How To Sell A House By Owner In Tennessee – Bankrate.com

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Key takeaways

  • Using a real estate agent is not mandatory when selling a home in Tennessee, but doing it yourself requires a significant effort.
  • When you sell by owner, you avoid paying a commission to a seller’s agent. However, you still might need to pay your buyer’s agent.
  • The guidance of a local real estate attorney is important for sellers who aren’t being represented by an agent.

In the Volunteer State, there’s no law requiring you to hire a real estate agent or Realtor to sell your home. You’re always free to find a buyer and complete the transaction on your own in a “for sale by owner” or FSBO sale. Going without a listing agent means you won’t have to pay a listing agent’s commission fee, but there are also major drawbacks to this option, and it will require a lot of work on your part. Here’s how to sell a house by owner in Tennessee, including all the pros and cons to consider.

Selling a house without a Realtor in Tennessee

When you sell a house on your own, it becomes your job to take on all the tasks that a pro agent would normally handle. Here are some of the most essential steps to follow in the FSBO process.

Creating a listing

The most crucial part of your listing will be setting the right asking price. Research the pricing of comps in your area — nearby properties that are comparable in size and features — and take into account factors such as location and market conditions. Be as realistic and objective as you can about how much your house is really worth. It’s hard not to be sentimental about a property that has served as your home, especially if you’ve raised a family there, but try to see the house’s value as a buyer would.

A good listing will also need an engaging description that showcases the home’s key features. Include basics such as the property’s age, square footage and number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and don’t forget any unique amenities, like a swimming pool, a barn or a Smoky Mountains view. Information about the neighborhood, utilities and school district are also important.

Finally, keep in mind that most house-hunters rely heavily on online listings. That means high-quality photos and videos are essential if you want buyers to click instead of scrolling on to the next listing. Investing in professional photography can significantly enhance your property’s appeal and attract more potential buyers.

Marketing effectively

Once your listing is ready, it’s time to market your property. Word of mouth and social media can be helpful here — though be cautious about the information you share online, especially if you still live there.

To reach the most buyers, though, your best bet is to have the home listed in your local MLS, or multiple listing service. This database of for-sale homes is typically only accessible to real estate pros, but there are several companies that will list FSBO properties on the MLS for a fixed fee. In Tennessee, options include Houzeo, List With Freedom, Tennessee Flat Fee MLS and Our Property Team. Listings on the MLS will also appear on popular search platforms like Zillow and Realtor.com.

Marketing includes playing host to interested buyers who want to come see the house in person. Private showings can be a scheduling challenge, so be ready to coordinate multiple appointments and keep everything tidy for walk-ins or last-minute viewings as well. (Be sure to prioritize safety when allowing strangers into your home.)

Locking in a buyer and closing

Hopefully, one (or more) of the buyers who comes to see your home will make an offer. Consider your comfort level with negotiations — you may need to haggle back-and-forth over price, timeline and other specifics of the deal.

Hiring a real estate attorney can be extremely beneficial for FSBO sellers. You’ll want to make sure your contract is well-prepared and legally sound, and real estate deals involve a lot of paperwork that will also require careful attention to detail. An attorney can ensure you are fully protected throughout the transaction, and can help with managing the closing process as well — coordinating the closing will be another task that falls on you in the absence of a Realtor.

Required disclosures for Tennessee home sellers

Selling a property without an agent requires understanding local laws and regulations. One such rule is Tennessee’s disclosure requirements for home sellers: Sellers must provide a completed residential property condition disclosure statement that outlines the condition of the property and any known issues that might affect its safety or livability.

You may also be required to provide disclosure documents regarding lead paint (typically for homes built before 1978), flood risk and, if you’re part of a homeowners association, HOA rules and financials.

Do I need a lawyer to sell my house in Tennessee?

No: Just as you are not legally required to hire a real estate agent to sell a house in Tennessee, you are not required to hire an attorney either. However, navigating local regulations, contracts and disclosure forms can be complex, and errors can have serious financial repercussions. There’s a lot of money at stake in a home sale, and having legal counsel is the best way to safeguard your interests.

Pros and cons of selling a house by owner in Tennessee

For experienced sellers who are confident in their skills, FSBO sales have their advantages. However, they can also present significant challenges, especially for newcomers.

Pros

  • Complete control: Selling your home yourself gives you total authority over all decisions without outside influence. You can manage every aspect of the sale however you wish.
  • Less waiting: An experienced Realtor is likely managing multiple clients at once. FSBO sellers can often speed up the sale process and avoid delays caused by scheduling conflicts and slow response times.
  • Commission savings: An agent’s commission fee typically runs between 2.5 and 3 percent of the home’s sale price. The state’s median sale price in May was $367,000, according to Tennessee Realtors, which means skipping the listing agent saves between $9,175 and $11,010 in commissions.

Cons

  • No professional guidance: Agents are licensed professionals with specialized knowledge of their local markets. Without this expertise, FSBO sellers may struggle with trickier aspects of the selling process, and a mistake can be costly with a transaction this large. Even if you feel very confident, it’s still a lot of work.
  • Smaller buyer pool: Real estate agents have the tools and networks to market properties extensively, attracting a broader range of potential buyers. In contrast, FSBO listings often receive limited exposure, resulting in fewer interested parties.
  • Potentially lower selling price: National Association of Realtors data shows that FSBO homes typically sell for less than those sold with an agent — nearly $100,000 less in 2023, which is far more than you’d save on commissions.

FAQs

  • Yes, but it may not be much. As the homeowner, you’re responsible for making sure property taxes are paid right up until the day your sale closes and ownership changes hands. Tennessee also levies a real estate transfer tax; these are typically paid by the buyer, although the seller may pay them instead depending on the specific contract created. And if you make a very significant profit on your sale — more than $250,000 (or $500,000 if you are married and filing jointly) — you may be responsible for paying federal capital gains taxes on your earnings.

  • A lot of important paperwork is required in a real estate sale, some that you will receive and some that you must provide to the buyer. You’ll need a purchase and sale agreement, which is basically your contract for the deal, and Tennessee law requires you to fill out a disclosure statement about the condition of the property as well. In addition, there will be a closing statement listing all sale-related costs and who pays each expense, the home’s title and deed, and documentation related to the homeowners association (if applicable). If your home still has an outstanding mortgage balance, expect plenty of paperwork related to paying that off as well.

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