Written by: Olivia Forgette
As a homeowner, profit and money regarding your property are certainly top of mind, especially if you’re considering selling. Knowing how much equity you have in your home does not necessarily equate to how much cash you will be leaving the closing table with. This is because of closing costs and fees associated with selling real estate. Keep reading to learn more about common fees to expect when you sell your house.
To break down all the seemingly hidden fees (they’re not actually hidden, but they can seem confusing!) during your property sale, we’ve spoken with Elizabeth Dalton, Attorney at Law with Struck Law Group, LLC. Dalton is a seasoned pro when it comes to real estate law in the state of Illinois. She graciously shared her insights with us so you can know what to expect when it’s your turn to make your real estate transaction official.
Thinking about making a real estate move? Contact real estate professional Maureen Forgette to get you under contract fast and into your next dream home.
How much of the sale goes to fees?
We’re sure the burning question on your mind is, “How much of my home sale will go to fees?” The answer can differ depending on your situation. Dalton states, “I reviewed the last five transactions where I represented the seller, and the fees in each transaction range from 7.5-to-11-percent of the total purchase price.”
Dalton further explained that the percentage varies based on multiple factors including:
- Paying off any current mortgage
- Paying any loans secured by the property
- If the fee is based on a percentage of the total purchase price, or a flat fee
Other factors that can affect your total amount in fees include variables such as costs associated with preparing your home to list and moving fees.
Know your worth
If this is feeling overwhelming to you, don’t fret. We encourage you to lean into the professional knowledge of your real estate agent and attorney during your big transaction. A good starting place before you’re ready to list to better anticipate your potential fees is to know the value of your property.
You can use a third party website to help give you a general value. For an accurate home value, request a Certified Market Analysis (CMA) from your real estate agent, Maureen Forgette. Knowing your worth will allow you to better estimate the costs we are about to breakdown for you.
Closing costs breakdown
It can be tempting to skip the real estate agent and try your luck at for sale by owner (FSBO), but that may not be financially in your best interest. According to the National Association of Realtors 2022 data, agent-assisted sellers sold their homes for significantly more than with a FSBO seller. This tells us that paying the closing cost associated with agent commission often will end up saving you money in the long run! Reach out to your real estate professional, Maureen Forgette, for specific costs.
Dalton states that your title company will work with you and the seller’s attorney to perform a title search on your property. The title company will also provide title insurance to the buyer and lender, and act as escrowee at closing.
In simpler terms, the point of title fees is to provide an insurance policy that offers protection to both the buyer and the lender. This is important in the event that there are costly title issues that arise after the home is purchased. Dalton kindly broke down the typical way these fees are divided:
- The seller pays for the title insurance policy which is based on the purchase price of the home
- The buyer will pay for the lender’s insurance policy which is typically a flat fee ranging from around $500-to-$650 (this varies depending on the policy)
- The escrow or closing fee is typically paid by the buyer if purchasing with a loan, or is split between the buyer and seller if the purchase is a cash deal
- Plus, there are additional title fees associated with wire transfers, recording public records, and obtaining transfer stamps
As an example from her recent experience, Dalton states that in homes ranging from $135,000-to-$445,000, the title fee total was somewhere between $2,200-and-$3,500.
State and county transfer taxes:
The state of Illinois charges a transfer tax which is based on the total purchase price of the home. This tax is 0.1-percent of the total purchase price. Each county charges a different tax rate, however it’s common in Northern Illinois for the county to charge around 0.05-percent of the total purchase price. These fees are collected at the title company and then paid to the state and county.
Municipal transfer stamps:
Dalton states that some municipalities in Illinois charge what is known as a transfer stamp fee. Each municipality has their own value for this fee meaning it can vary. If you want to know what municipal transfer stamp fee you potentially will have to pay, we recommend speaking to your attorney for more details on the specific area.
When you sell your property, you likely will need to pay to have a survey completed of your home. The survey fee varies based on the company hired, but it typically ranges from $375-to-$700. The fee also varies based on the size of the property. Expect if you have a lot of land to pay more. If you are selling a condominium you will not need a survey in Illinois.
Closing costs, repairs, and home warranties:
Dalton states that sellers and buyers can negotiate for repairs to be made to the property, or for a credit to be given to the buyer in lieu of the repairs. The seller may also be asked to pay for a home warranty which typically costs between $500-and-$800. The credits and repairs can vary widely depending on the property condition.
Once your home is under contract, your attorney will help negotiate any changes needed. They also will order and oversee necessary documents, and work with the title company to ensure you have no title issues. Plus, your attorney will draft closing paperwork, facilitate the closing, and ensure you as the seller do not forget any important paperwork. Attorney fees can vary but are generally $300-to-$700. Struck Law Group charges a flat $450 fee.
Property tax credit:
This is typically one of the largest closing costs to the seller in Illinois, and another common fee to expect when selling your house. Property tax credit is a credit given to the buyer from the seller for taxes that have accrued during the seller’s ownership which have not yet been paid. Illinois collects property taxes essentially a year behind.
For example, if you sell your home in March 2023, you will owe a credit to your buyer for the entire year of taxes in 2022, plus the taxes for January, 2023 through March, 2023. This value obviously will vary depending on how much you are charged for property taxes.
A few other potential fees to be aware of (these may or may not apply to you):
- Well and septic inspections and repairs (if applicable to your property) which usually run about $350 not including potential necessary repairs
- Homeowner association (HOA) fees which are typically around $375 (again this can vary depending on your specific HOA)
- Home staging fees typically are one-to-four-percent of the total home value
- Cleaning and decluttering fees can run about $1,000 if you require a dumpster rental and professional cleaning services
- Paint and minor repairs should be expected to cost around $2,000
Seller capital gains
Dalton explains that capital gain is the net profit a seller makes from selling their property. As an ultra-simplified example, if you sell your house for $300,000 when you still owe $100,000 on your mortgage, your capital gain would be roughly $200,000 (minus other costs and fees from the sale).
Capital gains are taxed and the rate varies depending on what tax bracket you are in. It can be as low as zero-percent, and as high as 20-percent. On average, Dalton states it’s around 15-percent for most sellers.
Generally speaking, as a seller you can exclude some capital gains if:
- It is your primary residence for two of the last five years
- Your home has not been rented or claimed as a business expense
- You have not sold or exchanged a different primary residence in the last two years
As an individual, you can exclude up to $250,000 in capital gains, and as a married couple you can exclude up to $500,000 according to Dalton.
Be smart & save
Dalton offers some insights on how you can save as a seller on closing cost fees. Although many offer little to no wiggle room, there are areas you can try and save some money!
- You can request a buyer accept an older survey (if you have one that is still accurate)
- Negotiate repairs and credits, the tax proration credit, and home warranty to help save money
- Before you accept an offer, be sure you understand the contract and terms
- Be on the lookout for “as is” offers which means you won’t have to make any repairs
“Most importantly, work with a trusted realtor when you decide to list your property to determine a purchase price that will help maximize your proceeds,” says Dalton.