Clueless WomanAre you an Illinois homeowner and clueless or feeling helpless about the seller closing costs, the sales process and information needed to sell your home? The expectation is that there will be some costs involved, and some quite substantial. There is no need to panic because reliable help and good advice are just a few mouse clicks away.

Hopefully, this comprehensive guide will help you minimize your closing costs when you sell your home in Illinois. Be aware that some information may be exclusive to the transaction—depending on your village, municipality or county. Others may not apply to all.

Real Estate Transaction Types

In all honesty, while the closing costs generally refer to the end of the transaction cycle, there are ways to minimize in the beginning stages of the transaction; including the initial desire to sell the home in the first place. I will outline what I am talking about below.

Real estate transactions include all types of sellers and buyers of real estate, who are ready, willing, and able to complete the transaction. A few common examples are commercial, residential, multi-family and undeveloped land. The descriptions here are not exclusive to any single transaction but can be used interchangeably.

For purposes of this writing, we will discuss typical residential, owner-occupied real estate purchases. This might be a single-family detached, an attached (condominium or townhome) type of residence that is being used for a primary residence. However, the terms may apply to other similar transactions as well.

Should I Sell My Home Without Listing With an Agent?

Real Estate Agent Helping ClientOf course, you can sell your home on your own but you will need to do all the legwork. Unless you have the time and desire to do all the associated tasks that a real estate agent does on a daily basis, it would be beneficial to list your property with an agent. Several tasks are associated with selling a home and a listing agent can effectively assist you with these.

A licensed agent can also list your home on the MLS, which gives your listing a much broader marketing exposure, which in turn will increase your chances of getting your home sold fast.

Also, listing agents are knowledgeable about the market and have a large network of potential buyers and other agents they can contact about your home. They can reach out to qualified buyers, set the right price, and market your home to the right audience. Since the agent has many systems already in place, this will help to minimize closing costs when selling your home in Illinois.

How Will Choosing the Best Real Estate Agent Help to Reduce Closing Costs?

Time is money. The best agent should position your home from the start to get the best price within the shortest period of time. This may include suggestions for making the home market ready at the minimal expense or, for recommending an as-is sale. Remember, you lose one way or another if your home racks up market time. Getting all parts of the sale right from the beginning will save you money.

Choose an agent who has years of experience selling homes and knows the market well. However, that’s not the only thing you need to consider.

Go with an agent who has a superb work ethic and is passionate about the industry. They should be committed to you as their client, trustworthy and honest. Additionally, find someone who’s relatable. You’ll be working closely with this agent so it’s important that you can actually work together harmoniously, they should be a good fit. These qualities combined with years of experience will contribute to a better sales experience.

Again, another reason to choose the best agent because this will help to minimize closing costs when selling your home in Illinois.

How to Set the Right Price

There is so much more involved when deciding on what price to ask for your home when you are ready to sell than just coming up with a number.

Of course, it is critical to get the home in the best marketing condition above all.

  1. Your agent should provide you with a CMA or a Comparative Marketing Analysis of similar type homes as yours. This professionally prepared report will include both actively listed, pending, and sold properties in your neighborhood over the last few months. It may also include expired listings which give you a glimpse into why buyers may have rejected those particular homes. 
  2. Take note of the original listing price and the final sales price of these properties, as that would help you determine the list to sale ratios.
  3. Discuss how your home compares to the properties in the CMA. Your agent should make adjustments in value for each property and provide objective commentary in helping you set the right list price.
  4. Ask about current market conditions.

All these factors and more will help you set up the right price for your homes, which will help to minimize closing costs when selling your home in Illinois.

Instant Home Value Calculator

The best place to start is to get an INSTANT HOME ESTIMATE of how much your home is worth.

While this is only an estimate based on the sales and listings available, your agent will take special note of any upgrades and improvements you have made, evaluate your location in relation to pluses and minuses in your community; things that are desirable to potential buyers, and so much more.

Your real estate agent is the best source of information about the local community and real estate topics. Give Becky Howard a call today at 708-703-0684 to learn more about local areas, discuss selling a house, or tour available homes for sale.

What Are Some Ways to Increase the Value of My Home?

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house painter

grand front entry






Remember that when selling a home, first impressions will make a lasting impression.

