Should I sell without a realtor? | Cost of selling FSBO | How to sell without a realtor | FSBO paperwork | Best alternative: discount realtors | FAQs
Selling your home without a realtor means you won’t have to pay a listing commission, which in Tennessee averages 2.7% of the sale price. Considering a typical Tennessee house is worth about $291,000, that’s a savings of $7,915.
However, trying to sell a home For Sale by Owner (FSBO) can be challenging. You’ll be responsible for every step of the selling process, which can take up a lot of your time and energy.
In the end, selling a house without a real estate agent isn’t worth it for most homeowners in Tennessee. Many sellers don’t even realize that there are low commission real estate companies that offer professional assistance at reduced prices.
If you’re considering selling a house without a realtor in Tennessee, read on to find out everything you need to know to do it successfully.
✍️ Key Takeaways of FSBO Sales
- Selling without a real estate agent means avoiding a listing commission (2.7% on average in Tennessee). But in exchange for those savings, you’ll have to do everything from advertising your home to completing legal paperwork to negotiating the final deal.
- In most cases, you’ll still need to offer a buyer’s agent commission. 2.7% is typical in Tennessee.
- Selling without an agent is best for experienced sellers or people selling to family or friends.
- For most sellers, there are better cost-saving options that will net you more money and provide professional support.
Should I sell my house without a realtor?
Selling a house for sale by owner in Tennessee comes with many pros and cons. While it’s not recommended for everyone, FSBO can help experienced home sellers save on commission—but only if they know what they’re doing.
✅Selling your home without a realtor might be right for you if…
- You want to save on commission
- You have plenty of time to take on the responsibilities of a real estate agent
- You already have a buyer lined up
- You’re in a hot seller’s market and you have a desirable home
🚫 Selling without a realtor might not be right for you if…
- You don’t have a lot of free time
- You’ve never sold a home in Tennessee
- You want to sell for market value – or higher
If you’re still not sure, check out our thorough guide to selling FSBO to help you decide. If you’re open to other options, some low-commission real estate companies, like Clever Real Estate, allow you to work with a top local real estate agent at half the typical cost.
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.
7 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 your home ready to sell
If you’re wondering how to sell a house by owner in Tennessee, the first step is getting it prepped for listing photos and showings.
Start with these simple tasks:
- Update small but visible items around the house
- Fix dings, scratches, and holes
- Apply a fresh coat of paint
- Thoroughly clean inside and out
- Trim any hedges or trees
- Add new mulch if it’s spring or summer
Large repairs require a bit more decision-making. An expensive fix may not pay off from a financial standpoint, but big issues with a home make it more difficult to sell. Decide if the benefit of fixing a major item around the home is worth the cost and time — alternatively, you could always offer funds for the buyer to repair the issue themselves.
When your house is all set to sell, arrange your furniture and decor in a way that flatters your home and take listing photos. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, you can pay a professional. Photographers average $140 in Tennessee and home stagers charge around $1,529.
If your home needs too much work to sell to a typical buyer, you might consider selling to a cash buyer. You can quickly compare cash buyer offers against your home’s value on the open market with Clever Offers. Try it for free with no obligation.
2. Price your home accurately
A big pitfall in selling your Tennessee FSBO is mispricing it. FSBO sellers can mistakenly set a listing price based on how much money they’re hoping to make rather than what the market will support.
Pricing a home too low leaves money on the table. Pricing too high often results in extra time on the market, decreased buyer interest, and eventually lowering the sale price anyway. In fact, the National Association of Realtors reports that realtor-sold homes sell for 5 to 26% more than FSBO sellers get for comparable houses.
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.
» LEARN: Should I get an appraisal before selling?
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.
3. 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:
🥇 Results MLS: Best for inexperienced sellers
🥈 For Sale Martin Properties: Best for homes in hot markets
🥉 Tennessee Flat Fee MLS: Best for rock-bottom pricing
Read our in-depth guide to Tennessee’s flat fee MLS companies to decide which one works best for you.
Don’t forget to include a buyer’s agent commission (BAC) in your listing
By offering a buyer’s agent commission (also called a buyer’s agency fee), you’ll have more buyers knocking at your door with more (and better) offers.
While you won’t have to pay a listing fee as a FSBO seller in Tennessee, we still recommend you offer a competitive buyer’s agent commission in your home listing. In Tennessee, the average BAC is about 2.7% of your home’s sale price.
While it may be tempting to forgo this commission to save, that decision could cost you. A competitive BAC incentivizes buyer’s agents to bring their buyers to your home and do their part throughout the transaction. Without a BAC, the buyer’s agent would be working for free (not too enticing, huh?).
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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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:
- Mortgage underwriting
- Property title search
- Final walkthrough
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.
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 are willing to work for a reduced commission rate. Sellers can save thousands while still receiving assistance from an expert local agent.
» READ: The Best Discount Real Estate Brokers in Tennessee
For discount broker services, we highly recommend our friends at Clever! Clever pre-negotiates with top agents to offer you low commission rates without compromising on service quality.
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: What’s Fair in 2022?: 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.
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