How Much Does It Really Cost To Sell Your Home

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Selling a home implies much more than just determining the asking price, cleaning it, and putting up a sign in the front yard. Budgeting is a vital part of the process since there are several costs you need to plan for. Knowing exactly what these expenses are (and ways to minimize them) will make a complex and emotional transaction like selling your home smoother. This is especially important if you want to sell your house ASAP to start hunting for homes for sale in Toronto, Vancouver, or other exciting locations in Canada. This article will discuss how much it really costs to sell your home and provide some saving tricks for home sellers. Let’s get right to the list!

Real Estate Agent Commission

The real estate commission is a fee the seller pays to the real estate agents involved in the home selling process. This is the highest cost of the whole transaction for most sellers and can ascend to several thousands of dollars depending on the location and the seller’s negotiation skills.
In Canada, the seller usually negotiates and pays the commission for both the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent, but the amount can also be shared.

Even though there’s no standard rate, you can expect to pay from 3% to 7% of the home price in agent’s fees. Also, since real estate sales are considered a service, the commission is subject to The Goods and Services Tax (GST) or Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).
Let’s calculate a commission to understand this fully. We’re using Toronto as an example:

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) reported that the average sale price in Toronto was $1,163,323 in November 2021. If calculated as a fixed percentage of the sale price, a 5% commission, the typical rate in Ontario (split in 2.5% per agent) on a $1,163,323 home is $58,166. Adding the additional 13% of the HST, the total is $65,727.

The fixed percentage of the sale price is the most frequent type of commission, but there’s also the split percentage, the flat fee, the fee for service, and several combinations of them. The commission may or may not be split between the following participant parts:

  • The seller’s agent (or Listing Agent)
  • The seller’s agent’s brokerage
  • The buyer’s agent
  • The buyer’s agent’s brokerage

Legal Fees

From drafting the sales contract to representing your interests at the closing and managing the funds, a lawyer is important for the transaction to run lawfully and effortlessly. You can expect to pay around $1,500 in legal fees to sell a home in Canada. Let’s see what the fee is being paid toward:

  • Title Search – A title search is a procedure through public records to verify the legal ownership of a property and determine what claims or liens may be on it. This is something you cannot do on your own.
  • Letter Of Direction – Simply put, a Letter of Direction is a letter the lawyer writes on behalf of the seller that will serve as guidance to the buyer. Commonly this is used to authorize the usage of the earnings from the sale to pay off any outstanding finance and property tax obligations in order to deliver a clear title to the property to the buyer at closing.
  • Statement Of Adjustments – This document lists the buyer and seller’s debits and credits, similar to a monthly bank statement. The lawyer manages this statement to know what the buyer owes the seller on closing day.
  • Closing Date Fund Transfer – Your lawyer will get the required cash from the buyer’s lawyer on closing day. The lawyer will then submit the Land Titles papers for registration and ensure that you receive the cash credited to your account.

Pre-Listing Home Inspection

A pre-listing home inspection allows sellers to address problems with the home before they become apparent or incorporate the cost of those issues into the asking price. This is important because the buyer can also conduct inspections on the property, and usually, whoever has the most knowledge nearly always wins the negotiation. Pre-listing home inspections can cost $400-$600 in cities like Toronto.

Home Preparation

The condition of your property has a significant impact on how much money you will get for it when you put it up for sale. When it comes to selling a home, the condition is just as critical as the location and amenities. Homes that are well-kept, attractive, and in good working order sell for more than houses in less desirable situations. Here are some basic steps of preparing your house for sale:

Deep Cleaning

A clean environment builds buyer confidence in the property and its condition. A professional cleaning will save you time and effort, not money, though. Do some research on cleaning services in your neighbourhood and how much they’ll cost, so you can include that in your budget.
In Canada, cleaning companies typically charge per hour or square footage, so plan to know how much area you’ll need to be cleaned. On average, homeowners can expect to spend between $200 – $350.


A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for your home in terms of marketing. Experts frequently advise choosing a neutral colour palette so prospective homeowners can easily picture themselves living in the property.

