In California, selling a house costs an average of 4.8-11.0% of the final sale price. The typical home seller pays roughly $28k-65k in realtor commission, closing costs, and other related expenses.
To calculate this estimate, we polled California realtors about local real estate commission costs. Then we collected closing cost data from multiple title companies in the state. Read on for a detailed guide of what costs you’ll pay when you sell a house in California.
Table of Contents
- Average Cost to Sell a Home in California
- Preparing to Sell
- Real Estate Commission
- Seller Closing Costs
- Home Selling Costs in California By City
Average Cost to Sell a Home in California
We did the math, and we found the average cost to sell a house in California is 4.8-11.0% of the sale price. This estimate includes the expenses most home sellers pay, such as:
- Home updates, staging, and repairs
- Real estate commission
- Closing costs
NOTE: To calculate how much money you’ll make when you sell your house, you need to deduct the remaining balance on your home loan. This is known as the “mortgage payoff.” Whatever is left after paying off your mortgage and subtracting your home selling costs is called your “net proceeds” from the sale.
The average California home seller pays around $28k-65k in sale-related expenses. We’ve split them into three main categories:
|Costs||% of sale price|
|Seller closing costs||0.1-5.5%|
|Home preparation expenses||Varies*|
*Home preparation costs depend on factors like a home’s age, size, and condition. Local housing market dynamics also play a role. Talk to a real estate agent for an accurate estimate for your situation.
In a typical home sale, you won’t pay realtor commission or closing costs until the transaction is complete. Home preparation expenses are the only costs you’ll pay out of pocket.
Preparing to Sell in California
Getting a house ready to sell costs around $6k-8k in California, according to a 2019 Zillow report.
|City||Home prep cost|
This estimate includes common out-of-pocket expenses like:
- House painting
- Full-service lawn care
- House cleaning and staging
- Local moving costs
What you’ll actually spend on home preparation depends on its age, size, and condition. Some houses need more TLC than others. But most sellers spruce up their homes before they put them on the market. So, you should prepare to face some upfront expenses when you sell your home.
We recommend that you talk to a real estate agent for tips on what projects will maximize your home’s value.
Is It Worth Upgrading Your Home Before You Sell?
While it’s a good idea to invest in home preparation, splurging on expensive home upgrades doesn’t always pay off. Many common improvements fail to increase a property’s value enough to off-set the seller’s out-of-pocket costs.
According to a 2020 report, only two upgrades in the Los Angeles area provide the average homeowner a positive return on investment (ROI):
|Highest value home upgrades (cost)||Return on investment (ROI)|
|Manufactured Stone Veneer ($9,699)||120.2%|
|Garage Door Replacement ($3,956)||106.6%|
|Minor Kitchen Remodel – Midrange ($26,993)||95.1%|
|Entry Door Replacement – Steel ($2,119)||91.2%|
|Deck Addition – Composite ($23,911)||84.4%|
Before you invest in expensive home upgrades, you should consult with a realtor with experience selling your local market. They can help you decide whether any improvements make sense in your situation.
What Should I Fix Before I Sell My Home?
If you’re aware of any major problems with your house, it’s wise to fix them before you list the property for sale.
It’s difficult to sell a house when major systems like the roof, plumbing, and foundation need repairs. Most buyers desire a turnkey home — not a fixer-upper. Fixing obvious problems makes it easier to attract buyers, which could lead to better offers and help you negotiate a higher sale price.
NOTE: In California, home sellers have a legal obligation to give buyers a written Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS) that describes the property and highlights any known defects. The standard purchase contract template most CA realtors use obligates sellers to produce this disclosure within seven days of accepting an offer.
If you don’t complete important repairs up front, there’s a greater risk that a potential sale will fall through. The buyer will eventually discover the defects, either through the written disclosure or the inspection process. They may walk away from the deal if you won’t fix the damage before closing or make other concessions.
Sellers who can’t afford to make repairs — or just want to avoid the hassle — can consider selling their house as-is. But selling as-is signals that the home needs work. This greatly diminishes the pool of interested buyers, making it a lot harder to sell the home at market value.
Real Estate Commission in California
The average real estate commission rate in California is 4.7-5.5% of the final sale price, according to our poll of local realtors. That translates to $28k-65k for the average California home, which is valued at $587k.
