The cost to buy and sell an apartment is one of the reasons apartments are a long-term play. If you sell one apartment and buy a different one, it can cost around 10% of the value of one of the apartments.
The cost to either buy or sell equates very roughly to about one year’s income from the investment.
There are a few other reasons why apartments are a long-term play. One reason is the occasional unexpected sharp lift or decline in values making it a tricky investment strategy trying to pick the right time to buy and sell.
Some of the costs vary depending on who you are (domestic vs foreign buyer), where your buying (which state) and who you are (first home buyer vs investment buyer). To better understand the costs to buy and sell an apartment, let’s assume we are a domestic investor who is either selling or buying a $600,000 apartment in Melbourne and are not a first home buyer.
Almost 100% of the cost of buying are only incurred if you actually buy the apartment. Selling an apartment however has upfront costs making it super important you achieve a sale.
Cost to buy an apartment
Stamp Duty – $31,070
Standing head and shoulders over any other transaction cost of buying or selling is stamp duty. This is called land transfer duty and you can calculate the exact stamp duty in Victoria on a property purchase here.
Conveyancer – $1,250
Buyers need to appoint their own conveyancer to act for them in the formal property transaction as well as advising them on any legal issues.
Buyers advocate – varies
Investment buyers of a $600,000 apartment are unlikely to appoint a buyers advocate but you are well advised to get professional real estate advice on values and the specific property.
Building / pest inspection – $400
Building and pest inspections are more common with houses than apartment, but they are still engaged occasionally and especially with older apartments.
Most people will borrow some of the purchase price so there may be finance costs such as…
- Mortgage application fee – $150
- Valuation fee – $300
- Registration of title fee – $119
- Lenders mortgage insurance – subject to LVR and loan structure.
- Accountants advice – especially if buying in a SMSF
Total – $33,289 (5.5% of the apartment’s value)
Cost to sell an apartment
As highlighted above, there are upfront costs to sell an apartment that are not contingent on achieving a sale. These are the marketing and conveyancing costs but can also include lost rent if you have asked your renter to vacate the apartment during the selling period.
Given these upfront costs, an apartment seller needs to be fully committed to the process. Otherwise, they can finish up incurring the costs but not getting it sold.
Marketing Costs – $6,500
About 80% of marketing costs when selling an apartment are internet or real estate portals like realestate.com.au and domain.com.au. Marketing costs also include things like photography, brochures, social media etc.
Staging – $4,000
Presentation is really important. Staging is the cost to hire furniture and effects in a property to make the photos look great on the internet listings and engage people on a more emotional level during physical inspections. The costs vary on the size of the apartment. Owner occupiers selling their own apartment while they are living there don’t incur this cost.
Conveyancing – $1,250
Your conveyancer will prepare the contract of sale prior to starting the marketing. The contract of sale (and vendors statement or section 32) is important for potential buyers to review all the detail in considering their offer.
Agency fee – 2.2% of the sale price
So now your apartment is in the market, your agent is working feverishly to negotiate a sale so they can be paid. Otherwise, it is no sale – no fee for the agent. Success based fees for agents for property between $500,000 and $1,000,000 is about 2.2% of the sale price.
Total selling costs – $24,950 (4.2% of the apartment’s value)
It is sometimes argued that the lost rent incurred during a selling period is also a cost of sale. While an apartment can be sold while the renter is in the property, it is strongly recommended in the current market to vacate the tenant prior to sale as the overwhelming majority of buyers are occupiers or apartment home buyers.
Like many markets, by the time you realise it is time to buy or sell, everyone else is doing the same thing and the opportunity has passed. That’s why it is important to take a long-term view so you can be in the market before it moves.
If you assume apartment values rise by around 3% per year in normal cycles, then each transaction (i.e. buying or selling) incurs a cost of about 1.5 – 2 years capital growth.
There may be other costs associated with buying or selling like moving costs or repairs to present the apartment in its very best condition.