How Much Does It Cost to Sell a House?

Wondering how much it costs to sell a house? I got you, fam, because that is a thing I-slash-we totally just did.

That’s right – if you get my Saturday ramblings weekly newsletter, you already know this, but The Boyfriend and I successfully sold his townhouse! (I know, you were as worried as I was that we bought a new place before selling his place, but it worked out! Don’t do that, ideally, but it was fine this time!)

I’m not kidding when I say getting a house ready to sell, especially in a short amount of time, is one of the most stressful things I’ve done in my adult life.

It’s right up there with having to move out of said staged, clean house to avoid getting dog all over the nicely staged house, and literally just sitting around hoping it sells.

It also was not cheap.

The big thing everyone talks about when they’re selling a house is the cost of using a realtor, or even of paying to list your house yourself on MLS. But here’s the thing: Yes, that’s a huge cost, and it can make a big difference in terms of your net takeaway from the sale.

But it’s not an out of pocket expense, really.

At the end of the day, the expenses you’re going to feel personally victimized by are the ones you pay for as you go, and the ones that come out of your monthly budget.

And no one talks about them!

So, because I’m nothing if not willing to be awkwardly open about money with you guys, here’s exactly what we spent getting The Boyfriend’s townhouse ready to list.

(For scale, since it changes some of these numbers, we were listing a three-bedroom, two-point-five-bathroom townhome.)

Paint and Paint Supplies – $216.85

If I never see another paint brush again, it’ll be too soon.

This seems like a reasonable number, but it probably represents about five full cans of (the cheap) paint that went towards refreshing two full bathrooms, one full bedroom, alllll the baseboards, and several much-needed touch-ups throughout the house.

If you really want to feel fancy, try turning down the upsell to the “good” paint because you just don’t care. For added impact, have paint in your hair while you do it.

It’s a good look.

Carpet Cleaning – $295.35

If you hadn’t heard (lol) we have a dog, and he’s pretty spectacular.

At grossing up our carpets, that is.

We knew we had to get our carpets professionally cleaned, since back in the fall, I tried steam cleaning our carpets as an amateur and let’s be real, I got amateur results.

When the carpet guys got here, even they, as professional carpet guys, were a little impressed at how much gross dog stuff they got out of our carpets. It turns out, there’s a reason their carpet-cleaning truck has a lab on the side of it.

Our lovable dog is one of the oiliest breeds of dog out there.

Fun fact, and in unrelated news, my dream is now to never have carpet again in my life ever.

Three Toilets and a Sink – $604.62

We knew that our powder room was in need of a facelift, and that all three of the toilets in the house were… let’s say, particular.

Not in the way that my first apartment’s toilet was downright temperamental, but still, they had their issues. Small issues, sure, but also not really “I want to buy this house ASAP!” material.

So one morning, we went to Rona and picked up three of the cheapest toilets we could find. While we were there, we checked out the deals they had on pedestal sinks. There was one that was perfect for the powder room revamp, and by perfect, I mean perfectly passable.

We asked about it, and it turns out, they were entirely out of stock. So, on a whim, we asked if they’d take down the floor model for us… And not only were they entirely on board, they knocked off an additional $50.

Buying fixtures for selling a house is an excellent lesson in how to find deals, by the way.

You just need to not care, and everything becomes way cheaper. (This is something I am flagging as a life lesson for the new house.)

Lighting – $70.00

We knew we were selling a townhouse, which in its centre is not exactly a bastion of natural light. So on one of our trips to The Generic Home Store (they will all blend together at some point in the process, I guarantee you) The Boyfriend picked up a plethora of bright white LED bulbs to help jazz the house up.

We went with the nice ones, that are all fancy and daylight-y. You can’t look at them without burning your eyes out of your skull, but dang if they don’t make the place look bright and airy when you’re looking anywhere else.

Lawyer’s Fees – $1115.00 (estimated)

We haven’t paid this one yet, since – as I learned – all the lawyerly stuff takes place much closer to the closing date. We’ve got a really long closing, which hidden perk, gives us plenty of time to gird our loins for closing costs like lawyer’s fees.

That figure is what we were quoted for the legal stuff to sell our home, so it’s what we’re planning on having ready by then.

Restaurants – $300 (estimated)

You know what goes really well with the stress of staging a house?

A burger, and fries, and a beer at the pub. (Stay tuned for my follow up article about getting into shape on a budget. I’m not joking.)

We did pretty well at not eating out for every single meal, but we were definitely more likely than usual to opt for a “let’s not cook, let’s just go out” approach. It was quite a shock to our budgets and our systems, because unless it’s a get together with friends, we rarely do anything other than salad-and-some-meat at home for dinner.

Or like, oven baked sweet potato fries if we’re really feeling fancy.

So while I am never going to be on team avocado-toast-is-why-you-have-no-money, I will say that yeah, I finally get that eating out at restaurants a lot will really put a dent into your budget.

And your waistline *weeps quietly*.

Keg Heater – $51.94

K, I don’t know what to tell you, it was winter in Ottawa and we needed to move the keg freezer into the garage but not have it explode. Hence, keg heater.

I guess you can ignore this since it’s “not typical” of a regular staging process. Unless you also happen to live with a home brewer who made his own keg climate control system in the basement?

Literally Priceless: Family Help

I can’t even write this post without the biggest, most unbelievably appreciative shout-out to the parents who helped us through the process.

Between the meals that were provided and saved us from spending even more on takeout (it was a lot of takeout, I’ll be real) and the unreal amount of free expertise, labour and borrowed equipment, this total would have been thousands more without our amazing parents.

I’m not exaggerating, either. Literally thousands.

So if you’re selling a house, and you’ve got people in your life who are willing to lend you tools, or bake you a casserole, or show you how to paint a straight line without totally ruining your wall?

Take them up on it. It’ll be the best financial decision you could make in the whole process.

All in, it cost us about $2653.76 to sell a house

This list is by no means extensive, by the way, and our total could have been much higher in a lot of ways. We could have hired stagers, bought new furniture, hung new artwork, or about a zillion other things to up the marketability of our house.

Luckily, we didn’t have to – but if you’re reading this, make sure that you don’t consider it the be-all, end-all of house-selling costs!

There are a lot more you might run into, and there’s an excellent possibility you’ll never, in your life, need to buy a keg heater. Plus, as I mentioned, this doesn’t include the cost of using a realtor – which honestly, regardless of the cost, was worth it for the sanity-saving benefits alone.

Did I mention selling a house is hella stressful? And we had it easy.

What were some costs that you didn’t anticipate when selling a house? (And if you’re not selling, just buying, you know I’ll have a recap of that much more costly endeavour coming up once we’re into our new place!)