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How to Get the Most Out of Flat Fee MLS

The MLS Is Open to More than Just Agents and Brokers

If you’ve ever considered selling your own home or if you’re an investor who wants to get the most bang for your buck, a flat fee MLS service may be the route to go. In the past, the multiple listing service was accessible only to licensed real estate agents. It was and still is one of the main benefits of working with a real estate agent.

In the more recent past, however, homeowners and investors have reason to celebrate. The MLS is not just a real estate tool for agents and brokers. FSBO home sellers and residential real estate investors can now list their properties on the MLS without having to hire a full-service agent to do it for them.

Related: Is the Cost to List on MLS Worth It?

At first, it may seem simpler to just hire an agent to do the heavy lifting for you, but when you break it down, that convenience comes at a cost. Full-service agents can cost you 3-4 percent of your property’s sale price, plus you have to pay the buyer’s agent the same percentage. It’s the reason why so many homeowners and investors opt to go at it themselves. For many, it’s just too much money to leave on the table.

The Benefits of Flat Fee MLS

The MLS is a must if you’re selling properties. Nowhere else can you add as much property detail with photos, get the most eyes on your listings, or find new properties in which to invest. The MLS is not a single database. In fact, it’s “a collection of private databases used by real estate brokers who agree to share their listing agreements with one another to locate ready, willing and able buyers for properties more quickly than they could on their own.”

The MLS is where everyone looking to buy and sell properties goes. It’s like Facebook for real estate, connecting people from far and wide with properties that fit their criteria. The MLS enables viewers to search for properties via specific filters, such as location, property features and price. Most real estate agencies and online real estate websites, such as Zillow and Trulia, serve up much of the MLS property data for free to viewers.

Related: 7 Reasons to Work with A Flat-Fee Real Estate Broker

In order to circumvent the commissions to real estate agents, home sellers and investors can place their properties on the MLS themselves using flat fee brokers. In essence, you pay a flat fee broker a fee for MLS access, but nothing more. They agree to grant you access but do not represent you as a licensed agent or broker would. They do not price, list, market or show your property, nor do they negotiate an offer. They are only giving you what you need most – access to the MLS database.

Who Can Benefit from Flat Fee MLS

Anyone selling a property can benefit greatly from a flat fee MLS service. You won’t pay agent or broker commissions, but you will be able to list any or all of your properties on the MLS. You control what goes into the listing data, including the photos.

Of course, if you need more assistance than simply getting access to the MLS, you’ll need to either pay a full-service agent or broker at that 3-4 percent commission or use a company who offers MLS access with a la carte agent services you can tailor to your needs. Owners and investors have never had so many options when it comes to buying and selling real estate.

How to Leverage Flat Fee MLS

In order to get the most out of your flat fee MLS service, do your homework before listing any properties. It will save you time in the long run. The MLS is basically a template. For every property, it will ask you to complete the same information. If you use a flat fee MLS service, you will have to search for information found in county tax records that can be auto-populated into your listing, and manually enter any remaining details not found in those records.

If the property has been sold in the near past without any notable changes to the property, you can copy and paste details from its last listing. Just be certain the data is still accurate. If the property has never been listed on the MLS or if it cannot be found in tax records, you’ll start from a blank listing. This definitely takes time, but keep in mind you’re saving thousands of dollars on the back end by doing the work on the front end.

Photos can also be included. We recommend hiring a professional real estate photographer or using one that is sometimes offered as part of the flat fee MLS service. Choose photos that put your property in its best light, inside and out. The photos are what most searchers begin with, so make sure they are beautiful. You can also load documents to the MLS, such as surveys.

Related: How Photos Can Increase Flip Profits Up to $11,000

Once you get the hang of it, listing your home on the MLS becomes easier with every property. The faster you can sell your property and move on to the next (particularly if you’re an investor), the sooner you’ll be enjoying the extra cash at closing.

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