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6 FAQs About Multiple Listing Services for Home Sellers

For home sellers, getting access to the top listing databases is vital. If your home isn’t listed where buyer’s agents are looking, it’s going to be hard to sell it. With the help of an experienced, local agent, you can get your home listed without having to pay through the nose.
For home sellers, getting access to the top listing databases is vital. If your home isn’t listed where buyer’s agents are looking, it’s going to be hard to sell it. With the help of an experienced, local agent, you can get your home listed without having to pay through the nose.

All across the country, real estate experts will tell you that it can take dozens of viewings to sell a home. With every seller trying to outdo their neighbor, it’s going to take more than just a For Sale sign on your lawn. Agents, buyers, and sellers alike rely on multiple listing services to list, locate, and promote properties.

If it’s time to sell your home, you want to get your listing in front of people who are ready and eager to buy. That starts with connecting with a real estate agent who can get your home on the MLS.

Here are six things you should know about Multiple Listing Services before you put your home on the market.

1. What does multiple listing services mean?

Multiple listing services (MLS) is a service that real estate brokers rely on as a database of homes currently listed for sale in an area. Affiliated brokers update it regularly for the mutual benefit of brokers in a region. Listing and selling brokers benefit by working together and sharing information to ensure everyone gets more commissions.

The benefit of an MLS is that it gives sellers more exposure and give buyers more options. They also level the playing field because brokerages of all sizes can get access it to compete.

2. Can you get on the MLS without a realtor?

The MLS is a protected resource, created and maintained by realtors. It’s not open to the public, which is challenging for sellers who want to avoid paying commission fees and to sell their home on their own. Listing your home for sale by owner, or FSBO, means paying no commission but missing out on what an agent can offer — including access to the MLS.

The only way to get on the MLS is to pay for a flat-fee MLS listing through a real estate company. While they might offer a few other small features, what you’re paying for is only to have your home listed by the service. Otherwise, FSBO sellers have to rely on social media, word of mouth, or other online listing services.

3. Are all homes listed on MLS?

Not all homes are listed on the MLS. The majority of all homes for sale will be, however, FSBO sales operate differently. Since FSBO sellers are kept off of the MLS, buyers looking for a FSBO home will have to seek out a specific FSBO directory.

4. Do real estate agents have access to other services?

Aside from the MLS, real estate agents have other services to help out sellers. Each agent pays a membership fee every month to get access to the MLS. For that fee, they’re allowed to post, view, and exchange information about listings on that site.

While it might seem like online public websites would feed the MLS, it’s actually the other way around. Much of what you find on Zillow, Trulia,, and other sites are part of a data feed from the MLS. It’s updated multiple times a day, but still, the MLS can offer more up-to-the-minute data than any other services.

While real estate agents might use other online listing services, they’re going to do more of their work through the MLS. A high percentage of homes on those aggregate websites have already been bought.

5. How do I list on a flat-fee MLS service?

Using a flat-fee MLS service requires a bit of legwork. First, you have to search for the best provider who works in your region, as there are different MLS servicing different areas. Then you’ll have to sign up and fill out some paperwork or online forms.

You need to take some high-quality photos of your space. Sellers should consider hiring a professional photographer rather than trying to take photos of their home with a smartphone.

Most service providers will have you sign an agreement to detailing how long your home will be on the MLS. Make sure that you’re working with a reputable site so that you can ensure that people will see your listing. Look for reviews from the Better Business Bureau.

6. Does flat-fee MLS listing work?

Hiring a flat-fee MLS listing service provider is different than selling with an agent. Your listing service is going to want the money up front and it might be harder to know whether or not you’ve chosen a good service. Real estate agents rely on reviews and their network to get more work, so they’ll always be sure to leave their clients pleased.

However, there’s a big disparity when it comes to cost. Flat-fee service providers will charge you just a few hundred dollars at most while paying agent commissions will cost you around 6% of the sale price of your home. If the value hasn’t gone up by much, this might eat into the entirety of your profits.

Given that the National Association of Realtors has found selling without an agent can land you just 66% of the value of your home, selling with a realtor is the way to go.

Get Full-Service Access to Multiple Listing Services

If you want to get access to the MLS without having to pay an arm and a leg, you should work with a Clever Partner Agent. Sellers get the full-service real estate experience for just a fraction of the cost of a standard realtor. Partner Agent work for $3,000 on homes over $150,000 or 1% on homes over $350,000.

Homes listed with our Partner Agents are posted to the local MLS and attract vetted buyers from your area. Contact Clever and we’ll put you in touch with an experienced local agent who will ensure that you get the highest price possible on your home.


Andrew Schmeerbauch

Andrew Schmeerbauch is the Director of Marketing at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you top agents to save on commission. His focus is educating home buyers and sellers on navigating the complex world of real estate with confidence and ease. Andrew has worked on projects for the United Nations and USC and has a particular passion for investing and finance. Andrew's writing has been featured in Mashvisor, L&T, Ideal REI, and Rentometer.

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