Why Do You Need a Cheap MLS Listing Service?
More people than ever are moving – moving away from real estate agents who charge an arm and a leg for their services – to selling their homes on their own. For Sale by Owner (FSBO) is the hottest trend in real estate for a good reason: it’s not as hard as agents want you to believe.
Thanks to automated tools and technology, home sellers have an option. Yes, a licensed real estate agent will do most of the legwork for a home seller, but it comes at a hefty price – typically around 3% of the home sale price (around 6% is the total commission paid by the seller, but it is split between the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent as payment for their efforts to get your house sold). For a home that sells for the average $200,000 to $300,000, that’s $6,000 – $9,000 dollars in commissions. No wonder homeowners are looking for an alternative.
For homeowners who are willing to put in a few hours and follow standard processes, selling a home is not only doable, it is lucrative. A home is often the largest investment in a person’s portfolio. The more that can be made (and saved in commissions), the better the return on that investment.
One of the biggest roadblocks to FSBO is the MLS which was only available to agents and brokers. Just so we’re on the same page, let’s define the MLS to understand why it’s so important. According to the National Association of REALTORSⓇ, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is “a private offer of cooperation and compensation by listing brokers to other real estate brokers.” In layman’s terms, its the database of properties for sale in various cities and locales. It’s where everyone, from agents to home buyers to curious folk go to search for properties and get all of its details. If you’re going to sell your property yourself and aren’t planning on selling it off-market to family, friends or neighbors, you want it on the MLS.
You can get a lot of bang for your buck with the MLS. Depending on the service you use, your listing may also to linked to popular online home search databases, such as Realtor.com, Zillow, and Trulia. Keep in mind, most real estate agencies have their own online search of the MLS, so your property is accessible from virtually home search site.
To get your property on the MLS, you’re going to have to pay. Part of your $6-$9k commission will grant you access. Or, you can find a cheap MLS listing service or find an agent who offers a flat-rate fee instead of commissions.
The MLS Lowdown and Cheap Realtor Websites
Before you assume there are random MLS listing services out there, even the flat rate providers are real estate firms. They are simply offering you a flat rate versus full commission to give you their access but no additional service. You still pay (and that fee ranges wildly), but you won’t be getting all of the hand holding that a full-service agent will provide you.
A cheap MLS Listing Service will offer you a flat rate of anywhere from a hundred bucks for a few months’ listing to a couple thousand dollars for an indefinite listing. Most will allow you to upload home photos and all will allow you to write your own property description, as well as complete the many required fields. Whether you go the cheaper route or are willing to fork over a few extra bucks, you’re still paying a fraction of what a commissioned agent will charge you.
Some agents are beginning to offer a flat-rate fee themselves, packaging their services at a tiered rate depending on your budget and the work they’re willing to offer. They are seeing the writing on the wall and understand not all home sellers can or want to pay commissions. Instead of losing business to FSBOs and low-rate competitors, their flat rate keeps them in the game.
Which MLS Listing Service Should You Choose?
The only way to know which listing service to choose is to do your homework. A lot of cheap real estate agents are just that, cheap. Often, cheapest realtor fees mean cheap service. However, there are a bunch of alternatives that provide the best of both worlds! Great service and no commission real estate listings. An online search will result in hundreds of thousands of results, so how do you choose the best one? Make a list of what’s important to you first. Are you willing to go down the FSBO route completely alone? If so, narrow your search to providers who offer MLS access alone, nothing more.
Next, estimate how long you believe your home will take to sell. Keep in mind that if your home is priced right, it will sell, no matter its condition or location. If you price it at the top of the market, expect a longer sales cycle. Price it lower than what similar homes in your area are going for and you will likely have a buyer in no time.
Related: Home Seller Checklist
The reason this step is important is that many of the cheap MLS listing services put a time limit on how long your property can be on the MLS. Once your time is up, you either have to pay another fee to keep your property on the MLS or your property drops off of the MLS and out of sight (not a good thing).
If you would you like a little support, such as having the provider send a professional photographer that can help your house look its best, you will need more than basic MLS access. Determine how much support do you think you’ll need. Consider the time and costs it will take you to do all of the things a real estate agent would do for you – photograph and upload your photos, design and print brochures, create a for-sale sign, market your home to agents, hold open houses, etc. What areas would you need that support? If so, look at the flat fee and low rate MLS listing services.
Each service will offer different services for a different rate. Choose one that fits your needs, nothing more and nothing less, and your budget. Do a little research to understand the fine print, the company’s experience and what other customers say about the service. Fortunately, because most of these MLS listing services are relatively cheap, you can always switch to another provider if you’re not happy with what you’re receiving.
FSBO is here to stay and it’s a great option for home sellers looking to pocket more money. For those who are curious but fearful they can’t do it alone, there are options. Support is available at the level you need and the rate you can afford.
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