The cost of selling a house in California varies by city but typically ranges from between 6.7% to 7.7% or more of a home’s sale price.
California is the second most expensive state to sell a home in the country due mainly to its high home values. It costs sellers at least $51,561 to sell a home priced at $718,687 (the average California home price), trailing only Hawaii.
That fee includes the biggest costs of selling a house: Realtor commission (4.91% of the sale price) and closing costs (0.8%).
Thankfully, you can save thousands on your home sale by using an agent matching service like Clever Real Estate. Clever has negotiated a reduced listing commission of 1.5% – far lower than the California average of 2.50%.
Here’s a complete breakdown of the costs of selling a house in The Golden State, including more tips on how to save on your sale.
How much does it cost to sell a house in California?
|Fee type||Average fee||Average cost|
|Other costs||1% - 2%||$7,905 – $15,810|
|Total costs||6.7% - 7.7%||$51,561 – $59,466|
*Costs assume a sale price of $790,475.
On a percentage basis, California is one of the lowest-cost states to sell a home. However, sky-high home values make the total average cost among the highest in the country.
In the above table, you’ll see that it costs close to $60,000 on the high end to sell a home valued at $718,687.
Of course, California home values vary quite a bit across the state, so closing costs will also vary.
Here’s an example of your potential costs at various price points, including realtor fees and seller closing costs, using the state averages.
|Sale price||Realtor fees (4.91%)||Closing costs (0.8%)||Total cost|
Keep in mind that these figures vary widely by market. For a more accurate estimate, we recommend finding a realtor to help you calculate your potential home sale costs.
Factors that may impact your California home sale costs include:
- Typical realtor fees in your city. While the state-wide average rate is 4.91%, rates may be higher or lower depending on what’s normal in your area.
- Your success in negotiating rates. Realtor fees are not fixed – they are completely negotiable. You may be able to negotiate a rate lower than what’s typical in your area.
- How you find a realtor. You can potentially save thousands in realtor fees by using an agent-matching service like Clever Real Estate to find a realtor. Clever has pre-negotiated a lower rate with listing agents in its network.
- If you need to pay optional costs. Expenses like home staging, deep cleaning, and pre-listing repairs could add thousands more to your home sale costs.
- Your negotiated contract. In some California markets, it’s common for home buyers to request sellers to pay for part or all of their closing costs.
Here’s a deeper look at your expected home sale costs.
1. California real estate commission (4.91%)
Using a realtor costs California home sellers an average of 4.91% of the home’s sale price, covering both the seller’s and buyer’s agent commission.
Your actual cost depends on your home’s value, as it costs much less to sell a $300,000 home compared to a $1 million home, for example. Get a free CMA from an agent to learn what your home might sell for in today’s market.
|Sale price||Commmission cost|
Commission is the single largest home-selling expense in California, and also the biggest place to cut your costs.
How to save on California realtor fees
Here are some tips on how to save on commission in California.
Use a discount broker
A discount real estate broker is a company that offers sellers a reduced commission fee. The broker’s listing agents charge less than the average rate, such as a 1% listing fee vs. the typical 2.5%-3% rate.
Selling at a higher price point leads to even bigger commission savings using a discount broker vs. finding a realtor through traditional sources, like through a personal referral.
For example, Clever offers listing fees of just 1.5%, compared to the average California listing commission rate of 2.50% That could save you $7,500 on a $500,000 home sale.
Agents from these firms still provide all of the services you’d expect to receive from a traditional realtor, too. The service is free to try with no obligation, so it’s worth starting out here.
List your home without a realtor
You can avoid paying California listing commission entirely by selling without a realtor. That’d save you 2.50% off of your home sale.
However, studies show that homes sold without a realtor sell for up to 26% less than agent-listed homes, and you’ll be on the hook for all of the tasks normally handled by a real estate professional.
Selling FSBO is hard, time-consuming, and risky. We highly recommend consulting with a local attorney, realtor, or broker for more guidance before making a decision.
Negotiate a lower rate
You can absolutely try to negotiate a lower commission rate with an agent in California. There’s no law setting a fixed realtor fee in the state or any part of the country.
If you decide to go this route, your best bet is to shop around and meet with multiple agents.
Negotiating commission is more likely to work on a high-value property, since the agent will still earn a substantial commission on the home sale, despite the lower rate.
2. Closing costs for for sellers in California (0.8%)
Seller closing costs typically add another cost of 0.8% or more to the home’s final sale price, according to our data.
Based on the average California home value of $718,687, the typical home seller pays $4,844 in closing costs.
Here’s a list of the possible closing costs facing California home sellers.
