How much does it cost to sell a house in Washington, D.C.?

By 

Kristen Klempert

Updated 

January 15th, 2021

SHARE

Selling a house in Washington, D.C. can be expensive. Between repairs, realtor commissions, closing costs, moving, and more, your total expenses can easily eat up 10% or more of your home’s final sale price.

In this guide, we’ll cover some of the most common expenses for Washington, D.C. home sellers. We’ll also offer up some tips and tricks that will help you save on home selling costs without sacrificing your final sale price!

What’s Clever? We’re a free resource dedicated to helping you make smart decisions and save money when you sell your home. In fact, our free service helps home sellers save an average of $9,000 — check us out here.

Average cost to sell a house in Washington, D.C.

If you sell your home for $645,000 (the average home value in Washington, D.C.), you could end up paying upwards of $110,000 to make it happen.

While your actual out-of-pocket total will vary based on your situation, expect to pay 10% or more of your home’s final sale price — that is, if you opt to do a standard listing with a traditional, full-service realtor.

» LEARN: about alternative, low-cost home selling options

The chart below breaks down some of the most common expenses for home sellers in Washington, D.C., helping identify the most (and least) costly aspects of the home selling process.

Common expenses for home sellers in Washington, D.C.
Typical % of sale price
Estimated cost*
Preparing your home for sale
2-3%
$13,000 to $19,000
Realtor commission fees
5-6%
$32,000 to $39,000
Buyer incentives
1-3%
$6,000 to $19,000
Closing costs
1-3%
$6,000 to $19,000
Relocation expenses
1-2%
$6,000 to $13,000
Total
10-17%
$65,000 to $110,000
*Based on a $645,000 home — a typical home value in Washington, D.C., (Zillow Research data, October 2020)

Keep in mind these costs are highly variable — particularly the home prep and relocation expenses categories. Talk to your realtor for a more accurate and tailored estimate of your costs versus final sale price.

Home sale calculator: How much will I make selling my Washington, D.C. house?

How much you walk away with at the end of your sale will depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • How you choose to go about selling your home (e.g., realtor, cash buyer, for sale by owner, etc.)
  • Which repairs, improvements, and listing preparations you choose to invest in
  • Whether you make any concessions or offer incentives to buyers
  • State and/or regional closing and tax-related expenses

Below is a quick overview of how these costs could break down for a $645,000 home (the average home value in Washington, D.C.), accounting for some variation in a few of the factors mentioned at the beginning of this section.

Type of expense
Estimated cost*
% of home value
Staging
$6,000
1%
Improvements and renovations
$19,000
3%
Realtor commission
$35,000
5.5%
Seller concessions
$10,000
1.5%
Closing costs
$16,000
2.5%
Relocation
$13,000
2%
Total
$100,000
15.5%
Total Proceeds
$545,000
84.5%
*Based on a $645,000 home — a typical home value in Washington, D.C., (Zillow Research data, October 2020)

Quick Tip: Ask an agent to prepare a net sheet — here’s how to get one for free

A net sheet is an itemized outline of the costs you’ll likely incur selling your home — and how much you can expect to walk away with after closing. 

Enter your info below to set up a no-obligation consultation with a top-rated agent near you. They’ll prepare a net sheet and a comparative market analysis (CMA) for free, which will give you a more accurate estimate of your expenses and net profits on your sale.

If you owned 100% of your home, you’d be left with approximately $545,000 after closing; however, most people will have some of their mortgage left to pay off.

Ideally, your proceeds will cover your remaining balance, but if that balance doesn’t include prorated interest — or your loan has a prepayment penalty for paying it off early — they may not be enough. In cases like these, you may have to write your lender a check.

Be sure to talk to your lender and look into the terms of your original loan before you sell your home to avoid any nasty surprises.

Home selling costs: an in-depth breakdown

Preparing your home for sale: 2-3%

Common pre-listing expenses
Typical % of sale price
Estimated cost*
Home Improvements/Cleaning
Variable — expect min. of ~1%
~$6,000
Landscaping
~1% of sale price
~$6,000
Staging
~0.3% of sale price
~$1,940
Total
2-3% 
$13,000 to $19,000
 *Based on a $645,000 home — a typical home value in Washington, D.C., (Zillow Research data, October 2020)

Unless you’re planning to sell your Washington, D.C. house “as-is” or to a cash buyer, you’ll need to spend some money to get your home market-ready to attract qualified buyers.

