Flat Fee MLS
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14 Things Every Seller Should Know About How Flat Fee MLS Works Before Listing a Home

There are many For Sale By Owner options out there and it can be confusing sorting through it all but flat fee MLS is a great way to save money when selling your home. The key to being successful is to be educated on how it all works and knowing what to look for in an MLS listing company.
So, you're ready to sell your home and are considering a flat fee MLS listing but have lots of questions.
Man Thinking of Listing Their Home Flat Fee
  • Can you effectively sell your home FSBO without hiring a 6% real estate agent?
  • How will you know what price to list your house for?
  • How will you navigate the contracts and disclosures?
  • Will being listed on the MLS help you sell faster?
  • What will your closing costs be?
  • Do you have to offer a certain commission to the buyers' agents to be in the MLS?

Before you decide how to list your home for sale, it's best fully understand the difference between selling "FSBO" vs hiring a 6% agent and why the best option is actually a fusion of the two or a "Flat Fee MLS Listing."


The Basics:

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Since all buyers now have access to search for home listings online, it's less work for listing agents than it once was. Many sellers think Realtors get paid way too much to list a property in the MLS, especially since the majority of the leg work is done by the Buyer's Agent who brings a buyer to the deal. Sellers don't mind paying a fee for professional services but not when it means a commission based on a percentage that stays the same no matter what the sales price is, they feel they may be overpaying for the service rendered.

On the other hand, attempting to sell FSBO and taking on the entire process yourself can be intimidating. As a For Sale By Owner, you must figure out how much your home is worth, find places to market your home, take photos of your property or hire a professional, navigate required state disclosures, choose a title company or real estate attorney, and if an offer comes in, vet the buyers to make sure they are legit and most importantly, negotiate with the buyer(s) or their real estate agent and navigate inspection report issues, appraisal shortfall issues and much more.

This can all be daunting which is why most people choose to list with a real estate agent. But there are now options that allow home sellers to have their cake and eat it too; get the needed exposure and service, but not pay 6%.

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Many people who are ready to sell their home will research other options before hiring a Full Service agent. There are four ways to list a property for sale:

1. Completely FSBO (your property will not be in the MLS)
2. Flat Fee MLS Listing (Limited Service/seller is self-represented)
3. Flat Fee Full Service Listing (Full Service/seller is represented by discount listing Broker)
4. Full Service Traditional Agent (usually around 6% of sales price)

PROs and CONs of the 4 Listing Types:
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FSBO Basic: Free
FSBO Advanced: $79

For Sale By Owner Listing

  • Option to sell directly to a buyer not represented by an agent and pay no commission
  • No MLS exposure
  • No professional guidance
  • Seller in charge of everything
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MLS Express: $69
Silver Plan: $299
Gold Plan: $799

Limited Service Flat Fee MLS Listing
(through GetMoreOffers.com):

  • Flat fee for listing side of commission rather than % amount
  • Option to sell directly to a buyer not represented by an agent and pay no commission
  • Cancel listing agreement anytime without penalty
  • Prolific internet marketing exposure via the MLS
  • You choose commission to offer Buyers' Agents
  • Buyers' Agents know you are offering compensation (published in the MLS) means more showings and possibly more offers
  • Access to disclosures, contracts, and other resources such as CMA (Comparative Market Analysis), showing services, title services, etc.
  • Option to upgrade to higher level of service if needed (Gold and Platinum plans)
  • Must offer compensation to Buyers' Agents in exchange for procuring a buyer
  • Seller is considered "Self-represented" and is in charge of entire process including pricing the home and negotiating offers
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Platinum Plan:
$499 + $2,500 at Close

SEE PROGRAM

Full Service Flat Fee MLS Listing (through GetMoreOffers.com):

  • Flat fee for listing side of commission rather than % amount
  • Option to sell directly to a buyer (for small additional flat fee)
  • Cancel listing agreement with 60 day notice and no cancellation fee
  • Prolific internet marketing exposure via the MLS and custom website
  • You choose commission to offer Buyers' Agents
  • Buyers' Agents cooperation means more showings and possibly more offers
  • Must offer compensation to Buyers' Agents in exchange for procuring a buyer
  • Agent handles everything from listing price valuation, MLS entry, photography, marketing, showing coordination, buyer vetting, negotiations, closing coordination, etc.
  • No obligation to accept a full price offer
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Full Service Traditional Agent Listing:

