Whether you're downsizing or need to grow, selling a house can be complicated. Specific laws in Tennessee govern transactions there, though the process is similar nationwide. To avoid problems later, learn as much as you can before you begin.
Finding an Agent
While some people can handle home sales by themselves from beginning to end, most prefer to work with a professional. Agents can help create listings, show the home to interested buyers, organize paperwork, and more. The Tennessee Real Estate Commission offers help finding an agent, including a search function that will let you verify if someone is licensed.
Listing a Home
There are various listing agreements you can use if you decide to work with an agent. An open listing lets anyone sell the house, but real estate firms don't generally like such deals. Under an exclusive agency listing, you are allowed to sell the house yourself, but otherwise only the firm you sign has the right to sell it. An exclusive right to sell agreement, the most common type used, guarantees your agency is the only one that can sell the home for a set period of time.
Your actual listing will describe the house in detail, such as upgrades and added features, the quality of the neighborhood, schools and nearby parks. Looking at what other homes nearby are selling for can help you set the asking price. You also can check pricing on similar houses in other neighborhoods.
In Tennessee, sellers have to fill out disclosure forms that tell buyers about any flaws that might change their minds about the house, including problems with the foundation or heating system. In fact, the completed disclosure form must be turned over to buyers before a valid purchase agreement can be signed. Owners can get into legal trouble if they know about a problem and don't disclose it.
The good news: There's a potential buyer. The bad news: What the buyer wants to pay is considerably lower than you'd hoped. No problem. In fact, most buyers expect you to make a counteroffer. In addition to the selling price, offers can include appliances, furnishings or repairs.
Once the price is settled, spell it out and other crucial details, such as earnest money and financing, in a purchase agreement. This legally binding document outlines the sales process from offer through closing. Review a sample document to get an idea of what to expect.
Sometimes an inspection will reveal a new problem with the property, but this doesn't mean the deal is off. You and the buyer can renegotiate if you still want to complete the sale. You can perhaps lower the price or agree to pay for some repairs.
Finally, you're ready to close. You and the buyer now sign all paperwork and you turn over keys, plus pay any fees or taxes owed.
Real estate laws in Tennessee are complicated, and each situation is unique. This article is intended only as a general overview. For actual legal consel, contact an attorney in Tennessee who specializes in residential real estate law.