Do You Need a 6% MLS Agent?

Lower Cost Home MLS Alternatives

In the good old days (at least for realtors) – you had only two alternatives when you wanted to sell your home using the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). You could either pay a realtor 6% (maybe 5.5% if you begged) or go “For Sale by Owner”. These “FSBO’s” were looked upon darkly by the real estate industry and even by most buyers. Most FSBO have almost no market exposure and often have a greedily high price above the market (and with no commission subtracted). If you ever take a real estate sales training course – you’ll find that FSBO owners are the best source of real estate leads — they are highly probable to eventually hire a realtor.

The FSBO seller was at a severe disadvantage since their home was not listed to most buyers on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). This meant that when buyers searched for homes — the FSBO listings were purposely excluded. There were agencies such as “Assist to Sell” or “Help U Sell” that provided a blended approach with their own “mini MLS” of their internal listings and upgraded fees to go onto the MLS.

But the world has changed (see below)….

In most parts of the United States, you can now get your home listed on the MLS for around $600 – including most of the very basic services that a realtor might provide. This means that you can design your own listing for your home – with your own quality photos (you can take a digital photo — right?) and get exposure to all buyers. You’ll need to pay 2% – 3% (we’d recommend 3%) to lure in the buying real estate agent and their pool of buyers — you could even afford to offer more. But the 3% to the selling agent can drop drastically by merely approaching the service from a “self-service prospective”.

A wealth of agencies have popped up to offer this service including Congress Realty, MLS for Owners, and many more. Expect to pay add-on fees for items such as lockboxes, voicemail, signs, and extended photos or listing times. But when you’re saving 3% — you can afford a lot of extras. We found the total price of the MLS self-service to be closer to $600 versus the $9,000 we estimated for a $300k home.

You’ll need a good business knowledge and understanding of your home’s value. Setting the correct price is the most important action you can take. Sites such as Zillow or a listing presentation by a potential realtor can help you estimate this also. Certain regional agencies – Redfin being the most prominent in the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle — provide an improved version of this service. Check out a variety of partners on the internet and you can pocket more and have more negotiating flexibility as you go to sell your home in a tough real estate market.