The True Cost of Selling A House In The Bay Area
Updated: Jan 24, 2021
Selling your house in the San Francisco Bay Area is probably one of the most expensive things you'll ever do.
After you take into account:
Buyer requested repairs
And so much more we'll discuss
You'll realize you won't be walking away with as big a check as you thought.
Let's jump right into what the true costs are for selling your house in the Bay Area.
For the sake of simplicity, we will consider a house being sold for $500,000 in Alameda County to do our calculations.
The single most expensive line item when selling your house in the Bay Area are those pricey realtor commissions.
Realtor commissions can be as high as 6%, with 3% going to the seller's agent, and the other 3% going to the buyer's agent.
On a $500,000 sale, that 6% adds up to a total of $30,000.
See what I mean when I said selling your house is one of the single most expensive things you can do?
We're still only on the first item of this list!
Running Total: $30,000
Staging costs are often forgotten, but staging a house before listing it can help your sale tremendously.
Sellers have a few different options when it comes to staging. They can either:
Stage the house themselves.
Hire a staging consultant to give them a plan to follow.
Hire a full-service home staging professional.
We'll go with the cost of a full-service home staging professional for our example.
According to SFGate, professional home staging can cost between 1% to 2% of the listing price.
That‘s $5,000 to $10,000 for our $500,000 home example.
Running Total: $35,000 - $40,000
Repair, Remodel, And Maintenance Costs
Depending on your target buyer, you may have to pay a ton of money to repair, remodel, and maintain your property during the listing period.
Your target buyer can be one of two classes of people:
An owner-occupant who will buy and live in the property. Owner-occupants will be picky and will more than likely ask you to do expensive repairs before closing.
A professional home buyer (investor) like Contenza Properties who will buy the property in its as-is condition as an investment.
When your target buyer is an owner-occupant, if your house is out of date, it may benefit you to do some minor updates, such as fresh coats of paint, to help your listing stand out.
When an investor like Contenza buys your house, you do not have to worry about performing any repairs or remodeling work to the property since we buy houses as-is.
When we sold our first house, the buyers requested $7,000 worth of work be done before closing. So, we'll go with $7,000 here for our example.
Running Total: $42,000 - $47,000
Accumulated Property Taxes
If your property taxes are $5,000 a year, and you sell your house 6 months into the year, you're still responsible for 6 months worth of property taxes.
In Alameda County, the average effective property tax is .87% of the assessed property value.
Typically assessed values and market values are not the same.
Here's a screenshot and link to a house in Hayward that sold for $500,000.
You can see the assessed value is only $287,010, which is a little more than half of what it sold for.
According to Zillow, it's estimated taxes per year are $3,668, so we'll use this number for our example.
You'd still be on the hook for approximately $1,843 worth of property taxes if you sold your house mid-year. We'll round up to $2,000 to keep our numbers simple.
Running Total: $44,000 - $49,000
Repayment of an Existing Loan(s)
Repayment of any existing mortgage loans should go without saying, but we'll list it here anyway.
We won't calculate it into our final "Cost of selling a home" since it's not an additional charge.
The first thing to get paid off when selling your house is your mortgage.
In other words, when you sell your house for $500,000 but still owe $450,000, your loan gets paid back first, then you receive the difference minus any fees.
Any Property Liens
Are there any liens on the property? If so, these liens must be paid off in full before the house can sell.
Liens include, but are not limited to:
Mechanics Lien - Filed by contractors/laborers if you fail to pay them for the work they completed on your property.
Property Tax Lien - Can be filed if you do not pay your property taxes to the city and/or county.
Judgment Liens - Filed when an unsecured debt, such as credit card debt, is not paid back.
IRS Lien - Can be filed when IRS taxes are not paid.
Child Support Lien - Can be filed when child support payments are not made.
The good news is these liens can be cured by paying the debt, the bad news is they can be costly and can make it tricky to sell a property with one attached to it.
It's best to avoid having a lien put on your property altogether, but hey, sometimes life throws us a curveball!
Liens can vary significantly in terms of cost, and more often than not, most people don't have to worry about them. For that reason, we will not include them in our final calculation.
Bay Area County And City Transfer Taxes
We'll use Alameda County transfer taxes as an example.
Real estate county-level transfer taxes are standard across Alameda county at $1.10 per $1,000 of the sales price. However, each city can charge its own amount of transfer tax, and it can get pretty high!
For example, the city of Hayward will charge you $8.50 per thousand of the total sales price on top of the Alameda County $1.10 per thousand. That's a total of $9.60 transfer tax per thousand dollars.
Considering our $500,000 house example, you'd wind up paying $4,800 in transfer taxes.
View the transfer tax rate for every city in Alameda county here
View the transfer tax rate for every city in Contra Costa county here
Transfer taxes can typically be negotiated and split between buyer and seller.
Running Total: $48,800 - $53,800