Getting the house ready for sale
While it's a discretionary cost, renovating your property could increase its value.
This can range from a deep clean and a lick of fresh paint, to landscaping and major renovations of the kitchen or bathroom.
You don’t have to spend a fortune. Simple things like cleaning and decluttering cost very little but can make a big difference. Staying on top of basic maintenance and minor repairs, like mowing the lawn and replacing light switches that don't work, is also a good idea.
When preparing to sell a house, you might opt for professional styling (also known as home staging) to help boost your property's appeal to potential buyers. Professional home stagers hire out furniture and décor, which can enhance the look of your property while it's on the market.
Cost estimate: $100 to $20,000-plus
Once your property is sale-ready, you'll want to let buyers know. Your marketing may include:
- Professional photography
- Drone photos and footage
- Signage on the street front
- Writing a description for an advertisement
- Listing the property on real estate websites
- Creating a video of the property
- Creating flyers
- Print advertising
Usually, your real estate agent will recommend a marketing plan and work with you to agree on a strategy and a budget. The total cost will typically be between $1,000 and $4,000 – more expensive homes could have larger advertising budgets.
Cost estimate: $1,000 to $4,000
Real estate agent fees
There are three main types of real estate fees:
- A flat fee. This is a set fee that will be paid after the property sale, whatever the selling price.
- Commission. This is a percentage of the selling price. It usually ranges from 1.5% to 3.5% of the total price.
- Bonuses. These are optional extra incentives for agents, which you may agree to pay if the price reaches a certain mark. For example, the agent may get 10% of any amount above your $1 million reserve, so if they sell it for $1.1 million, there’s an extra $10,000 in it for them.
If you choose to sell by auction, there may be additional expenses of around $500 to $1,500 – these may be included in your quoted fees, or an extra cost on top.
Real estate fees and commissions can vary depending on where you live, which agency you choose, and the agent’s individual flexibility. Some agencies work on a flat fee, but it’s more common for the cost to increase as your sale price increases.
It’s a good idea to understand the fees clearly before you sign any contracts with your real estate agent. Some agents may have room to negotiate on their fees. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and shop around.
The full cost typically ranges between 1.5% and 3.5% of the sale price. The average is around 2.5%, so if you sell your home for $700,000 you may pay a total of $17,500 in fees and commissions.
Cost estimate: 1.5% to 3.5% of the property’s value
Conveyancing is transferring the property title from you (the seller) to the new owner. This is a legal process, so there are some legal fees that you may need to pay to the professionals who help you with this.
The conveyancer or solicitor you use for the sale can prepare legal documents for you to sign, and help you navigate any legal issues that arise. The cost will vary depending on where you live, the conveyancer’s fees, and whether anything complex crops up during the sale. Costs could range from $500 to $1800.
For more information about conveyancing, read Do you need a solicitor when selling a house?
Cost estimate: $500 to $1,800
Mortgage discharge fees and other lender costs
If you have a mortgage on the house you’re selling, there may be some costs to pay when the sale is finalised. You may need to pay a mortgage discharge fee (also known as a settlement fee) if you’re closing your home loan, which can apply to both fixed and variable home loans. If you're settling a fixed home loan before the fixed term is up, you may incur a break fee.
Lender fees can vary depending on the size of your loan, the fixed term, and the conditions of your loan. Mortgage discharge fees and break fees on a sale typically cost between $150 and $1,000.
If you are looking to upgrade/downgrade, selling your existing property and move to a new one, you may not need to discharge your loan and reapply. If you stick with your existing lender, you may be able to utilise the loan portability feature (or substitution of security).
This can allow you to keep your existing home loan balance, but ‘swap’ the security (the property securing the loan) from the one you've just sold to the new home, provided you have sufficient equity to continue securing the loan. Your loan is now secured by your new home, instead of the one you’ve just sold. You may be able to increase the size of your loan when you apply for portability.
This has several advantages:
- You don’t need to discharge one loan and reapply for a new one
- You may avoid break costs
- It can be faster than applying for a new loan
Cost estimate: $0 to $1,000
Capital gains tax
Capital gains tax, or CGT, is a tax you pay on the profits you make from selling an asset – in this case, a house.
If you are selling your home, and you are an Australian resident, you may not need to pay CGT on any money you make from the sale. It needs to meet these conditions:
- The house needs to have been your home the whole time you’ve owned it.
- The house must not have been used to generate an income (as a rental or for a business, for instance).
- The home must be on two acres or less of land.
If it meets these conditions, you may be eligible for the main residence exemption, which means you won’t need to pay CGT. Otherwise, you may be entitled to a partial exemption, or all the gains may be taxable. You can check using the ATO’s CGT property exemption tool, or talk to your accountant.
If you’re moving to another house nearby and have helpful friends, you may be able to save money on moving costs - perhaps just the cost of pizza and drinks for everyone, plus having to help them next time they’re moving house.
On the other hand, if you’re moving across states, it could be a logistical exercise with higher costs involved. You may need to hire a company to help you take care of, and keep track of, your belongings. This could start to get pricy, depending on how much you own and how far you’re moving.
Cost estimate: $200 to $5,000-plus
The cost of selling a house
Based on the numbers above, typical costs to sell a $700,000 home could be $22,000 or more, plus whatever you spend getting it ready for sale and additional moving costs. (Assuming: $2,500 for marketing; $17,500 for agent fees; $1,000 on conveyancing; and $1000 in lender fees.)
This is a very rough estimate. There are many variables to consider, so it can be a good idea to make your own budget for selling your house:
- Estimate your home’s likely value – you could use an online estimator or consult a professional valuer for more accuracy.
- Investigate real estate agent costs based on your estimated value.
- Ask agents about probable marketing costs.
- Budget costs to bring the house into a sale-ready condition.
- Talk to conveyancers about their fees.
- If you have a home loan, check with your lender on what your fees may be.
- Get quotes from removalist companies.
- Add it all up so you know how much money you’re likely to walk away with.
It can be a good idea to budget on the generous side, to give yourself some leeway in case problems arise.
Once you have your ‘walk away’ figure, this will give you an estimate of what you can spend on your next home.
We’re here to help – we can talk to you about moving your loan, refinancing, and what you might be able to borrow for your next house.