Congratulations! You are in the final stretch. Before you succeed in this quest of selling your home, you must go through the closing. Closing on a home can be one of the most rewarding yet overwhelming experiences for you as a home seller. Nonetheless, if you are well aware of seller closing costs in Washington, you be one step closer to a stress-free closing day.
- Closing costs, also known as “settlement costs,” are the final expenses to complete the real estate transaction.
- Closing costs are separate from the price of the property.
- The seller and the buyer have to pay specific closing costs.
- Typically, the closing process in Washington state is managed by the title agent or the escrow company.
- Due to different fees and statute requirements, closing costs vary across counties in Washington state.
What are Closing Costs in Washington State?
Closing costs in Washington state are a set of expenses that the seller and the buyer must pay to finalize the real estate transaction and transfer the ownership of the house. Some are closing costs negotiable, while others are non-negotiable, like taxes charged by your state or local jurisdiction.
With a typical home value of $613,674, the average closing costs in Washington state for sellers may amount to $49,093-$61,367.
Who Pays Closing Costs in Washington State?
Both the seller and buyer pay the closing costs. Although the buyer has to pay more number of fees as closing expenses, a seller has to pay a higher amount as closing costs.
If the offer price is attractive enough, a seller can choose to pay the entire closing costs to sweeten the deal for the buyer. Sellers need not wonder about how much is an appraisal in Washington because buyers are the ones usually responsible for costs like appraisal fees, title insurance, and mortgage fees.
Most of the sellers closing costs in Washington state are deducted from the proceeds they get for the property. As such, the seller needs enough equity to cover some of the expenses.
Washington real estate brokers generally know who typically pays which closing costs. So, it’s important to seek professional advice. Hiring an experienced agent can help lower estimated closing costs for seller in Washington state. Remember, some of the fees are negotiable, which your agent can discuss with you.
» Closing Cost Washington: Read more about buyer’s and seller’s closing costs in Washington and how much closing costs are paid by sellers and buyers in Washington.
How Much are Closing Costs in Washington State?
Seller closing costs in Washington state can amount to 8% to 10% of the final sale price of the home, not including the mortgage payoff.
The biggest closing cost (5%-6%) the seller has to pay is the commission to the listing and buyer’s agent. The remaining 3%-4% includes expenses like home inspection fee, HOA fee, estoppel fee, etc.
Let’s take a deeper look at seller closing costs in Washington state!
What are the Typical Seller Closing Costs in Washington State?
1. Attorney’s Fee
In Washington state, the law does not mandate the presence of a lawyer when you are selling a house.
Sellers may hire real estate attorneys to review the sales contract, especially when no real estate brokers are involved or there are any legal issues with the property. However, you can hire a real estate attorney even if your case is not unusual.
In most cases, the seller and buyer hire different attorneys to represent their best interests. However, if you and the buyer decide to hire the same attorney, the attorney fee will be split.
2. Credits Towards Closing Costs
You can offer to cover some closing costs in Washington for buyer to make the property more attractive, especially if you live in an area where market competition is low. These costs are called closing credits or seller concessions and are paid at closing.
3. Documentary Stamp
The documentary stamps refer to the excise tax levied on the documentation that transfers the property from you to the buyer. It is like paying tax on a property deed or some other official documentation.
4. Escrow Fees Washington State
An escrow is a neutral third party that holds certain funds or the property until the contract conditions have been met. It protects the interest of both parties by ensuring that either does not wrongfully back out of the deal and lose money. Typically, the escrow fee will be split between the buyer and you as both parties benefit from it.
5. Home Inspection Fee
You can opt for a home inspection to identify any major defects and issues, like plumbing issues, water damage, mold, appliance malfunction, etc., in the house that you must resolve before selling it. This can be done before the property is listed on the market (pre-inspection) or just before the closing. The cost of home inspection in Washington ranges from $400-$600.
The Evergreen State does not place the onus of home inspection on the seller. However, you must disclose any defects that may affect the physical structure of the property, its ownership, and/or its value.
The buyer can also undertake a home inspection. However, if they find undisclosed defects, it might give them the upper hand during negotiations, or they may back out of the deal.
» Washington Real Estate Seller’s Disclosure: What you NEED to tell the buyer!
6. Home Warranty Fee
A home warranty covers the maintenance cost of the devices and appliances in the house for a limited time period, like, days, months, or years. You may offer a home warranty to make the property more desirable for buyers.
7. Homeowner Association(HOA) Fee/ Document Fee
If you are a part of the Homeowners Association(HOA), you will have to pay the fee due until the closing date and clear the remaining dues, if any. In most cases, you will not be able to close on the house until the dues are paid.
However, if the issue persists and is not resolved before closing, the HOA can place a lien on your house and even initiate foreclosure.
8. HOA Estoppel Fee
The HOA Estoppel letter is a legally binding document containing details about the financial obligation, like the monthly fee, that the buyer will have to pay after closing. Additionally, it also offers information about any unresolved dues you may owe.
The HOA Estoppel fee needs to be paid by you as part of the process. It ranges from $200-$500.