Of course, California home values vary quite a bit across the state. Here’s the average cost of commission for houses at other price levels:
|Sale price||Realtor commission cost|
Realtor commission is typically the largest home-selling expense you can expect to face. It’s also one of the areas where you have the biggest opportunity to cut costs.
Possible ways to save on commission include using a discount broker or a flat-fee listing service — or even listing your home for sale by owner. However, the best option for many sellers is to negotiate a lower commission rate with a full-service realtor.
Seller Closing Costs in California
In California, home sellers pay an average of 0.1-5.5% of the property’s sale price in “closing costs” at the completion of the sale. This category includes the variety of fees, taxes, and other expenses involved with transferring the home’s ownership to the buyer.
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. But no matter where you’re selling, closing cost responsibilities are 100% negotiable.
The following chart shows what closings costs sellers usually pay in each California county. Read on to learn more about each of these fees, along with what they generally cost.
Title Insurance: Up to ~0.5%
In some California counties, it’s customary for sellers to purchase the owner’s title insurance policy or split the cost with the buyer. This insurance protects the new owner if another person later makes a claim against the property’s title that predates the sale.
Title insurance usually costs 0.25-0.5% of the sale price, but actual fees vary between underwriters.
Home loan providers typically require a separate title insurance policy that protects the lender’s interest in the property. Lender’s title insurance is almost always the buyer’s responsibility. But, as with all closing costs, this is negotiable.
Documentary Transfer Taxes: 0.11% to 3.0%
Sellers are ordinarily responsible for at least half of the “documentary transfer taxes.” Local governments in California impose these taxes when a property’s title changes hands.
The seller usually pays the entire county transfer tax. The county transfer tax rate is set at 0.11% by the state legislature and is uniform throughout the state.
Many cities impose additional transfer taxes. Local tax rates range from 0.22-3.0% and sometimes vary based on the price of the home. Depending on local conventions, the seller either pays the entirety of the city transfer tax or splits it with the buyer.
|City||Tax rate(s)||Who pays|
|Berkeley||$1.5m or less: 1.5%|
Above $1.5m: 2.5%
|El Cerrito||1.20%||Buyer/seller split|
|Mountain View||0.33%||Buyer/seller split|
|Oakland||300k or less: 1%|
$2m or less: 1.5%
$5m or less: 1.75%
Above $5m: 2.5%
|Palo Alto||0.33%||Buyer/seller split|
|Richmond||Below $1m: 0.7%|
Below $3m: 1.2%
Below $10m: 2.5%
$10m or above: 3%
|San Francisco*||$250k or less: 0.5%|
Below $1m: 0.68%
Below $5m: 0.75%
Below $10m: 2.25%
Below $25m: 2.75%
$25m or above: 3%
|San Jose**||Below $2m: 0.33%|
$5m or less: 1.08%
$10m or less: 1.33%
Above $10m: 1.88%
|San Leandro||0.60%||Buyer/seller split|
|San Mateo||0.50%||Buyer/seller split|
*San Francisco’s city transfer tax includes the 0.11% county tax rate.
**San Jose’s city transfer tax rate is 0.33% for all homes. Properties valued at $2m or greater are subject to a second tax, whose rates range from 0.75-1.5%.
Sources: First American Title / Old Republic Title
Escrow Fees: $0-1,750+
Regional customs often dictate who’s responsible for the escrow fees. These charges cover the cost of hiring a title company to manage the logistics of the sale.
In most counties, the seller and buyer split the escrow fees. But there are some localities where either the buyer or seller pays the entire bill.
Seller Concessions: Varies
Home sellers must also factor in the cost of “seller concessions,” which includes anything they agreed to give the buyer when negotiating the purchase contract.
The most common seller concessions include:
- Leaving the buyer appliances or other personal items
- Lowering the sales price
- Paying some or all of the buyer’s closing costs
- Purchasing a home warranty for the buyer
According to Zillow, 81% of sellers make at least one concession. However, concessions are entirely negotiable.
What concessions you make and how much they cost will depend on your local market. Talking to a realtor is the best way to obtain an accurate estimate of what you should expect to pay.
