Selling your home through a traditional realtor can be a hassle, and an expensive one at that. When selling with a realtor you give over control to your listing agent who decides when to show your house and how much, or how little, to advertise it. When your house finally does sell, your listing agent charges you a commission of 3% of the selling price of your home. Tack on another 3% commission to the buyer’s real estate agent and you’ve paid a total commission of 6% of your home’s selling price.
One benefit of going with a real estate agent is that they can list your home on the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS. The MLS is a private collection of regional home-listing databases where real estate agents list homes for sale. The MLS is responsible for an estimated 75% of home sales. Only real estate agents who pay for access can use it to list and search for homes. As an individual seller, unless you are a licensed real estate agent, you can’t access the MLS on your own to add your home for sale to the database.
But, what if you could list your home on the MLS without hiring a real estate agent?
Well, with a flat rate MLS listing, you have the benefit of getting your listing into the MLS and in front of home buyers without having to pay a 3% commission to a listing agent. And if you end up selling to a buyer without an agent then you can have avoided the entire 6% commission. With flat rate MLS, you pay a small one-time fee to get your listing on the MLS alongside other home sellers who are paying 3% seller commission to their realtors.
How Does Flat Rate MLS Work?
When you take advantage of flat rate MLS you pay a one-time fee to an agent who uses their access to the MLS to list your home for sale. So, as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) home seller, your home will be listed both on FSBO websites, and on the MLS so that nobody misses your listing. Once your property is on the MLS, realtors who log into the system will be able to see your listing and have access to information about your property that they can share with home buyers.
When you use flat rate MLS, you are selling your home as “For Sale By Owner”. Generally you will have the option of different levels of service, so you can decide how much work you want to do on your own. With our service, FSBO listing packages start out with just the basic “put you in the MLS,” up to full service, which is what 93% of our clients choose. You will get a for sale post sign delivered, professionally installed, and picked up when you are done; a realtor lockbox, and contract assistance or preparation. If the buyer is FSBO, we will handle the counter offers and negotiations. Some MLS even offer a showing service, which is included in our package if the MLS offers it. Taking the photographs of your home is up to you, or you can hire a professional home photographer. With Flat Rate FSBO services, you have the best of both worlds – you are FSBO on the local FSBO website in addition to the added visibility of having your home listed in the MLS with a fully licensed Realtor who has been nominated as a Top Real Estate Agent for the last 4 years.
Besides Saving Money, What Are The Benefits Of Flat Rate MLS?
Avoiding that 3% real estate seller commission is great, but choosing to list your home with a flat rate MLS instead of a traditional realtor offers other benefits as well. As an FSBO home seller, you are in complete control of your own home selling process. You are the one setting up showing times and meeting potential buyers, you get to decide which of your home’s best characteristics to focus your advertising on, and you have the flexibility to price your home at the point you think is best relative to your competition. Being an FSBO home seller requires about 2-3 hours of filling out paperwork and loading up pictures to start and then answering agents questions and scheduling showings, but for that work you get to sell your home on your terms and keep at least 3% more of your home’s equity.
What Else Do I Need To Know?
Although you will not have to pay a 3% commission to a listing agent when you choose flat rate MLS, you may still have to pay a commission to your buyer’s real estate agent. As an FSBO home seller whose property is also listed on the MLS, your potential buyers pool is both FSBO buyers and buyers with realtors. If your buyer is represented by a realtor, you will still pay that portion of the sales commission, usually 3% of the selling price.
Another aspect of flat rate MLS to keep in mind is that you will have the same responsibilities as a realtor listing on the MLS. You must respond to phone calls and emails about your listing, which may come day or night, on weekends and even when you’re on vacation. Furthermore, you will be responsible for filling out MLS forms accurately, and you may be liable to fines if you fail to complete post-sale procedures such as the Seller Signed ALTA/Closing Disclosure and the Ratified Contract within the MLS required timeline. Many flat rate MLS home sellers take advantage of flat fee or bundled low cost closing assistance from a qualified real estate agent since the close paperwork and negotiations can be the biggest challenge.
Essentially, even though you will be an FSBO home seller, if you choose to use flat rate MLS you should think of yourself as your own realtor and learn what is required of you when your property is MLS listed. If you do, you’ll avoid paying the full 6% commission to realtors and instead pay 3% or even 0% in commission fees on your home sale.
For Sale by Owner Virginia
For Sale by Owner Virginia offers flat rate MLS and a range of service packages to fit the needs of home sellers in the Virginia, Maryland and DC areas. Our For Sale by Owner programs let you decide how much you want to do on your own and all of them save you thousands of dollars at closing time.