Navigate the Home Selling Journey With Flat Fee

How to Navigate the Home Selling Journey With Flat Fee MLS

The MLS is one of the most useful tools available for marketing a home you want to sell. The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is made up of regional databases across the country, where people can list homes for sale and search to find an ideal property to buy. It’s the default strategy when you have a real estate agent. 

After all, brokerages have access to their regional database. Listing agents can push out a new property to get attention from buyers, and buyers’ agents can easily search through the database.

If you don’t want to use an agent, you traditionally wouldn’t have access to this resource. In fact, only 3% of FSBOs were listed on MLS in 2021. But flat fee MLS listing services bridge the gap. There are many reasons for home sellers not to want to use an agent, such as saving money and being more in control of the process

Individuals who want to sell their property and investors who manage several transactions can benefit from selling a house on their own, provided they have access to the MLS. Before you engage in this strategy, it’s important to understand what flat fee MLS listing services are, how they change the home-selling process, and the steps you would need to take to optimize this approach.

What Is a Flat Fee MLS Service?

Flat-fee MLS listing services offer an alternative route to listing your property for sale. Traditionally, your listing agent would handle this process. They’d gather details about your property, have you fill out the seller’s disclosure form, and sometimes arrange for professional photographers to take pictures of your home.

However, if you’re opting to sell your home without an agent, you can manage these tasks yourself. The challenge comes from finding your way onto the MLS, which only licensed agents and brokers are allowed to directly access.

When you purchase services from an MLS listing service, they will upload the details of your property to the MLS and give you a communication channel to respond to inquiries and offers. Some flat-fee MLS listing services make this process as simple as possible by asking you questions that correspond to each field in the MLS rather than making you fill out a form. You can also upload photos of your home, documentation for key aspects (such as roofing warranties or proof of renovations), required documents, and even video.

One of the most crucial elements of your listing is the asking price of the property. Using the right number from the start is important to getting strong offers quickly.

Flat Fee MLS vs. Hiring a Real Estate Agent

Using a flat fee MLS listing service is an alternative to the conventional approach: hiring a listing agent. When you have an agent, they’ll handle the process for you, advise you on a good listing price, and manage communications from buyers or agents before presenting you with any offers for the property. 

Related: 4 Strategies for Selling Your Home Without a Realtor

There are some benefits to hiring a real estate agent:

  • Your agent will have access to the MLS and be familiar with it.
  • Agents handle uploading details, managing communications, fielding questions, and negotiating on your behalf. 
  • They are familiar with the market, negotiating tactics, and pricing trends.

However, there are substantive disadvantages:

  • Real estate agents get paid by commission, and listing agents in Texas expect a commission equal to 3% of the home’s purchase price. So, if you sell your home for $500,000, they’ll pocket $15,000. This is in addition to the 3% sellers conventionally pay the buyer’s agent.
  • You still have to do a lot of the work. Your agent will require you to fill out a seller’s disclosure notice, and you will need to provide a lot of the details for the listing itself. Depending on your agent, you may also be responsible for coordinating or paying for photography.
  • Smart pricing tools can outperform agent expertise. Agents bring a lot of knowledge to the table, but that can make them stubborn or stuck on old conventions when pricing your home. Modern algorithmic tools can recommend pricing based on homes in your area with comparable updates and features—and they’ll tell you both the listing price and the final sales price.
  • You don’t receive as much insight. Agents manage the listings and communications. But this means you don’t know what questions are being asked, and you won’t have a direct feel for how much interest there is in your property. Real estate agents are obligated to present every offer to you, but it can be frustrating not to have direct insight into what’s happening.

When you like having control of the process and want to make sure you have an optimal listing price, flat fee MLS services are a better fit.

Flat Fee MLS vs. Not Using MLS

These aren’t the only two options. If you want to sell your home as a FSBO property, you don’t have to put it on the MLS. Instead, you can directly upload your listing onto consumer-facing real estate websites, post it on Craig’s List, market it using signs, or sell it to friends or family in your personal network. These options side-step the need for any MLS access, but they do include severe disadvantages:

  • Missed markets: MLS is the standard platform that real estate agents use when they’re compiling search reports for their clients. If your property isn’t in the database, then it can’t be included in those search reports. Thousands of buyers who might have been interested in your home may not ever see it.
  • Inconvenience: MLS listings are also automatically pushed onto major consumer-facing sites like Trulia and Zillow. But if you do it manually, that could mean you spend hours uploading the details.
  • A dissatisfying final sales price: Without smart pricing tools, you might list an ineffective asking price. Even if it’s the right fit, the delays due to low visibility could cause you to reduce the price or accept a low offer just to finish the deal.

Listing your home on the MLS is too valuable to do without, and flat-fee listing services let you do so cost-effectively and with the degree of control you desire.

How to Use Flat Fee MLS Services to Sell Your Home

When you opt to sell your home as a FSBO with a flat fee MLS listing service, you’re embarking on a journey that’s slightly different than the typical home-selling process. Incorporate these steps into your FSBO selling strategy.

Step 1. Research Comparable Homes in Your Area and Make Improvements

Unless you’re in a hurry, it’s often best to make improvements to your property before you sell it. Simple updates and repairs can make your home more competitive, and bigger upgrades can increase the number and size of offers you receive. To get started, look at homes in your area. See what improvements and changes they have that you can make to your property, and choose the ones that make the most financial sense.

Step 2. Create the Listing

Since you’re in control of the listing, make sure it includes clear, accurate details. Along with specific informational fields, you can include a property description, documents, photographs, and even offer instructions that tell agents what you’re looking for in an offer (such as leasebacks, a specific timeline, and so on).

Related: A Step-By-Step Guide for How to List on MLS Without an Agent

You’re not required to upload professional-level photographs or any at all. But pictures make a big difference in the level of attention your listing receives and will significantly increase the price. Hire professional real estate photographers who can stage the property, take well-crafted exterior and interior shots, and even create a virtual tour file. 

Step 3. Post the Listing and Start Marketing your Property

Once the listing has the informational details, it’s time to go live. You might mark it as “coming soon” if you aren’t ready for offers yet, or you might mark it as fully live. Once the details are accessible, agents will start calling you for details or to make verbal offers. You are in charge of managing the offers and communications, including declining offers, answering questions, proposing counteroffers, and finally, accepting an offer.

Step 4. Keep Your MLS Listing Updated as it Goes Under Contract and Sells

The MLS listing will need attention throughout the marketing phase—and even while the property is under contract. Once you accept an offer, it’s best practice to update your listing so it displays that status. But don’t take it down just yet. The buyer may back out, or the deal can fall apart. Once it goes to close, then you can mark it as sold and off-market so you don’t receive any more questions or offers.

Start Your Home Selling Journey With Flat Fee MLS Services

Today, homeowners and property investors have a wide array of tools for marketing houses, representing themselves, and listing properties on MLS. You can stay in control of the sales process and use online tools to handle all the tasks that were conventionally completed by a real estate agent. 

At ListingSpark, we’re here to help. We offer flat fee MLS listing services, professional photography options, smart pricing tools, and deal management portals so you can stay organized throughout the transaction. Contact us today to see where DIY MLS listing options fit into your sales strategy.

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