Selling is not free
Someone recently shared an experience they had while traveling in India. Their tour group came upon a toll booth, not unlike ones in this country, only this toll booth accommodated more than just vehicles, it accommodated elephants. What does this have to do with selling your home? Only that it emphasizes that all creatures have to pay the toll, the buyer the seller and the elephants.
If you're one of the fortunate ones and you're sitting on top of a mountain of equity, don't think that you'll end up with all of it when your property closes. Just like buyers, sellers are subject to fees and expenses they frequently don't think about when they're on top of that mountain.
The largest expense for sellers who have listed and sold their property with the help of a realtor is, of course, the commission. Realtor commissions are negotiable and generally run between 5 and 6 percent in our area. When you consider that properties on Anna Maria Island are almost at an all-time high this can be a big chunk; 6 percent of even a $500,000 sale is $30,000.
Then there's repairs, show me a property and I'll show you 10 things in 10 minutes that should be taken care of. These could be minor inexpensive fixes like painting and repairing bathroom leaks or it could be requiring a new roof or electrical update which has been put off.
A sure way to know exactly what a buyer's home inspector is going to get you on is to hire your own inspector before listing the property, I promise you this is money well spent. Not only will this give you a heads up on what your home really needs instead of spending money on insignificant items. It is also something you can provide to a potential buyer to show your confidence in the property and what repairs may have been made.
Not everyone has an eye for decorating or even an objective eye to clutter in our own homes, but buyers can get distracted by funky decorating and especially by clutter. This is where a staging professional can make a difference, especially in more upscale properties. A 2015 National Association of Realtors' study reported that the median cost for staging was $675, again money well spent, particularly at the luxury home level.
If you have a mortgage on the property, the payoff will likely be more than what is on your monthly statement. Prorated interest is calculated at the time of payoff, as well as any prepayment penalties you may be responsible for.
Finally, there is a long list of closing costs and fees that the seller may be responsible for or may assume responsibility for during the negotiating process. Homeowner association fees are prorated sometimes in the seller's favor depending on closing date, same for property taxes. However, the seller's attorney fees and transfer taxes are generally the cost of the seller, but the seller will probably get some of their homeowner's insurance and/or flood insurance premium refunded.
Title insurance can be paid by either the buyer or seller, and sometimes buyers will ask the seller to absorb some of the points or additional interest costs on their mortgage. Again, all of this is negotiable and is usually worked out during that process, but be aware that everything is on the table.
Real estate creatures may not be as large as elephants, and, for the most part, are better behaved, but the elephants may have the edge on remembering the cost of doing business. Get your elephants in a row before sitting down at that closing table and avoid the elephant size toll.