Definitive Guide:
The Cost of Selling a House

...& where to find value for money services

2018 update

Keep reading to discover…
  • Insider secrets from serial house sellers
  • The common (and not so common) costs you’ll encounter
  • How to budget accurately & calculate your ‘net’ profit
  • And lots more…

 



How much will it cost to sell your home?

The tables below detail the basic (& potential extra) costs you’ll have to pay for.

Basic Costs When Selling A House

Item:Cost:
EPC£35-£150+VAT
Estate agent fees0.5%-3%+VAT (of sale price)
Conveyancing fees£550-£1000 (inc.VAT)
Removal costs£250-£4,000+VAT

 

Potential Extra Costs When Selling A House

Item:Cost:
Preparing house for saleDependent on work needed
Mortgage exit fee (MEAF)£50-£300 typical
Early mortgage repayment charge1-5% loan amount is typical
Incentivessee notes below
Capital Gains Tax (CGT)see notes below
Home Report (Scotland)£100-£1,000+VAT

 

And here’s a total cost estimate for a fairly typical sale (£225k house / freehold / no mortgage / England & Wales):

Typical Total ‘Cost to Sell’ Estimate

Item:Cost:
EPC£85
Estate agent fees (1.18+VAT)£3,186
Conveyancing fees£650
Removal costs£700
TOTAL COST TO SELL:£4,621

Let’s now look closer at all the basic and potential extra costs one by one…

Energy performance certificates (EPC)

Cost range: £35-£150+VAT

  • This is a compulsory item for anyone selling a home.
  • You must order one before your property is placed on the market.
  • The EPC certificate contains information about how energy efficient your property is, the typical energy costs and recommendations on how to save money & reduce energy costs.
  • Only accredited assessors are able to access property and produce EPC certificates.
  • You can buy your EPC direct from providers found on the Internet, or your estate agent will be able to arrange one for you.
  • We always get ours through our selling agents because they tend to have good relations with the local energy assessors and can chase on our behalf if needed.
  • Typically we pay £75+VAT although online we’ve seen them as cheap as £35+VAT.
  • An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is valid for 10 years.
  • They are all stored digitally by the Government and accessed via the EPC Register website.

Estate agent fees for selling

Cost range: 0.75% – 2.5%+VAT (of final sale price)

  • Between 95-97% of all house sellers use traditional high street estate agents.
  • The majority of these agents charge a percentage based commission on a ‘no sale no fee’ basis – If you don’t sell, you don’t pay.
  • The average UK estate agency fee (for sole agency) is generally accepted to be around 1-1.5%+VAT.

This is inline with our own recent survey of just over 2000 house sellers which uncovered an average fee of 1.18%+VAT (1.42% inc.VAT).

  • All estate agents are obliged to ensure all fees and charges are quoted inclusive of VAT (as in the example above).
  • If you use more than one estate agent, expect to be quoted a higher fee (2%-3%+VAT is the industry norm for multi agency agreements).

Read: Estate Agent Fees: The definitive guide for savvy sellers

Online / Hybrid Estate Agents

  • Less than 5% of house sellers use these types of services.
  • Most charge a fixed fee paid upfront or by deferred credit agreement which means the fee is payable even if they don’t sell your property.
  • We estimate that leaves around 30,000 house sellers each year potentially having to pay twice – once to an online estate agent for not selling their home – then again to a high street estate agent to finish the job.
  • Potentially that’s £30,000,000 wasted by house sellers attempting to save on estate agency commission[1].
  • We believe national online & hybrid estate agency services put you at risk of underselling your home (i.e. losing out on £1,000’s by selling for less than you deserved to).

Read: Online vs. High street estate agents (original research)

Auction

There are potentially 2 fees to budget for when selling via auction:

  • £0-£3,000+VAT – Auction Entry Fee
  • 2%-3%+VAT – Commission on sale (no sale no fee)

Some auction houses claim to sell for 0% commission, but in reality they’re charging the buyer and as such, the buyer’s offer will take this fee into account…

…End result being you (the seller) still pays, albeit indirectly.