The average cost of owner’s title insurance in California is $1,338, costing slightly more than the national average of $1,071.
Actual costs depend on your location, the insurance provider, and the price of your home.
Title insurance protects you against any legal claims made against your home or possible mistakes on your deed. It also usually covers the cost of legal fees when defending a claim.
The cost of title insurance may or may not be covered by the buyer, or split between both parties, depending on your county (view a city-by-city breakdown here).
California realtor Jose Roberto Samano highly recommends buyers or sellers purchase owner’s title insurance.
“Transfer of deed without title insurance is risky,” says Samano. “Whenever you insure the transfer of ownership, you’re insuring it’s legit and not out of place.”
State transfer taxes
State transfer taxes are charged by the government to transfer your home’s title documents from your name to the buyer’s name at closing.
California’s state transfer taxes cost an average of 0.11% of the home’s final sale price, resulting in a total average cost of $791, according to our data. This is lower than the national average cost of $1,467.
California transfer tax rate is currently $.55 per $500 in home value (or $1.10 per $1,000). So a home that sells for $500,000 would face a transfer tax of $550.
California charges average recording fees of $244, higher than the national average of $0.
Your county charges recording fees to register the property’s transfer of ownership. The fee amount varies by county.
Title search or service fee
The attorneys handling your closing may charge you this fee to examine the public records and transfer title ownership to the buyer.
Typical title search costs range from $250 to $800, depending on your type of property and location, according to Sexton Group Real Estate of Berkeley, CA.
Attorney fees (optional)
California is one state where sellers are not required to use an attorney to handle the closing.
Attorneys are responsible for reviewing all of your contracts and legal documents, and protect you from potential issues that may arise during your sale.
Samano says that hiring a real estate attorney is optional, and probably not necessary.
“Escrow and title handle everything the attorney would handle – from the disbursement of funds to reviewing the contract and other important documents,” Samano.
Real estate attorneys charge an average of $220 to $250 per hour, according to Thumbtack. However, that figure is based on the national average, and fees vary widely by location.
» LEARN: Do I Need a Lawyer to Sell My House?
Prorated property taxes
California home sellers are required to pay property taxes on the days they’ve owned their home in the calendar year. Taxes are prorated and split between the seller and buyer.
The tax is due at closing. Actual costs depend on your annual taxes, and how many days you live in your home up until the closing date.
Speak with your agent or attorney for more details on what you might owe in prorated taxes.
3. Other potential costs
Home preparation costs
The cost to prepare your home for sale could add thousands more to your total upfront costs.
For example, home staging costs between $745 to $2,659 on average nationwide, according to HomeAdvisor. However, actual costs depend mainly on your market, the size of your home and number of rooms furnished, and how much furniture is needed.
If your home needs to be deep cleaned by a professional, expect to spend at least $300 for a complete cleaning.
Finally, pre-listing home repairs and improvements could add hundreds, if not thousands more to your budget, depending on how much work your home needs.
California home sellers almost always agree to cover the cost of the buyer’s home warranty, according to Samano.
“It’s done in good faith – it’s kind of like a bumper-to-bumper warranty for the buyer,” he says.
The cost of a home warranty in California ranges from $490 to $750 and depends on the size of the home, type of home (single-family or multi-unit), and coverage levels.
Buyer’s closing costs
Closing costs are negotiable between the seller and buyer.
“Normally, I will ask sellers to pay for all of my client’s closing costs,” he says. “Sometimes, a seller will agree to half. It’s up for negotiation.”
In California, some buyers may offer a higher purchase price to finance closing costs into their mortgage, he added.
For example, a buyer may offer $10,000 over fair market value in order to finance those costs into the loan, so keep this in mind when reviewing offers with your agent.
Homeowner’s association dues
You may owe HOA dues or transfer fees if your home is located in an HOA community.
HOA fees vary widely in California and can range from a few hundred bucks per month to thousands on properties in high-cost of living areas like San Francisco.
Sellers are typically responsible for covering a prorated amount of their annual membership dues at closing. You may also be charged an extra HOA fee to transfer homeownership records to the buyer at closing.
For example, condo homeowners can expect an HOA transfer fee ($500 to $750) to transfer all of the paperwork, including the HOA covenants, conditions, and restrictions document, according to Samano.
“The more amenities a condo complex has, the more the HOA transfer fees are,” he says.
However, like other home sale costs, HOA fees are negotiable between you and the buyer. Check with your agent, attorney, or HOA board for more information on what you might owe.
Termite inspection fee
Subterranean termites are common in California, from San Francisco to San Diego.