  • CANNOT sell directly to a buyer and avoid paying a commission (or lower commission)
  • Commission amounts usually range from 4-6%, regardless of sales price
  • Prolific internet marketing exposure via the MLS
  • Agent handles everything from listing price valuation, MLS entry, photography, marketing, showing coordination, buyer vetting, negotiations, closing coordination, etc.
  • Typically a minimum 6 month listing agreement term
  • May owe commission if you do not accept a full price offer

Things To Know Before Listing:

All flat fee companies will differ on how they handle the specifics, but in general, your contact info should be listed in the actual MLS listing.

What many sellers don't know is that no real estate agent or broker is allowed to publish the seller's contact info in the public property description of the MLS for buyers to see. And sites like Realtor.com won't allow the agent to show seller contact info either. This is because the whole system is meant to protect the value of real estate agents. The MLS is supposed to be a closed system benefiting only Realtors. So flat fee listing agents are essentially circumventing this system--and are therefore subject to some limitations.


Some MLS systems have begun the policy of not allowing seller's phone numbers to be entered into MLS; therefore, the MLS flat fee broker plays a very important role. Choose a flat fee broker that has a published policy regarding hours of operation and their particular protocols for the handling of those calls.

The bottom line is that buyer leads and buyers' agents will inevitably end up calling and emailing the listing company. So how that company handles the prospects is really the important thing.

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Things you should ask the flat rate broker about how they handle leads:

1. Is my contact info published in the MLS?
2. Do you pass my leads to me directly or do you use them for another purpose?
3. What about email leads from third-party websites that get sent to the listing agent?
4. How quickly should I expect to receive my leads?

Q:
How long does it take to get listed in the MLS once you have the info about my home?
A:
This should occur within 24 business hours (48 at the latest), given that all required property info and photos of your home have been made available.

Q:
How are buyer leads handled that go to your company instead of me?
A:
All buyer leads from your flat fee listed home should be forwarded to you in a timely manner (within 24 hours).

Q:
Do you sell my leads, use them for your own real estate agents or have any other referral arrangement that pertains to my buyer prospects?
A:
If the company you are listing your home flat fee with doesn't guarantee that they will give your leads to you, you should not list with them.

One reason is that this means you are now depending on the reliability of the listing agent AND the agent they are referring the lead to. What if they drop the ball and don't follow up with the buyer? Will the buyer move on to another house?

The second reason is that if your unrepresented buyer leads are not given to you directly, it means they are getting referred to a buyer's agent who will now require a commission from you to bring you the same buyer that should have been yours in the first place! Now, instead of paying 0% commission to a buyer's agent, you will have to pay whatever you offer in the MLS (usually somewhere around 2% to 3%).

Q:
Is there a cancellation fee if I wish to cancel my flat fee MLS listing?
A:
Not with GetMoreOffers! Only a predatory flat fee company will have any strings attached when it comes to cancelling a basic Limited Service MLS listing (you are self-represented as with our MLS Only, Silver or Gold programs).

A full service flat fee listing may require a notice since more resources have been invested such as our Platinum Flat Fee Full Service Listing Program. With Platinum, you can still cancel at any time with no penalty, but you are required to give a 60-day notice.

Q:
Do you require anything else of me if I wish to cancel my listing?
A:
There should be no stipulations or requirements to cancel your listing. We have heard of some unscrupulous flat fee listing services who require a referral kick-back arrangement in lieu of a cancellation fee. This is ridiculous and unethical.

Q:
Are you a member of my local MLS?
A:

Q:
What are your hours of operation?
A:

Q:
Do you answer your phones live during your hours of operation?
A:
The ideal MLS listing agency will not only post their hours but will also answer calls live every day because home buyers and buyer's agents want instant help. If they don't get immediate assistance during business hours, they may pass up your home.

