Recently, the popularity of flat-fee MLS listing services has soared among cost-conscious home sellers — particularly those selling For Sale By Owner (FSBO) — looking for opportunities to save and boost their margins on the sale.
The problem is that when you work with a flat-fee MLS listing service, MLS access is the only thing you get — the value ends there.
In contrast, when you work with a full-service agent they help with staging, professional photography, listing descriptions tailored to what buyers in your market and price range are looking for. Additionally, they’ll handle showings and open houses on your behalf, field offers, negotiate, help with paperwork, closing, and more.
Obviously, the full-service agent wins in terms of value, but for many sellers, it comes down to an issue of price. What many don’t realize, however, is that it’s possible to get the best of both worlds — that is, all of the beneficial services and support outlined above, but for a fraction of the traditionally associated cost.
Clever partners with local, full-service agents from major brands and regional brokerages (Keller Williams, RE/MAX, Century 21, etc.) who have agreed to list and sell our clients’ homes for a flat fee of $3,000 — or 1% if the home sells for more than $350,000.
If you’d like to learn more about how Clever’s service compares to that of a flat-fee MLS — particularly cost vs value — fill out our online form.
One of our team members will be in touch to answer your questions and connect you with a top-rated, local Partner Agent for a no-obligation consultation.
Alternatively, if you’d like to learn more about flat-fee MLS listing services, read our the below and make the decision for yourself.
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 buyer’s agents in the area.
Alternatively, Clever can connect you with an experienced real estate agent who will provide all of the above services for an affordable, flat rate — enter your zip code in the form below to find a Clever Partner Agent near you.
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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 listing, and will often lower their offer to account for the savings they know 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’re interested in getting additional services and benefits but still saving on commission, Clever can help. We’ll connect you with a top-rated, full-service agent in your area who will list and sell your home for a fraction of their typical fee.
>>Learn More: Low-Commission, Full-Service Real Estate Agents
What Are the Benefits of a Flat-Fee MLS Service?
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.
When two agents assist with a sale — i.e., a listing and buyer’s agent — the typical commission fee is 6%, which is split between the two.
When you use a flat-fee listing service, you save about 2-3% of that typical commission fee; however, you have to handle every aspect of the selling process on your own.
When you work with Clever, you’ll save between 1-2%; however, you get the exact same quality and array of services that you would with a traditional, full-price listing agent.
>>Learn More: Full Service for a 1% Listing Fee
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 seven 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?
Of course, it depends on your specific situation, but for most sellers, it’s always better to work with a discount broker than a flat-fee MLS listing company.
Selling a home is an incredibly complex, high-stakes process. As such, it’s always best to opt for as much assistance and support as you can afford.
>>Learn More: What is the Best Discount Broker in 2019?
If you’re looking for the maximum cost vs value option, consider Clever Real Estate.
Clever will connect you with a top-rated, local real estate agent who has agreed to list and sell your home for a fraction of their typical rate — a flat fee of $3,000, or 1% if the home sells for more than $350,000.
All Clever Partner Agents are full-service realtors, meaning that in addition to helping you list and market your home, they’ll guide you through every step of the home-selling process — from home valuations and pricing all the way through closing.
Want to learn more? Fill out our online form and a Clever representative will reach out to answer your questions and connect you with a top-rated, local agent for a no-obligation consultation.