9. HOA Transfer Fee
If you are a part of the Homeowners Association, at the time of closing, the ownership of your house needs to be transferred to the buyer in HOA records. HOA transfer fee is a one-time non-negotiable charge that you pay the HOA to update their records.
10. Mortgage Payoff
Mortgage payoff will most likely be one of the biggest items on your list of fees. You’ll have to pay off any remaining balance of the mortgage on your property with the proceeds of your home sale at closing. This includes interest accrued from the last payment to the day of closing and any penalty the lender might charge you for prepayment of the mortgage.
Contact your lender and discuss the requirements to pay off the mortgage to get the overall details of your closing costs. Parallelly, check for the loan documents if there’s any prepayment penalty with your mortgage.
11. Municipal Lien Search
A Municipal Lien Search can help you uncover any unrecorded liens, code violations, permits, taxes, and utility bills, associated with the property. While many sellers forego a municipal lien search, it can complement a title search, especially since it offers additional information about open or expired permits.
An open or expired permit can be a thorn in the side for both you and the buyer, as it can lead to further expenses and delays in the sale. On average, a municipal lien search costs $200.
12. Owner’s Title Insurance Washington State
The title insurance cost is based on the property value and is decided by the state. In Washington, usually, the seller pays for the owner’s title insurance to protect the buyer against discrepancies relating to the ownership of the property or false documentation. Additionally, title insurance takes care of any back taxes, liens, ownership clauses, etc.
Both parties can negotiate who purchases the owner’s title insurance in Washington.
» How to Calculate Title Insurance in Washington: Find out title insurance cost in Washington.
13. Property Survey
Home surveys in Washington can usually range between $345 and $675, as it also varies on the geographical location, the lot size, and the lot’s age. It’s typically performed to determine the boundary of your property, so the buyer can get an assurance of what they’re actually paying for.
Performing a property survey is not mandatory by law in Washington state. You can also negotiate this cost with the buyer.
14. Property Taxes
The owner of the house has to pay property tax to the local government. The average effective property tax rate in Washington state is 0.93%.
Property tax can be paid annually or at the time of the real estate transaction. You must pay prorated property tax according to the date of purchase at closing.
15. Realtor Fees in Washington State
Real estate commission in Washington ranges from 4% to 6% (listing agent commission + buyer’s agent commission which costs 2% to 3% of the total sales price).
The agent’s commission is the biggest chunk of the cost you need to pay. However, it’s negotiable and typically paid from the proceeds of your house sale. Likewise, don’t forget to contact your agent to negotiate the fees.
If you want to avoid paying hefty Washington state real estate commissions, you can list your property for a flat fee or with no commission at all! Choosing FSBO (For Sale by Owner) and listing your home with the MLS Flat Fee Washington companies can save you more. And you can actually pay zero on commissions if your buyer has no agent.
» How to Sell a Home Without a Realtor in Washington: A Comprehensive Guide
16. Real Estate Excise Tax (REET)
Real Estate Excise Tax or REET is a tax on the sale of property levied by the state and local government. While the Washington state real estate tax follows a graduated structure based on the selling price of the property, the local government imposes a flat rate tax. You must add the Washington state excise tax to the county/local excise tax to calculate the total REET.
17. Reconveyance Fee
When you pay off your mortgage, the lender will transfer the title of the property back to you, releasing you from the lien. The reconveyance fee covers the administrative cost of this process and recording the deed with the local municipality. Usually, the settlement agent collects this fee and makes the payment to the local government on your behalf.
Please note that the settlement agent may charge you a convenience fee for completing the process in your place.
18. Settlement Fee/Escrow Fee
Settlement fee is the compensation paid to a settlement agent for their closing services. A settlement agent is a third-party intermediary who helps you and the buyer complete the transaction. They clear the house for sale and transfer the ownership to the buyer and the respective funds to you.
In Washington state, usually, the title agency serves as the settlement agent. Title company fees in Washington state for settlement ranges between $800-$2000. You can negotiate this cost with the buyer or split it with them.
19. Utility Bills
You must pay all utility bills till the date of purchase of the house. The title company usually checks for unpaid bills and utility liens. If there are any dues, you must clear them at closing.
How to Reduce Closing Costs in Washington?
1. Opt for a discount broker or a flat fee realtor
Compared to traditional brokers who charge 6% of the sales price as commission, discount real estate brokers only charge 3-4% of the sales price for their services. Some low commission realtors offer higher concessions if you let them represent you as buyer’s agents for your next real estate purchase.
2. Choose “For Sale By Owner”(FSBO)
Sellers can save up to 3% commission and cut several costs by opting for “For Sale By Owner” services. Houzeo offers Flat Fee MLS packages for FSBO sellers that list properties on the MLS and make the selling process easier and smoother. What’s more, if the buyer is unrepresented, with Houzeo, sellers can sell their homes for zero realtor commission charge!
» Flat Fee MLS: Everything You Need to Know
3. Research and compare
You can save more cash on closing costs for seller, such as the pest inspector or homeowner’s insurance agent, title and escrow companies that are more economical. Browse and ask friends who have already experience hiring one.