Conveyancing fees

Cost range: £550 – £1000 inc.VAT

  • Solicitors’ fees (like their quality of service) vary enormously.
  • Some charge a percentage of your homes value, some charge on a more secure fixed fee basis – personally I always use fixed fee conveyancing services.
  • Conveyancing costs when selling are generally cheaper then when buying.
  • The exact cost will depend on whether your property is freehold or leasehold & whether or not you have a mortgage.
  • If the property is leasehold and has a mortgage, there will be more work for your conveyancer and so expect to be charged a higher fee.

Average Conveyancing Fees When Selling

Property type:Cost:
freehold + no mortgage£575 inc.VAT
freehold + mortgage£612 inc.VAT
leasehold + no mortgage£768 inc.VAT
leashold + mortgage£805 inc.VAT

Learn more: The ultimate guide to conveyancing fees

  • If you are selling and buying at the same time, it’s usually cheaper (and more practical) to use the same conveyancer for both transactions.
  • You don’t need a solicitor or licensed conveyancer as it is possible to do it yourself (but not recommended).

Pro Tips

  1. Choosing the right solicitor is vital if you want your move to be as successful, speedy and stress-free as possible.
  2. You will jeopardise your sale if you choose your conveyance purely on price.
  3. Be very skeptical of any quote that comes in under £500 or over £1,000.
  4. Think twice before using a conveyancing firm recommended by a national online / hybrid estate agent – it’s a bit of a sweeping statement but never the less, these services are rapidly developing a poor reputation.
  5. For a similar reason, also avoid conveyancing recommendations from large corporate estate agency chains.

Removal costs

Cost range: £250 – £4000 +VAT

If you use a professional firm their charges will vary depending on:

  • The quantity of possessions you have to move?
  • Whether you do the actual boxing-up yourself?
  • How accessible your house is?
  • How far away your new home is?
  • Whether you will require storage for any period of time?

If you decide to take the DIY approach to moving, don’t forget the costs of:

  1. Hiring a van
  1. ‘Goods in transit’ insurance
  1. Fuel
  1. Suitable packing materials

This will be cheaper than using a removal firm but nowhere near as civilised!

Finally, make sure you’re on top of your household contents Insurance, for example, will your policy cover you for the move?

  • If it doesn’t, you may have to pay a premium of £20 – £30 to get the extra cover you need.
  • For a price, removal firms may offer to cover you with their own insurance policy.
  • It is usually not a great idea to take them up on their offer because many of these policies limit the amount of compensation you can claim.
  • If you do take their policy cover, make sure you see everything in writing and double-check the cover they provide is adequate.

Preparing your home for sale

Cost range: Dependent on work needed

Will you put your house on the market ‘as is’? Or will you spend a little money making it more presentable?

  • Unless unusable, kitchen and bathroom refurbishments are most likely a waste of time, energy and money.
  • However, without doubt, the majority of buyers are looking for a clean property with no obvious defects that‘s ready to move into.
  • Homes that fit that description are easier to sell, sell faster and sell for more money.

As a minimum, we recommend you:

#1. Clean your house thoroughly (£0 – £150)

  • It’s cheap, it’s satisfying and it makes a difference.

#2. Fix necessary repairs (£0 – £5,000)

  • Definitely take care of any minor DIY jobs.
  • Tackle more major stuff (like a damp problem) by either paying for the work yourself or offering a discount on your sale price.

#3. Redecorate (£50 – £2,000)

  • Fresh paint to walls, doors & window frames is worth considering if the property hasn’t been redecorated within the last 5 years.

For more detailed advice and tips on getting your home ready for sale:

Mortgage charges

There are two possible mortgage related charges to be aware of:

  • Mortgage exit fee
  • Early repayment charge

Mortgage Exit Fee

Cost range: £50 – £300

  • Also known as mortgage exit administration fees – MEAFs
  • This is your lender’s admin charge for closing the file on your mortgage. It is a charge made when your mortgage balance is cleared.
  • Not all lenders have this charge.
  • Check the fee being charged is the same as the fee set out in your original mortgage contract.
  • If your exit fees seem unfairly high visit the Financial Ombudsman Service to review the complaint procedure

Early Repayment Charge (ERC)

Cost range: 1% – 5% of loan amount.