These costs will vary considerably depending on factors like:

  • The age and condition of your home
  • Your home’s size and layout
  • The level of demand or competition for homes in your neighborhood
  • Your yard’s size and layout
  • Which repairs/improvements your realtor thinks matter most to local buyers

At minimum, you’ll want to invest in some basic pre-listing improvements — e.g., interior repainting; carpet cleaning/replacement; professional cleaning service; a handyman to make minor repairs; etc. Refer to the table below for rough cost estimates for a few of the most common pre-listing expenses.

Type of expense
Average project cost (national)*
Home staging
$1,251
Cleaning service
$168
Carpet cleaning
$177
Handyman
$386
Interior repaint
$1,813
Landscaping (installing)
$3,316
*National averages from HomeAdvisor’s TrueCost Guide 2020

If you’re considering any bigger projects, it’s best to discuss with your realtor before pulling the trigger. Unless you fully understand the cost versus resale value of each project you take on, you could easily end up in the red.

For example, it’s well-known that kitchens are top considerations for most home buyers. According to Remodeling’s 2020 Cost vs Value Report, in Washington, D.C., a minor kitchen remodel costs $22,125 on average, but the resale value is only $16,884 — meaning you only stand to recoup about 76% of your initial investment. Depending on your situation, it may make more sense to leave your kitchen as it is and let the buyer handle the updating, if they feel so inclined.

The Ultimate Home Seller’s Guide

Learn how to sell your home for top dollar!


What you’ll learn...

  • How to get your home ready for sale
  • Top-tier marketing strategies
  • Tips to sell lightning fast
  • The true cost of selling (and how to save!)

We hate spam as much as you! We’ll only send you relevant information about home selling and buying.

Realtor commission fees in Washington, D.C.: 5-6%

Breakdown of realtor commission fees in Washington, D.C.
Typical % of sale price
Estimated cost*
Listing fee
2.5-3%
$16,000 to $19,000
Buyer’s agent fee
2.5-3%
$16,000 to $19,000
Total
5-6% 
$32,000 to $39,000
*Based on a $645,000 home — a typical home value in Washington, D.C., (Zillow Research data, October 2020)

In a standard real estate transaction — one involving traditional, full-service listing and buyer’s agents — you (the seller) will likely be on the hook for the full commission fee. The average real estate commission in Washington, D.C. is between 5-6% of the home’s final selling price and is typically split between the two agents handling the sale.

Based on the median home value in Washington, D.C., that comes to roughly $35,000 — potentially more than half of your total home selling expenses!

Never pay a commission over 5%. No matter where you live.

Yes, the average total real estate commission nationwide is between 5 and 6%. But we'd never recommend paying full commission. Clever can connect you with local top-rated, full-service realtors across the country who offer lower commission rates — as low as 3.5% total commission. 

How? We bring them more business with zero upfront costs on their end — like marketing themselves meet new customers, which is up to 70% of their expenses — then they pass part of that savings along to you. Try Clever for yourself. It's free!

Negotiations and buyer incentives: ~1-3%

Common buyer incentives
Typical % of sale price
Estimated cost*
Seller concessions
~1.5-2%
$10,000 to $13,000
Paying for buyer’s home warranty
<1%
$300 to $600
Total
1.5-3%
$10,000 to $19,000 
*Based on a $645,000 home — a typical home value in Washington, D.C., (Zillow Research data, October 2020)

Once you’ve listed your Washington, D.C. home and accepted an offer, it’s time to start negotiating. Depending on your property and demand in your area, you may choose to offer incentives or make concessions to keep the buyer motivated and ensure the deal goes through.

When a seller makes a concession, that means they’ve agreed to pay specific costs — e.g., help with inspection fees, certain closing costs, repair credits, etc. — on the buyer’s behalf to sweeten the deal. It’s worth noting that buyers will likely have limits on how much they can request based on their loan type. On average, seller concessions range between 1.5-2%, but some loan types allow for up to 9%.

Another commonly offered (but totally optional) incentive is paying for a buyer’s home warranty. Unlike homeowner’s insurance, these policies cover repair or replacement if a major appliance or home system (electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc.) breaks within the first 1-2 years following the sale. Home warranties typically cost between $300 and $600.