Also, you as a home seller may need help along the way. One of the most common complaints heard by reliable flat fee listing companies is that when sellers have used less-than-reliable discount brokers to list in the MLS, the company simply wasn't available to take their calls and did not respond in a timely manner.

Q:
How do I make changes to my flat fee listing? Is there an extra fee to do so?
A:
Changes and updates to your MLS listing should be easy to do (ideally online) and for no extra fee. There will typically be some limitations to how many changes you can make per month but price or commission changes should have no restrictions.

Q:
Once I submit a change, how quickly is it updated in the MLS?
A:
A good listing company will make your changes within 24 business hours. At Get More Offers, changes are typically done the same day (excluding weekends and holidays).

Q:
What if I need help or have questions? Will someone be able to assist me?
A:
Often the issue with cheap flat fee listing services is that they don't have the resources to staff people to provide the service necessary to ensure the ball doesn't get dropped. Selling a home is likely one of the largest transactions you'll ever handle. It's a big deal and you need to know that the company who is handling your listing is capable of delivering on promises. Because even though you want to save money on listing your property, it's still important that you realize that even flat rate MLS companies need to perform certain important tasks in order for you to succeed.

All real estate agencies--whether flat fee or full service--will require a listing agreement. An ethical flat rate listing company will allow you to cancel the contract at any time with no penalties.

real estate listing agreement icon

Types of Listing Agreements:

Typically when a contract is signed between a FSBO flat fee seller and a discount broker, the type of agreement used is called "Exclusive Agency" and sometimes with the subclassification of "Limited Service," which means the listing broker is providing limited service to the seller because the seller is handling everything except MLS entry, such as offers, negotiations, contracts, addenda, inspections, and closing. Basically, this home seller is For Sale By Owner but participating with buyers' agents. With Exclusive Agency, no commission will be due to the listing agent at closing so if you find a buyer that is not represented by an agent, you will owe no more to the listing broker beyond what you paid for up front.

If you are selling your house with a flat fee broker who is providing Full Service, the listing agreement will typically be an "Exclusive Right of Sale" contract that may still require you to pay some commission to the listing agent if a buyer is unrepresented by another agent. This is typical in a full service arrangement but you should be cautious of signing an Exclusive Right of Sale agreement as a FSBO-Limited Service seller.

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Purpose of Listing Agreement:

One purpose of a listing agreement is to define the terms and length of agreement the listing will be maintained in the MLS by the discount broker.

Another purpose is to lay out the responsibilities of both parties and make sure all terms are clear. Discount Realtors offering sellers the ability to be "Limited Service" or "self-represented" through their license may have a contract that spells out more detail since they are essentially trusting a seller to keep them in the loop with regard to compliance requirements of the MLS. Flat fee brokers are exposed to more liability because they don't have the involvement in the transaction that they would if they represented the seller fully.

A good example is when it comes to updating listing statuses in a timely manner. Most Multiple Listing Services have strict guidelines with stiff fees associated with them when it comes to reporting status changes. If your home goes under contract and the broker of record (agent who puts your listing into the MLS for a flat fee) doesn't know your property is pending contract and another Realtor reports them for non-compliance, your listing broker can be fined for $500 or more.

For this reason, a flat fee Realtor may choose to include in their listing agreement, a clause that states that if you do not report the status change within X time, the broker has the right to pass along part or all of this fine. Considering what is on the line for the flat fee broker, this is a fair expectation.

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The short answer is yes, you do have to offer something as compensation to the buyers' agents as part of the requirements to list a home in the MLS. Part of the role of the Realtor boards and MLS database is to enforce the payment of commission to a buyer's agent who procures a buyer for a home that is listed by a selling agent and results in a sale.

There is, however, NO requirement as to how much commission must be offered, so this decision should be totally up to you.

An ethical Realtor (flat fee or otherwise) will not pressure a home seller to offer a specific amount of compensation. Many times, home sellers will ask whether a buyer's agent will avoid the showing of their home if they don't offer the "typical" amount of commission.

The truth is, buyers don't see the commissions stated in the MLS and buyers are the ones who drive showings. Since buyers have access to the internet and can see homes listed in the MLS, they call the shots. If they ask their agent to show them a property they saw online and the agent declines due to not enough commission, how well do you think that will go over with the buyer?