So start with curb appeal:

  1. Sharp landscaping and a well maintained exterior structure grab the eye.
  2. Check for peeling paint, cracked concrete, worn roofing shingles and other deteriorating components of the home.
  3. Don’t forget to make the front door entry appealing enough to convince a buyer to look at what’s inside the house.
  4. Lighting also improves a home, so let the natural light in. Homes that are dimly lit creates a gloomy mood so avoid it. If possible, up the wattage on light bulbs. Look at your home as a potential buyer will. 
  5. When staging a home, go with what the market wants and not what you want. You may have to ditch those bright-colored paints for neutral colors. Your agent will recommend fixes, upgrades and minor improvements won’t cost you a fortune too but it can significantly increase the value of your home. It can really go a long way.

Your agent should utilize a professional photographer and not resort to smartphone pictures. Demand it. Listings that show well visually is a key component in attracting more buyers and reducing market time.

Here is a sample 3D tour of one of my recent listings:

What Are the Fees to Sell My Home?

Listed below are common items related to the seller portion of the sale. Your agent should provide a written estimate of your seller closing costs and your net equity. 

Commissions and other fees could take up about 10% of the purchase price of the home. You should know that there is no standard industry commission fee. These fees are strictly negotiable and your agent will explain what is included in the fee and how it is shared with the buyer’s selling agent. 


Typical Closing Statement Fees

Real Estate Taxes: In Illinois, they are generally prorated at 105%. You will have to pay all taxes owed up to date of closing.

County/State Transfer Taxes: In Illinois Cook County, the cost is $1.50 per $1,000. However, some municipalities may require transfer stamps in addition to what is owed by the county and state. Some of these additional fees may be charged to the buyer as well.

Title Insurance:  Depends on the amount of coverage requested. For instance:  $200,000 or less the general cost is about $1,700.

Realtor Commission – Negotiable. You should know that there is no standard industry commission fee. Your agent will explain what is included in the fee and how it is shared with the buyer’s selling agent. 

Municipal Water and Inspections Fees: Will vary and are generally paid outside of closing by the seller. You should be aware that in some villages, issuance of transfer stamps are tied to payment of the water bill and clearance of any liens for grass cutting, etc. Unpaid village bills will delay a closing.

Attorney Fee: Varies, depending on the complexity of the transaction. Minimally, you can expect to spend $600.00.

Survey: A new one is required unless the one you have is less than 6 months old and it is still accurate. General cost about $450.00.

Home Owners Association (HOA) Fees: These will need to be paid before closing and vary depending on any outstanding items (monthly dues, special assessments, etc).

Home Warranty Fee: Varies but you can purchase a very good policy for the buyer for about $550.00.

Home Preparation (about 1%) – This involves home staging and doing home repairs. You will likely need to repaint your home or buy a new carpet to increase its value. Another strategy is to allow a repair credit.

Buyer Closing Cost Credit

Although you, the seller,  is not required to assist the buyer with closing costs, in some markets, it is not unusual for a buyer to request the help. Any assistance is strictly negotiable.

Rather than losing a good buyer, focus on the bottom line. If the net offer is sufficient to get you to where you want to be, does it really matter that you are granting the credit?  

What Are the Buyer Fees?

Yes, there are costs that go to a potential buyer as well. Both sides of the transaction have a part to play.

Buyers fees could include the following:

  • Transfer Tax (about 0.75% of the price)
  • Survey 
  • Inspection fees
  • Credit Report Fees
  • Initial Earnest Money
  • Appraisal Fee
  • Discount Points
  • Title Search and Title Insurance Fees, and the
  • Down Payment

Do I Need To Have a Home Inspection?

Having a home inspection will assess the condition of your home. The home inspectors should be licensed and highly adept at finding out major issues and problems. As a seller, you absolutely need one.

First, it will help you determine whether you will need to do some major or minor repairs to your home before it is listed for sale. The inspection report is not a guarantee of condition but will help to identify the obvious and not so obvious items of concern.

Next, a professional inspection report stating that your home has no known issues will entice a buyer to make an offer. Some buyers are cautious about buying homes that were not professionally inspected. If you do a home inspection, you increase the chances of getting an offer.

The cost of having a home inspection done by a professional (not your friend’s uncle who knows a guy), will, in the end, help you maximize your selling price and minimize your closing costs, saving you time which is money.

You may want to check out: My List of Preferred Vendors

What If I Need to Make Some Repairs?

