The MLS (multiple listing service) is the single most important tool for discovering and marketing real estate listings. You need to be a licensed Realtor to use one, so if you are selling your home on your home, you will need to partner with a Realtor for access, usually for a small fee. When you make your listing, be sure that it’s catchy and has great photos.
When you want to sell your home, you have many options. One of them is to create a real estate listing with an MLS database. This way, it’s easier for potential buyers to find you.
What is an MLS?
MLS is industry speak for a multiple listing service. These services are the main way that Realtors find listings for their clients to look at, as well as get the word out about a home they are trying to sell.
There are many different MLS systems across the United States. Different real estate agents and their regional trade associations operate each different one. These real estate websites function as the single most important communication tool between all of these local agents. They are an online gathering place and a space to easily exchange information about listings.
This is because every single day, members will post new listing into the MLS database and that information will in turn flow out to all of the agents and brokers who are members.
How do you list your house on an MLS?
Here is a step-by-step guide to selling your own home via a multiple listing service:
1. Pick an MLS.
The very first thing you have to do when you want to sell your home on your own is to pick the local MLS to list your home on. While you can certainly list your home in multiple systems, there is likely to be some overlap which might not make it entirely worth it.
2. Partner with a broker.
To list a home on an MLS, you need to be a licensed real estate broker. This is because you must also join your local Realtor association and the National Association of Realtors. In order to do this, you must present a license.
So, the average homeowner cannot simply pop their home into one of these services. However, typically, you can partner with a local agent who would be willing to pop your listing onto the service for a flat fee. This is called a flat fee MLS.
If you do this, however, you need to be very careful about the wording on the contract you sign. For example, you need to know if you are simply paying your broker a one-time flat fee, or if you are entering into an open listing agreement.
An open listing agreement is when a seller attempts to find a buyer on their own, but still gives the listing to a few agents to let them try their luck as well. If the buyer’s agent finds a purchaser, the seller pays commission to that agent. If the seller locates a buyer on their own, then no commission is owed.
If you can’t find a listing agent who will just list the home on the MLS without an agreement, then you still have a few options.
You can list your house for sale on Craigslist, Zillow, or Trulia. You can create your own social media ads. You can hold open houses. You can advertise in the local paper. You can even put a sign in your front yard. However, none of these are going to be as effective as a home listed on the MLS.
3. Craft the perfect listing.
After you decide that you want to sell your home on your own and find an agent who is willing to place your listing into an MLS, you actually need to create the listing.
Making the perfect real estate listing is definitely an art form that takes practice. Don’t just throw something together last minute and pop it up onto the internet. You want to put some time and effort into making your listing stand out, especially since you don’t have the expert eye of a real estate agent to do it for you.
You will want to take a step back and really think about what it is that makes your home truly special. Is it the location? The way that natural light impacts the home? The swimming pool? The number of bedrooms?
You’ll start by crafting an eye-catching headline. For example, if a home has all of the qualities we just listed, you might write something like:
MASSIVE well-lit home in safe neighborhood with bonus swimming pool.
Studies show that capital letters in just the right place can really entice a reader. Once you have the headline down, write a few short paragraphs highlighting the special features of your home.
Then, consider hiring a photographer to take professional realty photos for you. If you truly want to do everything yourself, then make sure that your photos are at least high resolution and well lit.
4. Set a realistic price.
The key to a good home sale is a good sale price.
When you put your home on an MLS, you’ll need to set your asking price. This can be one of the trickiest parts of the whole process. We recommend working with a certified home appraiser to come up with a fair price. However, if you decide to set your own price, don’t list your home like you’re trying to sell it at a store.
For example, everyone knows that $99,999 actually means $100,000 and is a marketing gimmick. This is especially true if you use an MLS. This is because if someone searches for homes under $100,000 then they will see your listing. But if they look for homes from $100,000 to $150,000 they won’t. So, to maximize exposure, price your home properly.
5. Include your contact information.
If a potential buyer likes your listing, it’s important that they have a good way to be able to contact you. Be sure that your listing includes a current phone number and email address. To avoid spam, perhaps consider creating an email specifically set up to handle the correspondence for selling your house.
Either way, have a clear way to contact you and, once people start to reach out, make sure to be responsive!
Why would you want to list your house on your own?
Many homeowners choose to list their home on their own in an attempt to save money on agent’s fees and costs. They prefer doing the work themselves so they don’t have to pay the commission.
Or maybe they had had a bad experience with Realtors in the past, or they feel like they simply know enough about real estate now to be fine without a professional guiding them through the process.
Are there any good alternatives to selling your house on your own?
Yes! Because most people choose to forego using an agent to sell their home because of price restrictions, one of the best-kept secrets of the agency is a flat fee agent!
While the typical real estate agent takes a 6% commission from the seller at closing (to split with the buyer’s agent, of course) flat fee agents charge one affordable set price for the same services.
So, if you sold your home for $100,000 as mentioned above, you would pay $6,000 in commission. However, if you used a flat fee agent like Clever, you would only pay $3,000 – an immediate savings of 50%! And, of course, the more you sell your house for, the more money you get to take home with you on closing day.
Flat free agents are the perfect answer for people who would prefer to sell their house on their own, but maybe don’t feel comfortable without a professional’s guidance.