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Your MLS listing company should provide all necessary disclosures like the Seller's Disclosure, Lead Based Paint Disclosure (homes built before 1978), contracts and other documents you may need when selling your home. With Get More Offers, these forms will be accessible to you once you are a user via your account dashboard.

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In general, agents may not even realize you are a flat fee seller unless they really scrutinize the listing to see what the listing type is. Even if they do, they may not see that as a bad thing. Savvy agents know that self-represented For Sale By Owner sellers may not be experienced and may actually be at a disadvantage when up against the agent who has lots of experience.

FSBOs can unknowingly reveal information in casual conversation with the seasoned buyer's agent who then uses that info against them later. An experienced buyer's agent may have dozens of real estate transactions under their belt and while working with a by owner seller may cause them a little extra work, many welcome the opportunity to strong-arm the inexperienced seller.

Be diligent when representing yourself and be sure you study up on the dos and don'ts before you interact with buyers' agents.


Preparing To Sell Your Home

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should you remodel your home before listing graphic

The short answer is no. If your motivation for remodeling your house is that you think it means you'll garner more for the sale of your home, it's likely not the right decision. If you want to enjoy the perks of a remodeled home, do it long before selling and at least have time to enjoy those improvements and upgrades. Sinking money into your house just for someone else to enjoy will likely not make you money and will most certainly cost you time and aggravation.

1. Register and pick your MLS listing plan

2. Enter your home information online

Select the property type, enter details about the home, set your price, set a start date for the listing to go active, sign the electronic listing agreement and upload photos

3. Same day entry in the MLS*

Our staff will know when your property is ready for activation in the MLS. We will review all information and list your home on your local MLS (Multiple Listing Service). Your home will then be published on every major real estate website like, Zillow, Realtor.com and Trulia in addition to hundreds of other sites.

4. Show your home

Our automated showing request software will communicate directly between you and the agents when showing requests are made. As well, your personal contact info will be displayed to agents in the MLS in a special section for agents only, should they wish to call and get further info about your property.

5. Receive offers on your home

When an agent submits an offer on your home, it will be instantly displayed on your listing control panel for you to review. You will also receive an email notification that the offer has come in.

6. Go to your closing

Once the closing date arrives, your property will officially be SOLD! Now you can count all the money you saved using GetMoreOffers.com.

The Savings Can Be Great!

If you were to sell your home for $200,000, using a 6% Realtor® you would have to pay $12,000 in commission ($6,000 to the Realtor® you listed your property with plus $6,000 to the agent who found a buyer for you.) If you used a flat fee listing service, your commission owed would be only $6,399 ($399 for the flat fee-using our GOLD Advanced MLS Listing program, for example, plus $6,000 to the agent who found a buyer for you.) By using a flat fee MLS service instead of a full service agent, you would save $5,601!

Find a Buyer Yourself, Pay ONLY the Flat Fee and No Other Commission!

Occasionally the buyer for a property is not working with a buyer's agent. With our flat fee listing brokers, if the buyer who purchases your property does not have an agent, you will pay no other commission besides the up front flat fee you paid during signup. Many full service Realtors® would keep the entire 6% commission for themselves, even if the buyer came to the deal with no agent.

We hope this has been informative and invite your follow up questions!

We've covered a lot of ground and hope you feel more knowledgeable about what options exist, how flat fee listing works and what to look for when interviewing discount MLS companies.

We believe home sellers deserve better options for transacting real estate and it is our mission to provide coaching and education to sellers so that they can be more prepared when they choose to sell by owner. Should you find yourself in need of further support or have other questions, feel free to reach out to us - we are here 7 days a week.

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*For same day listing entry Mon-Fri: listing must be complete** by 2PM EST. (If holiday, listing entered following business day.)

Saturday & Sunday: Completed listings will be entered on the next business day (Monday unless holiday).

The MLS Only program may take up to 48 hours.

** "Complete" means: payment received, one (1) exterior front photo uploaded, listing agreement complete, and start date set to current (non future) date.