4. Ask to roll pay your closing costs into your loan
Your lender may offer to pay the seller closing costs at closing and add it to your mortgage. However, it comes with a price. The lender may charge you a higher interest on the loan, which now also includes the closing cost.
5. Negotiate realtor fees
While traditional real estate agents usually charge 6% of the sale price as commission, this number is not set in stone. You can negotiate the fee with your realtor.
6. Ask the buyer to cover seller closing costs
Buyers may agree to cover closing costs for sellers if the market is competitive and fewer houses are in the market. Alternatively, you can raise the listing price to cover full or partial closing costs.
Washington State Closing Costs Calculator
Closing costs vary heavily according to location and mortgage rates. Houzeo’s Closing Costs Calculator Washington is a free tool that factors in these elements to help sellers and buyers estimate their closing costs. It shows the user a detailed list of itemized costs and highlights junk costs that can be avoided.
Houzeo’s Closing Cost Estimator is frequently calibrated to give you the closest estimate according to market conditions.
» Seller Closing Cost Estimator Washington: Check your closing costs now!
How Should I Prepare for my Washington Home Closing?
Closing a home is never an easy undertaking and could take a while. First, you need to process the needed paperwork and documents. Then, your settlement agent will schedule a date for your closing. Read here on how to prepare for your closing day.
1. Review Your Closing Documents in Advance
Before the scheduled closing date, it’s important to prepare all your closing documents beforehand. Review the document thoroughly and understand the provisions and regulations stated. Here are some crucial documents that you’ll likely sign during closing:
HUD-1 or Closing Disclosure
You will be given the closing disclosure containing all costs in detail at least 3 days before closing if your property is purchased with a mortgage. On the other hand, if your transaction is all cash, you will have to complete the HUD-1 (though it’s uncommon these days). These vital documents summarize the particulars of costs you’re being charged for, loan payoffs, if any, and the net process you’ll take to the bank.
Remember, depending on how much equity you have in the property, you might be asked to bring a check (or send a wire) on the closing date. Ensure there are no typos in your name, address, property address, bank info, and other details. As a precaution, review all costs and sums to ensure there are no mathematical errors or inadvertent costs. You’ll be surprised how many times these documents have errors – this is one of the reasons our founder launched Houzeo.
It’s a necessary document that allows the legal transfer of property title from the seller to the new homeowner. Remember to review the documents in detail, and verify the information—including the legal description of the property, the deed book, the deed book page, and the Property Identification Number (PIN), if you have one. We know of a case where a Seller sold a $94,000 property, but the deed also legally transferred the Seller’s 5 other homes worth $680,000 over to the Buyer. There was a huge scramble post-closing to correct this mistake. It could have been a nightmare for the Seller if the Buyer didn’t honestly transfer the rest of the properties back to the Seller.
Statement of Closing Costs
This statement summarizes all the expenses involved in the transaction, including the title search and the title insurance premium. Typically, the buyer will pay the insurance premium, while the other fee could be negotiated with both the buyer and seller. You’ll get the estimated fee once you’ve chosen a title company.
2. Don’t Hesitate to Ask Questions
If you’re not familiar with how the closing process works, you need to schedule an appointment beforehand with your closing agent. So before the said closing date, you know the essential things to bring and have questions you’re not quite sure of. And most importantly, talk with your real estate attorney regarding the legal transaction issues and paperwork.
3. Bring TWO Forms of Official ID
A licensed notary will be present during the home closing. Bring your valid driver’s license or passport for identification purposes. Carry a secondary I.D. as well, just in case. Here’s a quick list of the things you need to bring during the closing day.
- Government-issued photo identification of all sellers on the home contract
- Any questions you have regarding your closing statement
- The deed of your home, if you own it outright
- Access information, main keys, and security codes for your home
- Documentation of repairs you’ve made per the home inspection
- Your lucky pen for signing papers.
Developing an understanding of closing costs when selling a home in Washington state is important for you as it can greatly impact your profits. Additionally, the cost of selling a home in Washington state is an important factor in calculating the listing price of your house.
If you have not begun your real estate journey yet, opt for Houzeo. Houzeo.com, a tech company, provides an unbeatable combination of maximum savings, cutting-edge technology, and 5-star customer support. With its 100% virtual service, it helps home sellers list their properties without any hassle from the comfort of their homes, while also allowing home buyers to explore properties and make offers online. Houzeo’s customer-centric approach, advanced technology, and Washington Flat Fee MLS listing service make it an ideal choice for those looking to avoid paying high commissions and closing costs in Washington state.
Note: This is only a quick guide for all the sellers in Washington. Despite most information readily available online, seeking expert advice helps progress the process of selling a home.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does Washington have Capital Gains tax on real estate?
No. Washington state does not levy capital gains tax on the exchange of real estate.
2. Does seller pay title insurance in Washington state?
The seller usually pays for the owner's title insurance in Washington state. Nonetheless, they can negotiate this cost with the buyer.
3. How to calculate seller closing costs in Washington state?
Closing costs are a sum of specific settlement expenses. These vary according to the location, mortgage rates, and market conditions. Houzeo's closing cost estimator is a free tool you can use to get a close estimate of seller settlement costs.
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