Selling a home without a realtor (also called for sale by owner, or FSBO) can save you thousands in listing agent fees — which in Tennessee average 2.7% of the sale price.
A FSBO sale makes particular sense when you already have a buyer and don’t need to list and market your home. It can also work if you’re an experienced home seller with a solid support network, like a realtor friend who can help price and list your home and a lawyer who can draw up the contract.
FSBO homes have lower median sale prices than homes sold with an agent,and they’re prone to sit on the market longer. A survey of recent home sellers found that those who sold without a realtor were nearly twice as likely as traditional sellers to wait at least three months for an acceptable offer.
While we don’t recommend the FSBO route for every seller, many people have had success selling FSBO. FSBO sales made up approximately 7% of home sales in 2022.
If you do decide to sell without a realtor, here are a few approaches you can take.
Options for selling without a realtor
1. Get a cash offer from an investor
If you need to sell fast without a realtor, you can usually get the quickest offers from investors. Investors include national brands like We Buy Houses and local house flippers. They can usually make offers on the spot and close in as few as 7–14 days.
A key benefit of investors is that they can purchase homes that most buyers either aren’t interested in or can’t get traditional funding for. (Most mortgage lenders won’t finance homes in severe disrepair.) Investors are also adept at handling tricky situations, such as pre-foreclosure, problem tenants, or debt-related property liens.
However, if you want the maximum price for your home, you probably won’t get it from an investor.
Investors earn a profit by purchasing homes at bargain prices — usually no more than 70% of fair market value — then fixing them and selling or renting them for market value. However, some investors can offer 80–90% or more through lesser-known options like novation agreementsand seller financing
Any honest investor will tell you that you’ll get more for your home by listing it with an agent. But if you feel like you’re running out of options, an investor can get you cash quickly — with no added fees for repairs or closing costs.
When should you consider selling to a cash buyer?
Selling to a cash buyer makes the most sense when:
- You’re willing to sacrifice equity to sell quickly
- Your home requires extensive repairs you can’t afford
- You’re dealing with a difficult situation, such as pre-foreclosure or problem tenants
- You inherit a property in poor or outdated condition
How can you get the most cash for your house?
When selling your house for cash, you’ll get the best outcome by seeking competing cash offers from multiple buyers. You can do this on your own, with the help of a realtor, or through a free service like Clever Offers.
The amount you get for your home will depend on your property and situation, as well as the type of agreement you make with an investor.
Options like novation agreements or mortgage assumptionscan get you more than the standard cash offer for your home. But you’ll need to have some flexibility with your selling timeline — or be willing to get paid over time instead of all at once.
2. Sell to an iBuyer
iBuyers like Offerpad and Opendoor promise a quick, hassle-free home sale.
Like investors, iBuyers make an initial cash offer based on the property details you provide and can close in as little as a week or two — no showings, negotiations, or home prep required.
In exchange for this convenience, iBuyers tend to offer 5–10% below market value and charge service fees of about 5%. They also make deductions for repairs, lowering offers by at least another 1–2%.
It’s free to request an offer from an iBuyer. If you decide to move forward, the iBuyer sends an inspector to look over your home and document any visible repairs. After the inspector’s assessment, you receive a final offer reflecting any deductions for repairs.
Many homeowners have been happy with the process of selling to an iBuyer. But recent reviews from Opendoor and Offerpad note that final offers are sometimes dramatically lower than initial estimates — even by as much as $100,000.
If you accept the final offer, the iBuyer handles the paperwork and closes on your preferred timeline — anywhere from 8–90 days, depending on the company. You don’t pay any out-of-pocket closing costs, since everything is deducted from your offer.
3. Hire a flat fee MLS listing service
If you list your home without a realtor, a flat fee MLS listing service can help you increase your listing’s visibility without breaking the bank.
While realtors charge 2.5–3% to sell your home, a flat fee MLS company can list your home for a few hundred dollars. And just like with a regular listing, your property is visible to buyers on popular real estate sites like Zillow and Redfin.
You still handle plenty of the selling process on your own, including pricing, photography, staging, showings, and negotiations. You’re also in charge of vetting offers and verifying buyers’ financing.
And you probably still need to offer a 2–3% buyer’s agent commission, or else you risk buyers going elsewhere. Most buyers won’t like having to pay their agent out of pocket, especially when other sellers are willing to cover their realtor fees.
If you’re mainly considering a flat fee MLS company to save money — and aren’t familiar with the process — you’ll find much better overall value with a discount realtor.
