Are you thinking about selling your house? You’re not alone. The pandemic is causing many Canadians to revaluate their living situation and sell their home – for a variety of reasons: 

  • More space. Is your home becoming a tight fit for your family? Staying at home has given us a desire to move to bigger homes with bigger yards. 
  • New location. Are you working from home and thinking of moving out of the city? With an increase in remote work, many families are rethinking where they need to live. Since commuting may no longer be a daily reality, living closer to work may be less of a factor than it once was.
  • Multi-generational needs. Are you looking for a home to make space for your elderly parents or in-laws? This too is becoming more common due to long-term care facilities being in the news. 

Pandemic or not, you may be selling your house for the first time, or the first time in a long time. Whatever the case, you can prepare for the costs involved in selling your house. This is especially important if you’re using the money from the sale to buy another house. Here are some expenses to prepare for.

How much can I expect to pay in realtor fees? 

As a seller, expect to pay realtor fees anywhere between 3% and 7% of the price of your house. These fees depend on where you live and what you negotiate with your realtor. A 4% real estate commission on a house that sells for $500,000 will set you back $20,000. 

In a hot market, you may be able to avoid this fee by selling your own house. But it’s still wise to hire an appraiser (starting at around $400) to put a value on your house. You’ll also need a real estate lawyer to draw up the paperwork. 

You may also consider a low-cost or flat-fee realtor. This is an option mid-way between a full-service realtor and selling on your own. A flat-rate realtor charges a fixed, predetermined fee regardless of the final sale price. But means you have to do more work on your own, than you would with a realtor. 

How much will you pay in legal fees when selling your house?

When it comes to legal fees, it’s a good idea to budget for at least $1,500. It could be more if your deal is complex.

How much does home staging cost? 

What will it take to make your house appeal to potential buyers? If you were selling 30 years ago, tidying up and painting would probably have been enough. Today, if you look at real estate listings, you’ll see that sellers do a lot more. Painting, yes, but also moving out most of your furniture and even renting art. The cost for staging your house can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars. The cost will depend on how much fixing up your place needs. You may be able to save by doing the staging yourself. But prepare to potentially pay for things like storage space. Some real estate agents provide staging as part of their services.

The idea of staging your home during a pandemic may be daunting. Especially when so many of us are working and learning from home. But, home staging doesn’t have to be extreme. Sometimes all it takes is a few touches to make your house ready for the market. At the very least, it’s best if you:

How much is land transfer tax? 

If you’re buying a new house, land or property transfer tax can be a significant expense. The tax is a percentage of the purchase price of your house. Land transfer tax varies by city and province, ranging from .1% to 2.1% of the total property value. 

How much does it cost to move? 

Your moving bill will depend on where you’re headed and how much stuff you have to move. But you’ll likely need to factor in at least a few hundred dollars for moving expenses. That is, of course, unless you have your own truck and friends who will work for pizza and beer. However, hiring a professional, insured mover can help give you peace of mind that your stuff is in good hands. 

Whatever option you choose for moving, you’ll want to make sure you’re following the COVID protocols in your area.

Do you need mortgage insurance? 

Are you taking on a bigger mortgage? Make sure your mortgage protection insurance (life insurance and critical illness insurance) will cover your additional needs. 

And be sure to update your homeowner's insurance policy. If your new home is bigger than your old one, expect your home insurance premiums to increase.

Need help saving for a new house? Need help with insurance?

Do you need help saving to buy a new house? Or maybe you need help to understand your mortgage protection options? Whatever the case, a Sun Life Financial advisor can: 

  • explain your options, 
  • answer your questions, and
  • help you build a plan that meets your needs and goals.

Most advisors now offer virtual services and provide consultations by phone or video chat. Find an advisor today.

This article is meant to only provide general information. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada does not provide legal, accounting, taxation, or other professional advice. Please seek advice from a qualified professional, including a thorough examination of your specific legal, accounting and tax situation.