Termite inspections are separate from a buyer’s home inspection. They are not required during a home sale in California, but the buyer might get one anyway – and request you to pay for the cost.
The inspection typically costs about $100 but can cost up to $280, according to HomeAdvisor.
National Hazard Disclosure (NHD)
California home sellers are required to provide buyers with this 100-page hazard disclosure form, which costs between $50 to $150. It’s another disclosure that protects the seller and buyer.
Sellers need to disclose any of their home’s material defects within a one-mile radius of the property, which includes the following:
- Areas with high fire risk or wildfires.
- Flood zones.
- Earthquake zones.
- Homes near former military training sites (military ordnance location)
- Homes located close to an airport (airport influence area)
- Radon gas exposure.
Find an experienced local realtor to walk you through your home disclosure requirements.
Capital gains tax
All capital gains in California are taxed as ordinary income, according to the State of California Franchise Tax Board.
However, the IRS offers a tax break on capital gains from the sale of your primary residence, as long as you meet certain requirements:
- Single homeowners can deduct up to $250,000 of gains from the sale of their property;
- Married couples can deduct up to $500,000 of gains.
- You must have occupied the property for at least two of the past five years.
- You can also deduct certain repairs and improvements from your home’s cost basis.
California capital gains tax calculator
Use our calculator to estimate how much taxes you might owe when selling your house.
Who pays closing costs in each California County?
The seller and buyer generally each pay a portion of the total closing costs. Who pays what often depends on local customs, and conventions vary quite a bit in different parts of California.
The following chart shows what closing costs sellers usually pay in each California county.
How are California closing costs usually split?
|County||Escrow fees||Owner's title insurance|
|Butte||Buyer/seller split||Buyer/seller split|
|Calaveras||Buyer/seller split||Buyer/seller split|
|Colusa||Buyer/seller split||Buyer/seller split|
|Del Norte||Buyer/seller split||Buyer/seller split|
|El Dorado||Buyer/seller split||Buyer/seller split|
|Glenn||Buyer/seller split||Buyer/seller split|
|Imperial||Buyer/seller split||Buyer/seller split|
|Kern||Buyer/seller split||Ridgecrest: Buyer/seller split Others: Seller|
|Lassen||Buyer/seller split||Buyer/seller split|
|Los Angeles||Buyer/seller split||Seller|
|Madera||Buyer/seller split||Buyer/seller split|
|Mariposa||Buyer/seller split||Buyer/seller split|
|Merced||Buyer/seller split||Buyer/seller split|
|Nevada||Buyer/seller split||Buyer/seller split|
|Placer||Buyer/seller split||Buyer/seller split|
|San Bernardino||Buyer/seller split||Seller|
|San Diego||Buyer/seller split||Seller|
|San Joaquin||Buyer/seller split||Buyer/seller split|
|San Luis Obispo||Buyer/seller split||Seller|
|Santa Barbara||Buyer/seller split||Seller|
|Santa Cruz||Buyer/seller split||Buyer/seller split|
|Shasta||Buyer/seller split||Buyer/seller split|
|Sierra||Buyer/seller split||Buyer/seller split|
|Siskiyou||Buyer/seller split||Buyer/seller split|
|Tehama||Buyer/seller split||Buyer/seller split|
|Trinity||Buyer/seller split||Buyer/seller split|
|Tuolumne||Buyer/seller split||Buyer/seller split|
|Yolo||Davis: Buyer Others: Seller||Davis: Buyer Others: Seller|
Source: First American Title’s “Closing Costs: Who Pays What in California”
Cost to sell a California home: FAQs
How much are closing costs in California?
California closing costs average .80% of a home's final sale price. That figure includes common closing costs, such as title insurance and transfer taxes, but it does not include realtor fees, which add another 4.9%, on average, in expenses.
We break down the best ways to save on California realtor fees.
Who pays closing costs in California?
Buyers and sellers have separate closing costs in California. Sellers are usually responsible for paying for their share of pro-rated property taxes, as well as recording fees, state transfer taxes, and owner's title insurance.
However, it depends on where you are located. View our breakdown of how California closing costs are typically split.
What taxes do you pay when selling a California house?
All capital gains in California are taxes as ordinary income. In addition, California sellers may have to pay federal capital gains tax. Thankfully, the IRS offers a tax break on home sale gains on the sale of your primary residence. View our California capital gains tax calculator to estimate your gains.
9 Steps to Selling a House in California: Our step-by-step guide breaks down the California home sale process from start to finish. Learn from the experts.
How to Sell Without a Realtor in California: Selling your home without a real estate agent isn’t worth it for most homeowners in California. Read on to learn more about the process and the risks involved.