4. Hire a real estate attorney
If you already have a buyer, you may only need to hire a real estate attorney to handle paperwork and closing.
An attorney won’t negotiate the price or the terms of a sale, but they’re uniquely qualified to give legal advice related to your home sale.
For example, a real estate lawyer can:
- Draw up a purchase agreement based on terms you and the buyer agreed on
- Make amendments to a contract after inspections or further negotiations
- Advise you on the best approach for complicated legal issues, like selling a home with a deceased owner or splitting proceeds after a divorce
- Look for loopholes in a purchase agreement and advise you on closing them
- Complete a title search and resolve any issues
- Prepare a statement of the transaction fees you’ll pay at closing
- Draft the deed and other documents required for closing
- Oversee the closing process, including recording the deed with the appropriate county official
For a real estate transaction, an attorney may charge a flat fee or an hourly rate. Fixed rates for a straightforward home sale — including contracts and closing — can cost $500–2,000. Hourly rates can be $150–600. More complex transactions can end up costing several thousand dollars.
If you’re not sure about selling without a realtor, check out our thorough guide to selling FSBO to help you decide. If you’d like to explore other cost-saving options, consider highly rated discount real estate companies, like Clever Real Estate, that allow you to work with a top local real estate agent at about half the typical cost.
8 steps to sell a home in Tennessee without a realtor
Selling a home without a realtor involves many of the same steps as selling with one, except you’re on your own. To learn more about the basic steps to sell, read our simple, 12-step guide to selling a house.
For Tennessee FSBO sellers, here’s what you need to know.
1. Get familiar with the FSBO process
Regardless of how you choose to sell FSBO, you should familiarize yourself with the practical and legal requirements of selling a house in Tennessee.
For example, Tennessee home sellers must complete a Residential Property Condition Disclosure notifying buyers about any defects that may affect the home’s value or livability. The form also includes information about the general condition of the home, including its major systems and appliances.
You should provide disclosures to the buyer before signing a contract.
If you hire a lawyer, they can help you know which documents to prepare. Some flat fee MLS companies also provide legal paperwork required by the states they operate in.
2. Get your home ready to sell
If you’re planning to list your house, the next step is preparing your home for photos and showings. This means making sure everything is updated and in great shape to make a good impression on buyers.
Common preparation tasks include:
- Replacing light bulbs and broken fixtures
- Making small repairs
- Ensuring everything is up to code
- Shampooing carpets and deep cleaning
- Applying a new coat of paint
- Improving the landscaping
Strive for a clean, decluttered look when prepping your home for sale. You want the buyer to imagine living there, so many realtors recommend sticking to neutral paint colors and removing personal items.
Avoid making costly upgrades unless they affect the home’s ability to sell. Old, stained carpet or a leaky roof could scare away buyers, so you should address those problems. But you probably won’t get your money back by adding a new porch or swimming pool.
When you’re comfortable with how your home looks, stage it and take listing photos. Realtors especially recommend staging for luxury properties and homes that may need help getting buyers to look past their flaws.
You can do the staging and photography yourself or hire them out. Professional photographers average $140 in Tennessee, and home stagers charge around $1,529.
3. Price your home accurately
When selling a house in Tennessee without a realtor, be very careful about choosing a list price. This task is something half of recent FSBO sellers struggled to get right. Err on the side of listing your house either at or slightly below market value.
Often, high list prices result in more time on the market, lost buyer interest, and the seller lowering the asking price before actually achieving a sale. A more competitive list price can lead to a lot more showings and interest from buyers, possibly sparking a bidding war and significantly driving up the price.
According to research from Collateral Analytics and the National Association of Realtors, FSBO sellers make anywhere from 5% to 26% less on their homes than realtors with comparable listings.
Use at least one of the following pricing strategies to ensure you get the most out of your home sale.
Get a comparative market analysis (CMA)
One of the most common methods for determining a list price for a home is called a comparative market analysis (CMA). This involves searching for local, recently sold homes similar to yours (called “comps”) and using their sale prices to zero in on a likely sale price for your home.
Traditional realtors run some form of this analysis anytime they recommend a listing price to clients, but you can emulate their process by doing the analysis yourself.
You may get a more unbiased opinion by asking a friend or family member to do this for you. Or, you can work with a flat fee MLS company for a more professional assessment.
Hire an appraiser
An appraisal is a formal, professional opinion of your property’s value. A licensed appraiser will visit your home in person to evaluate its size, condition, materials, amenities, and the surrounding neighborhood before producing a detailed report of their findings.