Who Pays Closing Costs in Each California County
Note: in all areas of the state, the seller usually pays the country transfer tax.
|County||Escrow Fee||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|
|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|
Sources: First American Title / Old Republic Title
Average Home Selling Costs in California by City
In California, home selling costs vary quite a bit from city to city. We found that the biggest differences stem from closing cost responsibilities and realtor commission rates.
Below, we’ve compiled estimates of home selling costs in the six largest cities in California
Cost to Sell a House in Los Angeles, CA
- Median home value: $768k
- Average real estate commission in Los Angeles: 4.9-5.9%
- Seller closing costs: 0.8-3.1%
- Typical Los Angeles home sellers can expect to pay around $44k-69k to sell their home
Los Angeles home sellers generally pay around 5.7-9.0% of the sale price in transaction-related costs. That adds up to $44k-69k, based on the current median home value of $768k.
Realtor fees in Los Angeles are higher than the state average. So, if you’re selling in this part of California, it’s a good idea to try to find ways to save on real estate commission.
Cost to Sell a House in San Diego, CA
- Median home value: $675k
- Average real estate commission in San Diego: 4.6-5.4%
- Seller closing costs: 0.4-2.6%
- Typical San Diego home sellers can expect to pay around $34k-54k to sell their home
Selling a house in San Diego costs an average of 5.0-8.0%. Local real estate commission rates are slightly less than the state average, according to our survey of California realtors.
Cost to Sell a House in San Jose, CA
- Median home value: $1m
- Average real estate commission in San Jose: 4.4-5.2%
- Seller closing costs: 0.6-3.5%
- Typical San Jose home sellers can expect to pay around $52k-91k to sell their home
In San Jose, it costs an average of 5.0-8.7% to sell a house. Sellers should note that the city has a progressive transfer tax system, so it taxes more valuable homes at higher percentages.
Cost to Sell a House in San Francisco, CA
- Median home value: $1.4m
- Average real estate commission in San Francisco: 4.5-5.3%
- Seller closing costs: 0.5-5.0%
- Typical San Francisco home sellers can expect to pay around $70k-145k to sell their home
San Francisco home selling costs range from 5.0-10.3%. The Bay Area is the most expensive housing market in the United States, so selling a pricier home could easily translate into a six-figure expense.
Realtor commission rates are moderately lower than the state average. This is likely because commission percentages generally go down as home values increase.
However, San Francisco also has relatively expensive transfer taxes. Rates start at 0.5% and range as high as 3.0% for homes worth $25m or more.
Cost to Sell a House in Fresno, CA
- Median home value: $272k
- Average real estate commission in Fresno: 4.7-5.5%*
- Seller closing costs: 0.4-2.6%
- Typical Fresno home sellers can expect to pay around $14k-22k to sell their home
*Due to insufficient data, real estate commission rates in Fresno, CA are inferred from the statewide average.
Fresno home sellers typically pay 5.1-8.1% in sale-related expenses. That translates into approximately $14k-22k for the average transaction.
Cost to Sell a House in Sacramento, CA
- Median home value: $370k
- Average real estate commission in Sacramento: 4.5-5.3%
- Seller closing costs: 0.5-2.7%
- Typical Sacramento home sellers can expect to pay around $19k-30k to sell their home
Selling a house in Sacramento costs an average of 5.0-8.0% of the home’s final sale price. Local commission rates are slightly less than the state average, even though home values are lower than in other major California metros.
Home selling prices provided are meant to give prospective home sellers a ballpark figure of their costs. We utilized the following datasets to provide the analysis in this article:
- Home values – Zillow Home Value data collected in November 2020.
- Realtor commission – From our survey of 49 California real estate agents.
- Seller closing costs – From our dataset of hundreds of pricing quotes from major title companies in California.
Seller Closing Costs: Here’s Everything You Need to Know: In this guide, we detail what you need to know about closing costs when selling your home, including who pays what, typical rates, and some tips for reducing these fees.
What Companies Offer the Lowest Real Estate Commission Fees?: The typical realtor commission rate is 5-6% of the final sale price. Many sellers don’t realize they can reduce the amount of commission they pay, sometimes by 50% or more!