agents involved in the real estate transaction.
Commissions on real estate are negotiable and vary somewhat by market, but a typical commission is 6% of the sales price of the home split between the listing real estate agent and the buyer’s agent.
For a $350,000 purchase price, the real estate agent’s commission would come to $21,000. Buyers have the advantage of relying on sellers to pay real estate agent commissions.
2. Loan payoff costs
Most home sellers often seek out a sales price for their home that will pay off their mortgage and satisfy their lenders.
Your mortgage payoff balance will often be a little higher than the remaining balance on your mortgage and even the buyer’s purchase price. This is because of lenders’ prorated interest on the mortgage.
In some cases, your lender may require you to pay a prepayment penalty for paying off your mortgage loan before the end of the term. If you have a home equity loan or line of credit, in addition to your mortgage, the lender will require this be paid in full at settlement as part of closing costs for the seller.
Be sure to talk to your lender about what will be required to pay off the mortgage so that you get an accurate picture of closing costs.
3. Transfer taxes or recording fees
Transfer taxes, recording fees, and property taxes are key parts of a seller’s closing costs.
Transfer taxes are the taxes imposed by your state or local government to transfer the title from the seller to the buyer. Transfer taxes are part of the closing costs for sellers.
Along with transfer taxes and transfer feeds, property taxes must also be up to date for sellers before they hand over keys to the buyer.
4. Title insurance fees
Title insurance fees are another fee to keep in mind when you sell real estate. As part of closing costs, sellers typically pay the buyer’s title insurance premium. Title insurance protects buyers and lenders in case there are problems with the title in a real estate deal.
5. Attorney fees
If you have your own attorney represent you at the settlement of your real estate sale, the seller may have to pay attorney fees as part of closing costs.
Market traditions vary, so while in some areas both the buyers and sellers have their own attorneys, in others it’s more common to have one settlement attorney for the real estate transaction. In some areas the buyer pays the attorney fees, while in others the seller pays.
Additional closing costs for sellers
Additional closing costs for sellers of real estate include liens or judgments against the property; unpaid homeowners association dues; prorated property taxes; escrow fees; and homeowners association dues included up to the settlement date. These closing costs for a home sale are separate from what buyers pay at closing.
Depending on the real estate contract, closing costs may also include termite inspection and remediation, if necessary; home warranty premium for buyers; and repair bills or a credit to buyers for repairs for items found during a home inspection.
Also, don’t forget to estimate some of the closing costs associated with preparing to sell, such as cosmetic repairs or improvements to make your home more attractive to buyers. Those closing costs may be returned with a higher sales price, but you should still include them in your calculations.