Appraisals are typically more reliable than CMAs because they’re more involved – that’s why banks and lenders rely on them to approve financing for mortgages.
This would be a more expensive option than working with a flat fee MLS company or doing a CMA yourself, but the $300 to $435 you’d pay an appraiser could be well worth it.
When you set your price, find out if you’ll be liable for capital gains tax on the expected profit from selling your home. Often sellers can avoid this tax if they lived in the home for the past 2 years and don’t make too much money from the sale, but it’s best to know in advance if you need to plan for this.
4. List and market your home
Most advertising regulations are written for brokers and agents, but you should still read them when selling your Tennessee FSBO home to ensure you’re not breaking any rules.
To maximize outreach while saving money, the best way to get started is to put your listing on free FSBO websites like:
- Zillow and Trulia’s FSBO section
- Facebook Marketplace
Consider paid sites for FSBO sellers as well, but don’t feel obligated to pay that fee if you don’t think it’s worth the cost. Word of mouth, yard signs, and free websites may be sufficient for FSBO sellers in certain hot markets.
If you want maximum exposure, think about working with a Tennessee flat fee MLS company.
Tennessee flat fee MLS companies
Flat fee MLS companies were created to help FBSO sellers list their homes on their local multiple listing service (MLS) – a database of all homes for sale that can only be accessed by licensed real estate agents. It’s also the source of all listings on popular sites like Zillow, Realtor.com, and Redfin, which most buyers browse for new homes.
As a broker, a flat fee MLS company can get your home on the MLS for a single, flat fee, without acting as your full-service agent.
In Tennessee, a flat fee MLS listing will cost you about $80 to $1,000. Our top picks for companies in Tennessee are:
Read our in-depth guide to Tennessee’s flat fee MLS companies to decide which one works best for you.
Required Tennessee seller disclosures
In Tennessee, sellers are required to share a seller disclosure form with interested buyers unless the buyer waives that right. These disclosure forms include the address and age of your home, its amenities and condition, and a warning to the buyer of any known material defects of the house.
To avoid legal issues or deals falling through, don’t lie or intentionally omit information on these forms.
Along with that, federal law requires all sellers to provide a Lead-based Paint Disclosure for all homes built prior to 1978.
Share your disclosures with buyers by attaching them to your listing, emailing them to prospective buyers, or making hard copies available at showings.
5. Manage showings on your own
Planning and organization are the keys to success during the showing process. You need a way to manage appointments for multiple parties that accommodates your schedule and theirs. Tools like Doodle or the ShowingTime app can be helpful, but even a Google Calendar can work.
You should also keep a separate file for all emails with prospective buyers and their agents.
When it’s time to schedule showings, we recommend the following tips:
- Turn on all the lights inside and out
- Freshen the house up with subtle candles or air fresheners
- Set out carpets or plastic to keep your carpets clean
- Schedule showings on the same day for convenience
- Be prepared to answer questions immediately after showings
Since some buyers are uncomfortable touring a home with the owner present, we recommend you leave the home during showings. Lockboxes are handy for letting realtors in without being on-site.
If there are any documents you want the buyers to see, put them in an easy-to-find place like countertops or a table near the entryway.
6. Review and negotiate offers
When buyers are ready to make an offer on your Tennessee FSBO, the contract will typically come in the form of a Purchase and Sale Agreement. If you receive multiple offers, you can evaluate them and respond individually — but don’t accept more than one — or you can request each buyer submit their highest and best offer by a certain date.
Although an attorney is not required to complete a real estate transaction in Tennessee, you should hire one if you are confused by any part of the purchase offers. These can be complicated documents, and it’s very important you understand the implications of all the terms before signing.
Pay special attention to the following items in the purchase offers:
- Purchase price
- Conventional financing versus cash offers
- Pre-approval amount if applicable
- Earnest money amount
- Closing timeline
- Seller credits
- Expectations related to repairs
A real estate attorney can not only help you with understanding and comparing offers, but they can also assist you in strategizing how to negotiate terms to get the highest sale price possible.
If there are other aspects of the deal that you care about, like a specific closing date or not being responsible for repairs, you can negotiate those as well.
7. Allow the buyer to conduct due diligence
After a real estate contract for your Tennessee FSBO is signed, the buyer’s due diligence period begins. The purchase agreement should specify what precautionary actions the buyer plans to take as well as deadlines.
For traditionally financed homes, the following are the most common stages to due diligence:
Cash buyers can forego some or all of these steps if they want, but it will be clear in the purchase agreement.
