Living Smart: The hidden costs of selling a home

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Before you put your house on the market, your real estate agent will likely provide you with a seller net sheet, which outlines all the fees you’ll owe as part of the transaction and estimates of closing costs and commissions. In total these typically amount to about 10 percent of the sale price of the home.

Fees vary from state to state, but read on for a general overview of costs to expect during the home selling process.

—Realtor commission

Any real estate agent who represents you for a transaction is entitled to commissions under state law. The seller’s agent splits the commission with the buyer’s agent.

Cost: 5-7% of home's sale price

—Mortgage balance

Before you sell your house, you need to pay off the mortgage. Any remaining balance gets deducted from the sale price.

"There’s also a recording service fee for recording the satisfaction of the mortgage, which is usually about $75," says Jen Geisinger, a Realtor with Luke Team Real Estate in Maple Grove, Minnesota.

Find out if your loan has a prepayment penalty, and factor that in to your costs.

Cost: Varies

—Courier fee

This fee might apply if you need a courier to deliver the loan payoff to each lender.

Cost: $25-$100

—Property taxes

The seller is responsible for paying off any outstanding property taxes owed on the property.

In most states, property owners pay these in arrears, or for the previous year. Sellers also pay for any estimated prorated taxes. For example, if the sale closes on June 15, the seller will have to pay an estimated tax amount for use of the property from January 1 to June 15.

Cost: Varies

—Transaction fee or brokerage fee

If your agent isn't a broker, he or she works through a broker’s office, which can charge a fee at closing for processing the transaction and keeping all documents related to the sale on file for at least seven years for tax audit purposes, says Melissa Adams, a Realtor with Re/Max Advance Realty in Miami. The agent must disclose this fee upfront, which is negotiable in some cases.

Cost: $200-$500

—Deed and recording fees

The title company contracts attorneys to write a deed, the legal document that transfers a title to a piece of property. The county then records this document with county property records to formalize the transfer. Sellers pay for both of these fees, which can range from around $100 to $250 or more.

Cost: Varies by state

—Deed transfer tax

Charges vary from municipality to municipality, but in general, property transfer taxes can range from nothing to $10 per $1,000 of the sales price, or you may be assessed a flat fee.

Cost: Varies

—Escrow and closing fee

The title company may charge a fee as part of the escrow process, which involves holding the buyer’s money and the seller’s signed deed until each party has done all necessary steps to complete the transaction at closing.

"It depends on the closing company, but the seller typically pays for it," Geisinger says.

Cost: $350+

—Estoppel letter

If your property or condo unit has a homeowners association, the seller also has to pay for an estoppel letter, the association’s official accounting of any dues the property owner has outstanding.

Cost: $150+

—Seller contributions

To entice a buyer into entering a contract in a competitive buyers’ market, a seller can offer to pay for all or a portion of the buyer’s closing costs. While not necessary, it could help seal a deal.

Cost: Varies

—Repairs and upgrades

A buyer can ask the seller to pay for all or part of the home inspector’s repairs after getting a home inspection report as a contingency for purchasing the home.

Cost: Varies