Have you looked at your property value in Maryland recently and decided it might be time to cash in? With home prices surging since the beginning of the pandemic, Maryland homeowners have enjoyed quite the increase in equity. However, you won’t get to keep all your profits when selling a home in Maryland. Selling a house costs a lot of money here, as the state has high transfer and recording taxes, which you’ll need to factor into your budget. Read on for everything you need to know to help your bottom line when you list a home in the Old Line State.
Are you ready to sell?
Median home prices in Maryland climbed by more than 5 percent over the past year, so you might be wondering whether you should sell your home now or wait. After all, what if your property jumps by another 5 percent by next year? However, all signs point to a slowdown in the housing market. In fact, median sale prices in the state actually declined between June and July of 2022, from $410,000 to $399,000, according to data from Maryland Realtors. So, if you have a plan in place for where you’re moving next and you feel comfortable about the cost of living in your next location, now is a good time to craft your selling strategy.
Preparing to sell
Your home fits your needs, but is it ready to impress buyers? Ask yourself these three questions before you list it.
1. Is it worth upgrading your home before you sell?
Should you invest more money in your Maryland home to impress prospective buyers? Probably not. Rather than spending a lot of cash on a really big project, like a kitchen remodel — and potentially not making it back — it’s wise to consider smaller, more economical ways to boost the value of your property.
2. What should you repair before selling your home?
First impressions are everything, especially in real estate. So, if you were a potential buyer looking at your house, are there any major issues that might turn you off? Address visible problems like leaky faucets, chipped paint and fraying carpet. However, there are some areas you shouldn’t fix. If you have an older refrigerator or an aging washing machine, for example, don’t bother spending money to get new ones.
3. Should you pay to stage your home?
Staging your home can help your property stand out to buyers. The cost varies, depending on whether you need just minor cleaning and decluttering or major assistance with furniture rentals or more. The investment can pay off in a big way, though: Staged homes sold for around $40,000 more than their initial list prices in 2021, according to data from the Real Estate Staging Association.
When is the best time to sell a house in Maryland?
The best time to sell a house is when it’s likely to spend the shortest amount of time on the market. In Maryland, like many places around the country, that tends to be the beginning of the summer. In June of 2021, homes were selling in around 12 days, according to Redfin. By January of 2022, that time had ballooned to 33 days before beginning to drop again.
Finding a local Maryland real estate agent
Some homeowners try to sell their home without a real estate agent to avoid paying commission fees on the deal. However, the right real estate agent will prove to be much more valuable than the 3 percent you’ll need to pay them. In fact, recent figures from the National Association of Realtors shows that FSBO (For Sale By Owner) listings typically sell for $260,000, while agent-assisted listings go for $318,000 — a difference of more than $50,000. It’s not just about money, either. A real estate agent will put in work and time to craft your listing, host open houses and negotiate with buyers to make sure you maximize your profit.
Pricing your home
Choosing your asking price is the most important piece of selling your home in Maryland. Too low, and you run the risk of missing out on thousands of dollars. Too high, and you might lose some interest from budget-conscious buyers — or, even worse, you might need to drop the price. It’s a problem that more sellers in Maryland have been facing: Nearly 34 percent of listings decreased their asking prices in July, per Redfin. So, while you can take some preliminary steps to figure out what your house is worth, your agent should play a key role in helping you understand the sweet spot for pricing. He or she will walk you through comps of similar recently sold properties in your area, and likely create a thorough comparative market analysis, to determine an appropriate price.
Documents and disclosures in Maryland
Most Maryland sellers will need to complete the state’s residential property disclosure and disclaimer statement. It’s a four-page form that outlines all known defects of the property, from the condition of the gutters and downspouts to any past zoning issues. And if you are part of a homeowners association, be sure to request copies of recent meeting minutes, bylaws and documents of the association’s financial health, as the buyer’s representatives will want to review all of this information.
Need to sell your home fast?
There are ways to speed up the timeline if you’re in a rush to sell. Here are four ways to get to the finish line faster.
- Look into iBuyers: An iBuyer like Opendoor or Offerpad gives sellers a nearly instant offer. It’s super-fast, but keep in mind that the offer may be low, because they need to make a profit. Plus, these companies don’t operate everywhere, so if you’re researching one, make sure they buy houses in Maryland.
- Find a cash buyer: You can also compare companies that buy houses for cash. These are typically real estate investors who will either fix the house up and flip it to another buyer or use it as a long-term rental property. In particularly competitive markets, individuals may also make cash offers to help themselves stand out from the pack.
- Sell as-is: An as-is listing might be able to attract buyers who are looking for a bargain. This route is best if your home isn’t in great condition and you aren’t willing to deal with concession requests from a home inspection.
- Add curb appeal: How about trying to add some quick curb appeal to your home? Wash the windows, paint the front door and give the front lawn some extra love. It won’t take much time or cost much money, and it will up your first impression for buyers. Do the work today, and list the property tomorrow.
As the seller, you don’t necessarily have to go to your closing day in Maryland. Instead, you can let your attorney deal with the final details and hand over the keys to the buyer. You will, however, need to understand how much it costs to sell your house so you know how much you will actually be able to put in your bank account.
Cost of selling a home in Maryland
You’ll need to pay the real estate agents involved in the deal, which typically runs 3 percent of the sale price to your agent and another 3 percent to the buyer’s agent. In addition to that 6 percent fee, Maryland’s transfer taxes and recordation taxes can take a sizable chunk of your profit.
Sellers’ closing costs
- Title insurance: There isn’t a standard in place regarding which party covers the cost of title insurance in Maryland. If you wind up footing the bill, be ready to hand over a decent chunk of cash: A policy for a $500,000 property would likely cost around $2,225.
- Transfer and recordation taxes: The buyer and seller share the cost of transfer taxes and recordation taxes in Maryland. However, even with a 50/50 split, be ready to hand over a lot of cash. At the state level, there is a transfer tax of 0.5 percent — a manageable fee. The county level is where the costs can really add up, and they are quite different, depending on where your home is located. In Baltimore City and County, sellers hand over an additional 1.5 percent of the purchase price, along with a recordation tax of $5 to $10 for every $1,000 of value. In Frederick County, there is no transfer tax, but there is a high recordation tax of $14 for every $1,000 of value.
- Concessions: If the buyer’s home inspection uncovers any problems with the property, they may ask you to cover a portion of their closing costs. (You’re not required to say yes, however.)
- Attorney fees: If you hire a real estate attorney, which you should for a transaction this large and complex, you’ll need to pay them for their services. This cost varies based on their rate and the amount of time they spend on your sale.
Take the first step
If now is the right time for you to sell your house in Maryland, start looking for a professional real estate agent right away. Ask some of your friends and neighbors for recommendations, and arrange time to sit down with at least three agents. Ask them these essential questions to understand how each one can help you maximize the profit from your sale.