Should the due diligence expose any unknown problems with the house, you may need to renegotiate terms to accommodate this new information. If you can’t find an agreeable compromise, the buyer can walk away without consequence.
If you want to cancel the deal for any reason other than those approved in the purchase agreement, you should talk it over with a real estate attorney first.
Next, you’ll proceed to closing if both parties are still satisfied with the deal.
The buyer’s title company or real estate attorney typically conducts your closing appointment. The date of the appointment should be specified in the purchase agreement.
In most cases, you and the buyer will attend the closing in person and spend most of the time going over paperwork, including a closing statement. This packet accounts for every aspect of the transaction and provides a final closing amount the buyer must pay you.
You’ll sign a bunch of documents and complete the transfer of title before wrapping things up. Since Tennessee is what is known as a “wet funding” state, you’ll receive the proceeds of your sale on the day of closing, either via check or wire transfer.
Cost of selling a house without a realtor in Tennessee
Below, you’ll find a list of prices for common services you might want to consider if you decide to sell without a realtor. However, know that if your home is in need of repairs or is in a buyer’s market, you might need to spend a lot more to prep and market your property.
💸 Common costs for FSBO sellers
|Appraisal||$370 to $445||To price your home more accurately|
|Photography||$159||To compete with homes listed by agents|
|Staging||$1,529||To stand out to local buyers|
|Real estate attorney||$150 per hour||To assist with paperwork, contracts, and legal requirements|
|Flat fee MLS listing||$100 to $500||To get listed on the MLS|
|Buyer’s agent commission||2.7% of sale price||To compensate the agent that represents the buyer (it’s customary for the seller to pay)|
|Realty transfer tax||$0.37 per $100 of sale price||To pay the state of Tennessee for the title transfer|
On average, it costs 7.5% of the home price to sell by owner and about 10% of the home price to sell with a real estate agent. However, the amount you’ll actually save will depend on repairs you need to make, concessions, and other expenses.
Use our calculator to get an idea of how much you can expect to spend if you sell without a realtor.
If you’re considering selling without a realtor in Tennessee, check out our friends at Clever Real Estate. Clever eliminates all the hassles and headaches of FSBO while helping you pay less than you would for a traditional realtor.
In Tennessee, sellers pay an average of 2.7% to a listing agent. Considering the median home value in Tennessee is $291,000, that amounts to $7,915. But with Clever, you can sell with a top local agent for just 1.5%, letting you keep more of your home’s equity in your pocket.
For sale by owner paperwork in Tennessee
Here’s a list of the Tennessee paperwork you’ll need to sell your home without a realtor.
- Seller Disclosure Form
- Lead-Based Paint Disclosure
- Flood Risk Disclosure
- Tennessee Purchase and Sale Agreement
Not finding what you’re looking for? Check out our comprehensive list of paperwork for selling your house without a realtor.
Best alternative: Work with a discount broker
For many people, trying to sell without an agent isn’t worth the hassle. If you think you’ll need some help along the way, a discount broker is a good alternative.
Discount brokers are full-service real estate agents who offer reduced commission rates. Sellers can save thousands while still receiving assistance from an expert local agent.
For discount broker services, we highly recommend Clever Real Estate. Clever pre-negotiates with top agents to offer you low commission rates without compromising on service quality. Other reputable discount brokers include Redfin and Ideal Agent.
Frequently asked questions
Is Tennessee a buyer beware state?
No, the state Tennessee has strict disclosure laws for sellers. Sellers must tell buyers about all known material defects of the property.
Do I need to hire a real estate attorney to sell a house in Tennessee?
No, sellers aren't required to hire an attorney for closing in Tennessee. However, it can be a smart move to have legal advice when you're reviewing offers or filling out paperwork.
Still have questions about selling your Tennessee home? Check out these additional resources to learn more:
Average Real Estate Commission in Tennessee: Even if you end up selling your home on your own, you should still offer commission to your buyer’s agent. Learn what real estate agents in Tennessee expect to earn on an average sale here!
Top We Buy Houses Companies in Tennessee REVEALED: If you need to sell your property as quickly as possible, a We Buy Houses company could be a good option for you. Find out which Tennessee companies could offer you the best deals for your house.
How to Sell Your House — The Ultimate Guide: Our guide breaks down the process of selling a house in 12 steps. We discuss how to find and choose a realtor, list your home for sale, review and negotiate offers, close, and calculate capital gains tax.