Key takeaways

  • In real estate, a home seller's net proceeds is the amount of money they walk away with after all costs and expenses have been paid.
  • The way in which you sell your home can have an impact on how much you'll make in proceeds.
  • If the amount of money you earn on the sale is significant enough, it may trigger the federal capital gains tax.

When listing a home on the market, the amount of money you’ll ultimately pocket from the sale is often top of mind. The money a home seller keeps after all fees, commissions, closing costs and other expenses have been paid is referred to as net proceeds.

The exact amount of net proceeds a seller might earn is hard to calculate until an offer has been accepted. It is possible, however, to get a general idea of what the net proceeds from your home sale will be.

Net proceeds meaning

As the name implies, net proceeds in real estate is the money a homeowner walks away with — or nets — after the sale of the property. The amount is usually less than the home’s actual sale price because of the expenses involved in selling a home, especially if there’s still a mortgage to be paid off.

“Net proceeds is the amount of money a home seller will receive after deducting all of the costs of a sale,” says Ralph DiBugnara, president of Home Qualified and vice president of mortgage lender Cardinal Financial.

The costs associated with a home sale typically include agent commissions, title insurance, attorney fees and escrow fees. Depending on where the property is located, there may also be property taxes and transfer taxes to be paid.

Another big factor that can eat into the net proceeds is the payoff balance on the mortgage. If money is still owed on the mortgage, that balance is generally paid with funds from the sale of the home.

Net proceeds are what you walk away with after all mortgages, liens and transaction costs are paid. — Greg McBride, Bankrate Chief Financial Analyst

One important note: Net proceeds are not the same as profit.

“Net proceeds are what you walk away with after all mortgages, liens and transaction costs are paid,” says Greg McBride, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst. “The proceeds include your down payment and any principal repaid, which do not represent profit.”

How to calculate net proceeds from a home sale

The simplest way to calculate net proceeds is to deduct all of the seller’s closing costs, commissions and the mortgage balance from the final sale price of the home.

To get a truer sense of net proceeds, however, you may also want to factor in some of the additional expenses associated with selling your home. That may mean including the cost of any repairs or improvements made to the home before listing, as well as the costs of staging your home. All of these fees eat away at the net proceeds earned from a home sale.

Net proceeds example

Here’s an example from DiBugnara of the net proceeds resulting from a home sale:

Let’s say a home is sold for $500,000. The seller’s costs to sell that home include a mortgage payoff balance of $300,000, real estate agent fees of $15,000, attorney fees of $1,000 and other sales taxes and closing costs of $4,000. That leaves the seller with net proceeds of $180,000.

Net proceeds and taxes

Depending on the type of property you sold and what your plan is for the money earned, your net proceeds may trigger a tax event. The impact to your taxes will depend on many factors, including your tax bracket, marital status, how long you’ve owned the house and whether it was your primary residence.

Current laws allow the first $250,000 in profit for single filers, or the first $500,000 for those married and filing taxes jointly, to be excluded from impacting your tax liabilities. To qualify for this exclusion, the IRS stipulates that you must have lived in the home as your primary residence for a period of time that amounts to two years out of five years. Profits above and beyond that may be taxed as long-term capital gains.

You may however, be able to avoid being taxed if you use the profit from the sale to buy a new home. “If profit from the sale of the home, meaning the difference between what it cost you to buy it and what you sold it for, is invested back into another home, then in most cases you can avoid capital gains tax,” says DiBugnara. “Keep in mind that this reinvestment must be completed in a certain amount of time, usually 90 days to six months at most.”

The way you sell makes a difference

The net proceeds resulting from the sale of a home can vary significantly based on how you choose to sell the property. “Net proceeds can be impacted by how you sell your home because the costs of selling it can be different,” says DiBugnara. “For instance, if you sell a home on your own, compared to using a real estate agent, it could cost you less in expenses, making your net proceeds higher.

Let’s compare a few of the most common methods:

  • Agent sales: When selling a home the traditional way, with a professional real estate agent, you can expect to pay that agent a commission. This typically runs between 2.5 and 3 percent of the sale price. (Depending on the details of your deal, you may also be responsible for paying your buyer’s agent’s fee as well.) But selling with an agent is also the best way to get top dollar for your home, which increases your profits.
  • FSBO sales: A for sale by owner or FSBO transaction eliminates the need to pay a listing agent’s commission. But, while you do eliminate that cost, you may also earn less money on the sale. In 2023, the average FSBO listing sold for a median of $310,000, compared to $405,000 for listings with an agent, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.
  • Cash homebuyer or iBuyer sales: Selling to a company that buys houses for cash brings in proceeds quickly and with less hassle than a market sale. However, this approach tends to result in less net proceeds for the seller, because these companies typically offer less than market value for homes. In the case of online-only iBuyers, they might also charge hefty service fees. “Since iBuyers need to make a profit on the sale, they rarely make an offer at or over full market value, and their fee structure is often more expensive than an agent’s commission,” says Rick Sharga, founder of the real estate consulting firm CJ Patrick Company.


  • Gross proceeds are the total amount that the seller receives from the sale of the home. Net proceeds are the amount that the seller actually pockets after paying the mortgage balance and various closing costs.
  • Not exactly. As McBride explains, “Net proceeds are what you walk away with after all mortgages, liens and transaction costs are paid.” That includes your down payment and any principal repaid, which do not represent actual profit.