  • If you intend paying off your mortgage early check with your lender to see if a redemption charge is payable.
  • This fee can be larger than expected & you may not have been made aware of all the exit fees when you initially signed up for your mortgage.
  • Details “should” be in your original mortgage offer.

Learn more: Mortgages when moving home (simple guide)

Incentives

Cost range: Dependent on incentive.

If you find yourself struggling to sell because you’re up against a number of similar properties, you can either drop your price or make your home more appealing by offering incentives (subject to the offer level).

Seller / Buyer Incentives

Pro Tip: We find incentives work best when tailored to the type of buyer you’re targeting.

For example, if you were targeting buy to let investors, then a good incentive would be to offer 3 months rental income paid.

Below are the seller / buyer incentives we’ve used to great effect over the last 12 months:

  • Free legals (£500 – £1000)
  • Stamp Duty Paid (dependent on the property value)
  • Furniture pack (£1000)
  • Removals paid (£250 – £4000)
  • 2-3 months rental income paid (dependent on market rate)
  • High street voucher (£500)

Estate Agent Incentives

Alternatively, if the market is slow and you need to make sure your estate agent is giving it everything they’ve got, you can incentivise them directly by offering them a ‘sweetener’.

Below are the estate agent incentives we’ve used to great effect over the last 12 months:

  • High Street voucher to the estate agency negotiator that effects a sale (£500 – £1500)
  • Sliding scale estate agency fee structure

Learn more: Estate Agent Fees: The definitive guide for savvy sellers

Taxes

Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

When you only own one home there is no CGT to pay when you sell it.

This is due to a tax relief called private residence relief.

However, if you own more than one property, the sale of any property other than your main residence will most likely be subject to Capital Gains Tax.

  • Current tax rules allow you to hold on to the old home for 18 months before Capital Gains Tax liability kicks in.
  • This ‘grace period’ used to be 3 years but reduced to 18 months in April 2014.
  • Your CGT liability will be based on the amount the property has increased in value during your time of ownership.
  • You can deduct the cost of any improvement work you’ve carried out and also the transactional costs of buying & selling the property (SDLT, solicitor fees, Estate Agent fees etc.).
  • Speak to an accountant before you commit to selling an additional property to fully calculate your potential CGT liability and explore how best to minimise your liability.

Useful links

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

House sellers are not liable for SDLT – it’s the buyer that pays.

More: Everything you need to know about SDLT

Home report (Scotland)

Cost range: £100 – £1000+VAT

  • We buy and sell a lot in Scotland so we’ve bought a lot of Home Reports over the years.
  • On average we pay around £325-£500 inc. VAT depending on the size of the property.
  • We almost always use DM Hall because they’re good value for money and reliable.
  • See: Home report policy page – Gov.scot

How to calculate profit when selling a house?

Finally, let’s cover something most house sellers will want to know…

How much they pocket from their sale a.k.a. their profit.

To work this out you need three figures:

  1. You sale price (A)
  1. Your mortgage balance (B)
  1. The total cost of selling (C)

Then it’s a matter of simple arithmetic:

Gross Profit = A – (B+C)

So here’s a quick basic example when selling a £100k property with a £30k mortgage to redeem:

Gross Profit From Selling Your House

Item:Cost:
EPC£85
Estate agent fees (1.18+VAT)£3,186
Conveyancing fees£650
Removal costs£700
TOTAL COST TO SELL (C) :£4,621
Sale Price (A):£100,000
Less Mortgage Balance (B):£30,000
Less Cost of Selling (C):£4,621
GROSS PROFIT (A-(B+C)):£65,379

Finally, to work out your ‘net’ profit, you would then deduct your initial deposit amount from when you purchased the property (and potentially all other associated purchasing costs if you want to go super nerdy).

3 key takeaways

  1. It’s easy to underestimate the costs involved (especially if you’ve not done it before).
  2. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being “penny-wise but pound-foolish” in an attempt to cut costs.
  3. Savvy sellers focus on paying a fair fee for services that will help them get the best sale price – that’s how you pocket the most profit from a sale.

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Gavin Brazg

Gavin Brazg

MSc Dip Arch

Founder & CEO

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