The cost of repainting a home in Canada varies from province to province, but expect to pay between $2.25 – $4 CAD + HST per square foot for exterior house painting. For a 1,500-2,500 sq ft. home, the price starts at $3,000 – $7,000 CAD + HST. Costs for interior painting can be higher depending on the specific room, if you want to paint only the walls, or if you’ll include ceilings, floors, and closets.

Repairs & Renovations

Getting your home in sell-ready condition probably means spending some money on repairs. The costs depend on the age and size of your house, the labour required, the complexity of the renovation itself, how fast you need the work done, material quality, additional fees (like permits), etc. Take things slowly when it comes to home repairs. Some renovations and improvements are required, but not all of them will improve the value of your property or help it sell faster. Here are some estimates on repairs:

  • Kitchen renovations cost about $30,944 or $195 per square foot.
  • The average bathroom renovation costs approximately $13,393.
  • The average flooring price is $3,836.
  • Homeowners estimate spending between $1,809 and $6,901 for individual landscaping projects.

Home Staging

Home staging is a must if you want to put your home’s best foot forward and convince the potential buyer that your property is worth every penny on the asking price tag. According to The Real Estate Staging Association (RESA), in Canada, the price for professionally staging an empty condo for sale starts at $1,250 and goes up to $10,000+ for a luxury house.

Saving Tip: If you want to keep costs low, you can do it yourself with the help of your agent. Here are some tips you might find helpful:

  • Remove all family photos and personal belongings (including artwork) so homebuyers can picture themselves in the spaces.
  • Keep decor plain (and hotel-chic) and make sure everything is in good condition.
  • Visible linens should be brand new.
  • Keep clutter at bay. Everything should be spotless, kitchen and bathroom especially.
  • The smell is key. Baking cookies or spraying a soft, pleasant scent before showing the home shows you care about the small details.
  • Lightning is also essential. Whether you use natural light or spatial staging/design lightning, the key is always to highlight the best features to make the home more sellable.
  • Off-Site Storage Unit
  • During the home-staging process, you might need to store items to reduce clutter and highlight the property’s attractiveness and size. Remove worn-out objects or store valuable and personal belongings off-site in a storage unit. The monthly rental cost of a basic 10’x10′ (the size of a one-car garage) indoor self-storage unit in Ontario ranges from $210 to $300.

Moving Costs

Packing up all of your things, transporting them to your new home, and getting situated can be exciting but is also stressful and tiring. Hiring a moving service can ease the burden, but you’ll need to be financially prepared. The cost of moving out from home in Canada depends on the property’s size, distance, if you are packing your items yourself or not, etc. The average moving cost for a 3-bedroom home ranges between $735 – $1,300 based on average hourly rates by local companies, truck rental costs, and professional movers’ hourly rate charges.

Potential Mortgage Penalties

If you have a mortgage on your home and plan to sell it during the mortgage term, your lender may charge you a penalty. Traditional lenders, such as banks, typically allow you to apply the remaining mortgage amount to a new property’s mortgage. However, some mortgages have conditions. How much you pay will depend on the type of mortgage. The penalties for a variable rate mortgage will be the equivalent of three months’ worth of payments, plus a $200-$600 discharge fee, depending on the lender. Penalties can be higher for a fixed-rate mortgage so contact your lender in advance to get more information.

Closing Adjustments

As explained in the Legal Fees section, the state of adjustments that the lawyer prepares is discussed on closing day. If you haven’t made all the necessary payments for home-related expenses such as property taxes and utilities before the closing date, you may have to settle up until then. You would be due a refund if you paid out any of these expenditures in advance.

How Much Does It Really Cost To Sell Your Home?

Whether you want to downsize or expand, have outgrown your area, or are searching for a new beginning, selling your home is an exciting and challenging task, but it does not have to be stressful. Interestingly, these items are pretty much identical whether your selling your home in Canada or the US. Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the costs you’ll have to afford and how the process works so you can be prepared ahead of time and have an advantageous home-selling experience.