Published on March 29, 2018

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Photography by Brittany Ambridge

If you’re thinking about putting a home up for sale, you probably want to know how much money you’ll make off it once it eventually sells. Of course, this is to be expected: As homeowners, we put a lot of thought into the return on our investments, and sometimes, we’re just dreaming of that upgrade from starter home to dream home.

But if you’re about to put your home on the market, you might want to take a look at your bank account first. According to a study done by Zillow and task service company Thumbtack, US homeowners spend $18,342 on average to sell their home. That’s right: Before you up and leave your current situation, you’ll likely have to shell out quite a bit.

Surprised? You’re not the only one. Zillow’s report states that 61 percent of today’s sellers have never sold a home before, so many of these hefty costs come as a shock.

Still confused? Let us break it down for you: The number above comes from a compilation of data that looked at the average amount sellers spent on a variety of costs for their home. These consist of a multitude of things, including pre-inspections, cleaning and painting services, agent fees, sales taxes, and more. And depending on the cost of living in your area, the prices for some of the same projects could vary greatly. That’s why Thumbtack’s economist Lucas Puente advises, “Homeowners starting to think about selling should take time to research and budget for the projects that can ultimately help sell their home faster, and at a higher value.”

And when it comes to value, there are certain design features that may be worth the splurge—for example, quartz countertops, white cabinets, and bay windows are more popularly used as selling points. In addition, Aaron Terrazas, Zillow’s senior economist, tells Domino that paint color can either attract or deter buyers. “Zillow found that homes with blue bathrooms, often found in hues of powder blue or light periwinkle, sold for $5,440 more than expected. However, homes with darker, more style-specific walls like terracotta dining rooms sold for $2,031 less than expected.”

So, if you’re in the process of putting your home on the market, you’ll want to be strategic about how you approach each project. While putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls may seem like an easy task to tackle yourself, Peunte says to keep in mind that buyers have a keen eye.

“Sellers can definitely take on some of the projects themselves—for example, renting their own carpet cleaning device or touching up their walls,” he says. “However, the margin of error involved with seemingly minor projects is very slim, since prospective buyers will notice even the smallest details when evaluating potential homes to buy, and will ultimately use that information when making offers,” he says. That’s where a service like Thumbtack comes in, so you can hire local professionals for virtually any project or task.

The most important thing to keep in mind when calculating costs for selling—beyond the more obvious expenses like real estate agent fees—is that you want your home to show well. Terrazas points out that most buyers today shop for homes online, thus making your home’s web appeal just as important as its curb appeal. “Featuring high-quality, staged listing photos and videos is a great way to boost your home’s virtual appeal, and help it stand out in today’s competitive marketplace,” he says.

But you won’t only need to budget your money when it comes to selling—you’ll have to do the same with your time, too. Zillow projects that sellers spend an average of five months prepping their homes before listing them, and that most homes spend an average of three months on the market. So, expect about eight months for the entire process.

That’s not to say that selling your home isn’t worth the time and money, though: Once it’s sold, you have access to your assets, and can have more money to budget a down payment for that dream home you’ve always wanted.

See more real estate news:

This Is the Cheapest State for Millennials to Buy Homes
Millennials Account for More Than 1/3 of All Homebuyers
Avoid These Major Real Estate Regrets Before Buying Your Next Home 

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