Frequently Asked Questions for Sellers

Can I sell my house myself?

Many people believe they can save a considerable amount of money by selling on their own.  They look at the average commission on a house, and remember stories of friends or relatives who managed to get through the process with seemingly little trouble.  "I’ve seen other people sell their own homes," they say - "so why can't I?"

Right now, about 10% of American homeowners handle their own sales.  But in order to join the ranks of the successful ones, you need to realistically assess exactly what's involved.  The routine parts of the job involve pricing your house accurately, determining whether or not a buyer is qualified, creating and paying for your own advertising, familiarizing yourself with enough basic real estate regulations to understand and prepare a real estate contract, and coordinating the details of a closing.  The greatest downsides are the fact your house is only on the market when you're home and can show it, and the possibility that a mistake may cost you a lot more than just the money you're trying to save.

The best reason for working with a real estate professional is the enormous amount of information we have at our disposal -- information that can help make your house sell faster and easier, and for a higher price.  As professionals, we know about market trends, houses in your neighborhood, and the people most likely to buy there. We also know how to reach the largest number of people who may be interested in your house, and are trained in areas like screening potential buyers and negotiating with them as well.

Many "For Sale By Owners" who do sell their house successfully on their own admit that they would never do it again because it was not worth the amount of time and energy they had to put into learning the ins and outs of the marketplace.  You may change homes once every 5 years; most good agents will sell over 100 homes in that amount of time.  Professionals do professional work because they have their experience and knowledge backing them up.  Do the smart thing: hire a professional.

Should I make any major home improvements?

Certain home improvements that are useful to almost everyone have been proven to add value and/or speed the sale of houses.  These include adding central air conditioning to the heating system, building a deck or patio, basement finishing, some kitchen remodeling (updating colors on cabinets, countertops, appliances, panels, etc.), and new floor and/or wall coverings, especially in bathrooms.  Improvements that return less than what they cost are generally items that appeal to personal tastes, like adding fireplaces, wet bars, and swimming pools, or converting the garage into an extra room.

The challenge that comes with any home improvement designed to help sell your house is recouping your investment.  There's always the risk of over-improving your house -- that is, putting more money into it than neighborhood prices will support.

So how much is too much?  Professional renovators have found that, no matter how much you improve any given house, you're unlikely to sell it for more than 15% above the median price of other houses in the neighborhood, whether you do $1,000 worth of work or $50,000.  Be sure to ask our opinion about the viability of recouping the cost of any major renovation you have in mind before you start the work.

Should I do the work myself?

If you have the time and talent, do-it-yourself improvements are the most cost-effective way to go.  Painting, wallpapering, replacing cracked trim and old plumbing fixtures -- the difference between work done by a competent amateur and a professional is usually time and money.  Just make sure you don't tackle something you can't handle -- this is no time for "on-the-job training!"  If you're not experienced, it's well worth calling in a professional.

Larger jobs involving mechanical systems (heating, electrical, plumbing, etc.) or work that must meet local building codes are another story.  Even if you or the family handyman know exactly what you're doing, it's not a good idea to engage in this type of work unless you're licensed to do so.  Your efforts could make you responsible for more than you realize if something you worked on goes wrong after you sell.

Should we try to avoid being at home when the house is shown?

You should definitely plan to be out of the house during any open house your agent has scheduled; the same goes for first showings to prospective buyers.  People often feel uncomfortable speaking candidly and asking questions in front of current owners.  You want them to feel as free as possible to picture your house as their "dream home."

Who does the real estate agent work for?

If I explained a complicated legal scenario to a group of good attorneys and ask them how they would handle it, they would most likely respond with, "It depends...who is my client?"  The same goes for real estate agents.  Agency determines who your agent represents.

In Tennessee, most homes are sold with two separate agents - a listing agent and a buyers (or selling) agent.  When you sign an agreement with your agent, they should explain their agency status to you.  When listing your property, Zach Goodyear and Scott Evans works as a Designated Agent for the Seller; in other words, Parks, the brokering firm, designates us as your agent and we are required by law to work for your best interests before anyone else's and obey all lawful instructions from you.