When it comes to selling a home: marketing your property to all of the potential buyers in your area is one of the most important things you can do to get the home sold quickly. If you’ve decided to sell your home For Sale By Owner (FSBO) and it’s struggling to sell, you might be searching for ways to bring more buyers to your property.

The easiest way to show more potential buyers your home is to list on the MLS, the same service that Realtors use to buy and sell homes.

There are some services that let sellers list their home on the MLS with an agent for a flat fee, without receiving any service.

Listing with these services seems enticing, as they promise to get your home seen without paying a listing agent their traditional fee. But are there risks involved? Do the risks outweigh the benefits? Let’s take a look.

What is a flat fee MLS listing service?

The MLS (or Multiple Listing Service) is the database that real estate agents enter all of their listings in, and use when showing buyers homes. Popular sites like Redfin and Realtor.com pull their data from the MLS, as well as all the major brokerages like Keller Williams, Remax, and Coldwell Banker.

Typically, listing your home on the MLS is a job for a listing agent, but if you’re looking to save some money when selling your home, you can hire a flat fee MLS listing service to put your home on the MLS where it can then be discovered by other house hunters online. These listing services usually charge a flat fee to list your home on the MLS, and that fee is usually substantially less than working with a full-service agent.

What information is included in a flat fee MLS listing?

When you list on the MLS, there are two sections: the portion that is syndicated to sites like Zillow and Trulia, and a section that’s only visible to licensed agents.

If you’re writing your own listing and description for a flat fee MLS company to upload you will usually need to include:

  • Listing Price
  • Square footage
  • Bedrooms and bathroom
  • Heating and cooling information
  • A well-written description that appeals to potential buyers, while being careful not to violate any federal housing, fair housing, or RESPA regulations. Simply put, your description needs to appeal to all parties, and not single out one race or nationality.

You will also need to include the amount of commission offered to a buyer’s agent, special remarks and showing instructions you only want agents to see, and the code for your lockbox (if you have one).

Most importantly, make sure to avoid language like “motivated seller” or any terms that ring with desperation. This will most likely get you plenty of offers, however, many of them will come in far below asking price.

It’s important to note that although all your relevant information is now visible in the MLS, all other efforts to sell your home rest solely on you. The visibility and marketing of your listing are directly affected by your efforts, whether that be advertising on social media, hosting open houses, or reaching out to agents in the area.

Looking for the best of both worlds? Clever offers full-service, discount realtors at a flat fee of $3000 or 1% on any home over $350,000. Fill out your zip code below to find Clever real estate agents in your area!

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Do flat fee MLS listings work?

Paying someone a flat fee to list your home on the MLS absolutely works in the sense that they’ll simply enter in all the required fields online, take their fee, and leave the rest up to you (and chance). While these services occasionally have other offerings such as advertising online or setting up a website for your home, for the most part, you are on your own.

That means that you will be required to do the rest, such as take your own photos of the property before listing, print out your own fliers, post your own signs, host your own open houses, negotiate the price, and see the home through to closing.

Potential buyers will also be able to see that you’ve used a flat fee MLS lister, and will often lower their offer to account for the savings you’re receiving on commission. Without a full-service agent, you might struggle to negotiate on price, as well as repair credits during the inspection.

If you looking to pay a flat rate fee with a full-service agent, instead of just listing your home on the MLS, Clever Real Estate offers local, full-service agents that will list your home for a flat, almost anywhere in the country.

What are the benefits of a flat fee MLS?

If you’re an experienced seller that doesn’t need representation, and you’re willing to do a little legwork to save on commissions, the benefits of a flat fee MLS listing service can seem appealing. Because most home buyers begin their search for a home online, paying for the opportunity to have yours included on most major home search sites means you don’t have to work as hard to advertise for the sale of your home.

Your house will be included on most major home search sites to reach relevant audiences. Using an MLS listing service give you the opportunity to sell your home yourself while still being visible to millions.

Beyond that, using a flat fee MLS listing service means you are able to save (on average) between 2-3% of what your home sells for. This doesn’t mean that you should skip out on offering a 2-3% commission for the buyer’s agent, as an incentive for them to show your home to the buyer. Offering buyer’s agent commission ensures that your home is shown to the right people. And who knows! Maybe you’ll end up selling to an unaffiliated buyer, and get to keep the buyer’s commission as well!

What are the risks with a Flat Fee MLS?

When listing with a flat fee MLS, there are a few things you want to watch out for. The first is to make sure you work with a local MLS listing service. This is important, as there are separate MLS services for different locations.

You want to make sure that your MLS service places your home on the right MLS to be viewed by the people who are looking for a home in your area. You will not be visible to your relevant audience if you list with a service that does not work with your area.

One of the biggest risks of listing with an MLS-only service is the lack of representation. Homes that are listed with a real estate agent tend to sell for more and often have fewer problems getting to close. A professional agent does nothing but sell homes, and the average homeowner only buys and sells once every 7 years. Your home is one of the biggest assets you own, and working with a professional can net you more than selling by owner.

Another big risk is that potential buyers will identify the listing service you’re using, and attempt to lowball you because they know that you’re saving on commissions. Buyers will also know you’re working without an agent and might try and take advantage of you as you don’t have an experienced agent on your side.

If you decide to move forward with a flat fee listing service, it’s imperative that you work with a company that is known for its excellent customer service and has reviews to show it. Excellent customer service means they will provide ways for you to get a hold of them when you have a question or concern about your home selling process– which, unless you’ve done this before, you will. Beyond customer service, make sure your package offers unlimited revisions to your listing to ensure that your home is being presented in the best way possible online.

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Is a discount broker a better alternative than a flat fee MLS listing?

Good question! The answer is: it depends on your situation, but for most sellers the answer is “yes”. Unless you’re a real estate professional that sells homes regularly, it pays to work with an agent who can represent your best interests.

As long as you use a discount broker like Clever Real Estate that offers full-service agents for a discount, you can receive the best of both worlds: placement on the MLS and full representation, while still saving thousands on commissions.

Clever lets you list your home for a flat fee of $3,000 if it’s less than $350,000, or 1% if the home is more expensive. Clever partners with agents from every major brand, as well as top-rated local brokerages to list and sell your home, so potential buyers will have no idea that you’re saving on commissions.

Clever has over 1,500 top-rated agents across the country, and we would love to help you sell your next home and save thousands on commission.

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Clever offers the savings of a flat fee service with the full service of a traditional agent, allowing you to save thousands, and still get professional representation.