Closing costs: ~1-3%

Common closing costs for sellers in Washington, D.C.
Typical % of sale price
Estimated cost*
Title insurance
~0.5%
$3,230
Loan payoff (and early payoff fee, if applicable)
Variable
Variable
Outstanding bills, taxes, fees
Variable
Variable
Transfer taxes (learn more)
1.1-1.45%
$7,095-9,353
Recording fee
0.725-1.45%
$4,676-9,352
Attorney fee (required in Washington, D.C.)
<1%
$150 to $500
Total
~1-3%
~$6,000 to $19,000
*Based on a $645,000 home — a typical home value in Washington, D.C., (Zillow Research data, October 2020)

Closing costs are a blanket term for the various fees and expenses (not including realtor commission) paid by both parties at the close of a real estate transaction.

While the buyers will typically be responsible for the lion’s share, sellers should expect to pay between 1-3% of the home’s final sale price at closing. Based on the average home value in Washington, D.C. of $645,000, that roughly translates to $6,000 to $19,000.

The above list represents common closing costs that are typically the seller’s responsibility; however, in a real estate transaction, the question of “who pays what” is up for negotiation and will depend on the circumstances of the sale. Talk to your realtor at the outset to get a sense of how much you should expect to pay come closing time.

» READ: the in-depth guide to closing costs here!

Moving expenses: ~1-2%

Common moving expenses
Typical cost* — local move
Typical cost* — long-distance move (over 1,000 miles)
Packing supplies
$500-630
$500 to $630
Moving
$1,250
$4,890
Overlap and carrying costs
Variable (~1%)
Variable (~1%)
Total
$1,750+
$5,390+
*2-3 bedroom move of approximately 7,500 lbs (Moving.com, 2020)

Many people forget to factor in moving costs when calculating their home sale profits. But depending on factors like the distance of your move, the extent of your DIY ethos, and how much stuff you have, these expenses can really add up.

Moreover, don’t forget to account for potential overlap periods. If there’s a gap between when you move out of your current home and close on your new one, you may need to pay for a storage space and/or temporary housing. Or you may have to pay carrying costs (e.g., utilities, HOA fees, property taxes, etc.) on two properties at once in the reverse scenario.

Quick Tip: Get Clever Cash Back to help cover your moving costs

If you're planning to buy another home, you could qualify for 0.5% of the purchase price to offset the cost of moving.

Clever sends buyers in qualifying states a check after closing on a house over $150,000.

Get in touch to find out if you qualify for Clever Cash Back — and how much you could get back.

3 tips to maximize profits on the sale of your Washington, D.C. home

1. Time your sale to get top dollar for your Washington, D.C. home

Choosing the right time to put your home on the market is a strategy that must be considered. A local real estate agent will know when your specific market sees the most competitive buyers. Data from Zillow shows the best time to list in Washington D.C. is between April 1 to April 15.

During this timeframe, sellers typically receive an average of $3,800 more per sale and sell six days faster than other times of the year.

>> LEARN when is the best time to sell a house in Washington, D.C.?

2. Negotiate like a pro

As a seller, you will be presented offers and will likely counter with terms more favorable to your interests. The cost of a property is only one factor that buyers weigh when determining their best and final.

In many cases, a home buyer will ask the seller to help cover the closing fees, lower their offer to cover repairs, and ask for extras like a home warranty. Before negotiations, you should already have a “bottom line” in mind based on the amount of profit you need from a sale. You can satisfy a buyer by countering with conditions that speak to their best interests, without costing you a fortune.

Understanding the current market temperature, data from a CMA, and the interest your property is attracting is key. An efficient negotiator will work with a buyer’s agent to ensure your counter is aggressive and the results end in your favor.

3. List with a low-commission real estate agent

Realtor commission fees are a huge expense for Washington, D.C. home sellers, often making up 50% or more of their total home selling costs. In other words, finding a way to save on commission is one of the best ways to increase your profit margins.

You can negotiate commission rates on your own, but the easiest option by far is to find a low-commission real estate agent through Clever. These are full-service, local realtors who usually charge full commission, but we send them a high volume of new business in exchange for pre-negotiated, discounted rates.

The result? You could save up to 33% on realtor fees, leaving thousands of dollars in your pocket after closing.

» LEARN: about Clever's free service and read reviews from real home sellers!

Cost-saving home selling options in Washington, D.C.

Additional resources for Washington, D.C. home sellers