How to List Your Home Using a Flat Fee MLS Listing Service

When preparing to sell your home, there are several factors to consider before putting it on the market. Should you hire a real estate agent or try selling it on your own? How much is your property worth? Do you need to list it on real estate sites like Zillow?

Homeowners traditionally employ real estate agents to sell their homes in exchange for a 5%-6% commission (split between their listing agent and the buyer’s agent). These are licensed professionals who operate, negotiate and arrange the sale of your property from listing to closing. A homeowner may not be too keen on the sizable fees real estate agents charge, but appointing one has been the most viable strategy to get a home sold.  Until another option was been made available in the last ten years: flat fee MLS listing.

What is a Flat Fee MLS Listing?

A flat fee MLS listing service is a more cost-effective way to sell your home. Instead of paying your real estate agent a percentage of your home’s total sale price, you agree on a predetermined flat fee in exchange for his or her services. Since you’re paying a fixed amount, regardless of what you sell your home for, this method could potentially save you a lot of money.

This is not a full-service listing. You pay the real estate agent or flat fee MLS company the predetermined fee and they place your listing on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The MLS is a database for licensed realtors where they can list homes for sellers and find prospective homes for buyers. With a flat fee MLS listing, you’re essentially paying for the exposure the database affords.

The agent manages your listing on the MLS, but you are the one responsible for the rest of the work – staging, conducting showings, hosting open houses and negotiations with potential buyers. The agent will list your personal contact information on the MLS so prospective buyers can contact you directly.

How to List Your Home Using a Flat Fee MLS Service

Here’s what you need to do if you’re planning to list your home using a flat fee MLS service:

1.    Find a Flat Fee MLS Listing Broker Near You

Look for a brokerage that has a network of state-licensed real estate brokers that offer a flat fee MLS listing service. Most states have multiple databases, so you’ll want to make sure the company you choose is going to list your house on the MLS that’s specific to your area. A reputable brokerage should have coverage for all the MLS databases in the state. Be sure the company isn’t just going to post your listing on the MLS they are a member of to save money. You won’t be able to sell your home if they market it in the wrong area.

Be discerning in your search. Companies that offer cheap rates are notoriously known for charging hidden fees or providing poor customer service. You want to evaluate whether the broker you choose is a good communicator. There are certain fines that you can be charged if status updates aren’t made to the MLS within 24 hours, like if your home has sold. If the agent is managing your listing, you want to be sure he or she is communicating with you and staying on top of these updates so you’re not getting fined. It’s always best to do your research and compare different companies before making a final decision.

2.    Buy Your Listing for a Fixed Cost

Once you’ve chosen a flat fee MLS company, the next step is to purchase the listing. In most cases, the option to purchase a listing is built into the brokerage’s website. It’s important to read the terms and conditions before you buy.

3.    Provide Information on Your Property

After buying a listing, you’ll need to provide the necessary information on your property by filling out a couple of online forms. You need to double-check the information you provided because you don’t want to leave out any pertinent details about your property.

Once your home is listed on the MLS, you should be able to receive a PDF of the listing. Review the document for accuracy and inform the company you’re working with if you need to change anything.

4.    Upload Photos of Your Property

Photos are key in selling your home as they are what will initially attract buyers to your listing. If you’re selling your house through a flat fee MLS listing, you’re likely saving a lot of money. It’s highly recommended that you put some of that money into a professional photographer. The price for real estate photography will differ based on area, but on average, runs anywhere from $100 to $400. Remember, the photos you put on the MLS are buyer’s first impression of your home so you want them to look as good as possible.

Most MLS databases limit the number of photos you can upload somewhere between 25 and 40. If you have more than the allotted limit, be sure to pick the very best ones. Some flat fee MLS listing websites will ask you to upload photos through their website, while others will require you to email them or send them via a link.

5.    Sign a Listing Agreement

Once everything is in place, the last step is to sign a listing agreement where you’ll find the terms from the broker and the amount of commission you’ll be paying to the buyer’s agents. There are two types of listing agreements offered by MLS systems:

  • Exclusive Right to Sell. You need to pay the listing broker a fee regardless of where you find a buyer.
  • Exclusive Agency. You can sell your house outside of the broker and won’t have to pay a commission if you do. (An Exclusive Agency agreement is the most viable option.)

What’s Next?

Once the broker has all the necessary property information and photos and you’ve signed your listing agreement, he or she will list it on the MLS. You’ll typically need to wait 24 to 48 hours for a confirmation that your listing is live. Once it is, the responsibility shifts to you.

You’ll be responsible for staging and conducting individual showings, hosting open houses and handling negotiations with interested buyers. You will need to coordinate with your broker if there are any changes to the listing.

Once you’ve found a buyer, the closing process involves paying the buyer’s agent their commission and submitting the closing information to the MLS listing service. Once that’s complete, congratulations! You’ve successfully sold your home.

The Bottom Line

It’s safe to assume that homeowners who plan on selling their homes want to maximize their profits. If you have more time on your hands and you’re looking to save more money, your house will likely be sold for a higher profit with flat fee MLS listing. Be sure to work with a reputable flat fee MLS listing company that will guide you through the entire process

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