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What's the cost of selling a house?

From real estate agent fees and conveyancing, to lender fees - if you’re an Australian homeowner, here are the selling costs and fees you need to budget for.

Whether you’ve outgrown your current home, looking to downsize, or planning to sell an investment property, there could be many reasons to sell a house. And while you might be aiming to make a profit, like most real estate transactions, selling property can be a complex affair and involve various costs and fees that you should be prepared for. 

 

The costs of selling real estate in Australia differ at both a local and state level. Here’s a moving house checklist which may help you. Average commissions and costs vary depending on which state you are in, and tend to be higher in the major capital cities like Sydney and Melbourne. Some costs are voluntary, while some others are non-negotiable, which you will need to budget for when you’re thinking about selling your property. 

 

In general, the main selling costs attached to real estate sales in Australia can be categorised into three buckets: the agent’s fee or commission, conveyancing fees and marketing costs. Here we look at them in a bit more detail. 

 

Real estate agent fees

When it comes to selling your property, it’s a good idea to work with a real estate agent who can represent you and get you the best possible sale price for your home. This might require you to ‘shop around’ to make sure you find the right agent - not just the cheapest option, but someone who is professional, experienced and can make the sale process smooth for you, as well as help you sell at the best price. 

 

There are two ways in which a real estate agent charges for their service. The first is a flat fee where the agent and vendor or seller (which is you) agree on a fixed fee that stays the same no matter what the property sells for. The second option is a real estate agent commission that can range from 1 per cent to 3 per cent of the sale price of the home. Commission rates depend on a number of things like the property value and if there was a strong competition between agents to take on the job. 

 

There is also a bonus structure that real estate agents use - if the property sells at a higher price than the agreed reserve, then the agent can receive an agreed percentage of the difference between the reserve price and the price it actually sold at. This incentivises agents to push for a higher sale price. 

 

Although real estate agents can be costly, they can help you to get the best final sale price for your home. Auctioneers also have a big role to play in selling your home as they can hammer home the value to potential buyers. Remember to always discuss all fees with the agent before signing.

 

Marketing costs

This is a cost that can vary quite a bit. But marketing is important, as it’s how you can get your property in front of potential buyers. Each real estate listing is unique, with real estate agents opting to use different marketing campaigns to highlight the value of the home to potential buyers. The marketing campaign can include everything from signage such as boards out the front of the residence to listing on a home sales website like realestate.com.au or domain.com.au

 

Marketing costs also include professional photography and the option of home styling or staging, which can help increase the valuation of your home. Home staging is when a professional comes in and styles the interiors of your home to help make it look as attractive as possible - after all, the objective is to present the property in the best possible light to potential buyers.

 

While this is not a mandatory cost, it can help make the sale more profitable. Even if you don’t invest in professional home staging, it’s important to make sure your house is looking spic and span, as first impressions are everything. Clear out clutter, tidy up the garden, and make sure the kitchen and bathrooms are sparkling clean - all this can go a long way in improving how your property is perceived. 

 

Conveyancing fees

In every real estate sale, conveyancing fees are an essential cost. Basically, these are legal fees paid for the transfer of ownership of a property from one person to another. 

 

There are various legal documents that need to be prepared and processes that need to be carried out, so it’s important to get a licensed conveyancer or solicitor to manage this. You’re likely to need a conveyancer when buying property too. Just remember, you should only use licensed, accredited conveyancers. Conveyancing fees can generally set you back between $800 and $2000. 

 

Lender fees 

If you have a mortgage on your current home, you might need to pay lender fees in the form of either mortgage discharge fees or early exit fees (sometimes associated with fixed term loans), as well as settlement fees. Depending on which lender you are with, these charges can vary, so it’s a good idea to get an understanding of what they are before you list your property on the market. 

 

You could save on some of these costs however, by sticking with your current lender. You don’t necessarily have to exit your current mortgage just because you’re selling a property - many home loans have the option of taking your loan with you when you move, a feature known as loan portability or substitution of security. 

 

Loan portability is generally quicker than applying for a new loan, and lets you transfer your existing loan to your new property. It also helps you avoid some of the upfront costs involved with exiting a home loan and applying for a new one. If you choose this feature with a Westpac home loan, you’ll be bringing across your current balance and interest, which is then secured against your new home.

 

And if you’ve found your new home but haven’t sold your old one yet, bridging loans could be another option. This is a short term loan (usually up to 12 months) that sees you through the period between selling your old home and getting into a new home. With this loan, you have the option to make repayments only on your existing loan, and once you’ve sold your current home, you’ll need to pay off the interest on your bridging loan. The size of your bridging loan is determined by the amount of equity you have in your current home and your borrowing capacity - which can be worked out with this home equity calculator

 

Additional costs 

There are a few other miscellaneous costs you’ll have to keep in mind, which can range from the minor such as a deep cleaning of the property, inside and out, to more significant costs like repairs and renovations. 

 

While it’s a discretionary cost, renovating can help with increasing the home’s value, and can be cosmetic - like a fresh coat of paint - or a major kitchen or bathroom upgrade. It's also important to fix things around the house that may be in need of repairs, such as broken light fittings or rusty gutters. Here are a few more tips for selling your property.

 

What the overall cost of selling up a property ends up being will depend on various things, from the condition of the house, to factors like location and market conditions, although some of the fixed costs will remain. It’s good to be prepared for them, and be smart about ways in which you could save on some of these costs. 

 

To explore ways you could manage your home loan and finances when it comes to selling your property, check out our home loan options, call us on 131 900, or visit a branch to talk to your local Home Finance Manager.

 

Things you should know

This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness of the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice. Credit provided Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL and Australian credit licence 233714.