Sometimes an inspection will reveal items In the event where repairs are needed, sellers have three options:

  • Completely remodel the home
  • Sell it as is – without fixing the repairs
  • Fix only those items that need repair
  • Offer a credit to cover a portion of the full repair or negotiate the repairs

Will Selling My Home Impact My Taxes?

According to the IRS, there are many exclusions, exemptions, exceptions and even credits that can apply to sell and buy a home. 

For example, If you’ve lived in your home for at least two years in the last five years, you may get excluded for Capital Gains Tax. You can exclude up to $250K if you’re a single filer and up to $500K for joint filers. This is applicable for selling primary homes. If you’ve owned your home for less than a year, regular taxes apply.

For the standard deductions, it has increased to $24K for joint filers and $12K for single filers. Local and state property taxes are now limited to $10K.

Note: I am not a lawyer or tax advisor. Please consult the professional of your choice for the best advice.

What If I Owe Back Taxes?

It’s still possible to sell a home albeit you owe taxes, but you will have to eventually do something about the tax lien should you intend to successfully close the sale.

The best option would be to settle the tax lien when you sell the property. Do make sure you will have enough funds to fully pay the tax lien as well as the other fees involved in closing the sale.

You can also ask the IRS to grant you a subordination so the taxes are paid and the property is successfully closed. Otherwise, you will have to pay the taxes with your own money. Try to ask for a payment plan from the IRS to make it easier to pay off the lien.

Note: I am not a lawyer or tax advisor. Please consult the professional of your choice for the best advice.

How Long Will It Take to Sell My Home?

Most agents have information on the average days on market for a certain area and the type of properties. However, several factors affect a home sale. Price, location, home condition, and marketing are just some. You may get multiple offers if you price your home below the market value.

If inventory is low or if it’s strategically located and demand is high, it may sell real fast. It would also help you if you stage a home and market it to the right audience.

Of course, hiring the right agent is also a factor. If he has a vast network and very proactive, your home may sell faster.

What if I am Upside Down?

Many homeowners across the country owe more on their home than what it is worth. There are options available to you but always start with contacting your lender for advice.

Even if you are facing foreclosure, your home can be sold if you take prompt action before the process ends, but you need to work with your lender to get the best results. 

If the decision is to sell the home, you will need an experienced attorney and agent who specialize in short sales. These are complicated transactions that require the cooperation of your lender to accept less than what is owed on the home. 

Should I Offer a Home Warranty?

Offering a  home warranty goes a long way in making a potential buyer feel that their purchase was a good one because if something breaks soon after purchase, the warranty offers some financial protection to get the repair done or replacement.

Home warranties offer general coverage for electrical systems, telephone wiring, air conditioning, water heater, garbage disposals and furnace heating. It varies depending on the type of plan you purchase for the home.

Getting a home warranty is a good marketing tool especially for first-time home buyers concerned about future home repairs. Before getting a home warranty though, do make sure you have done research about the reputation of the company to ensure the best home warranty plan.

Here is more information on a Home Warranty:

What If I Have A Special Assessment?

A special assessment is often required for owners of a condominium or townhouse when something occurs within the complex where insufficient reserves are available to cover the cost and require funds to correct the situation that is outside of the scope of normal maintenance, typically of common elements. 

An example might be major roof repair, landscaping renovation, sprinkler system; things that are the responsibility of all unit owners. This is when the usually one-time cost is divided up among all unit owners and the payments are either spread out over a few months or due at a certain due date. 

Review all the details of this Special Assessment and ensure that you disclose this information to the buyer. Otherwise, the buyer may pursue a legal action. What you can do is pay off the Special Assessment in full.

Selling a home takes patience, experience, and market knowledge. Thankfully, we have these three qualities.

Do let us know about your plans so we can give you the best options. Contact us so we can give you a comprehensive valuation of your home.

What Are My Next Steps?

We have covered a lot of material today. By now you should have a good understanding of the major processes involved in not just selling your home, but how you can minimize the cost of selling your home as well.

Your next steps would be contacting our office if you are not currently working with another agent. We would begin the process by having a consultation of what your needs and goals are for the future. We would determine which of our team members would need to be included at the beginning, during, and at the end of the transaction. All of this is done for you as part of our normal process.

It would be an honor to work with you!

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