Understandably, many residential real estate owners frown upon paying a real estate agent a commission for listing their property for sale. Owners often turn to For Sale By Owner (FSBO) websites that allow owners to list their property on the site for a flat fee, usually around $300. While this makes owners feel good about getting their home on the market, the reality soon sets in that FSBO’s simply don’t get that much attention. If fact, most calls owners receive are from Realtors that want to list their property for sale (for a commission).
The secret real estate agents know that owners don’t is that approximately 85% of FSBO homes on the market will eventually be listed and sold by real estate agents. Real estate agents have access to the tool that approximately 90% of real estate transactions are generated from: the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Most real estate professionals in any given area have access to a local MLS; therefore, anything listed in the MLS is visible to nearly the entire population of real estate professionals. Consequently, the sales potential for an owner is exponentially higher when their home is listed within the MLS.
There are several companies that can be found on the internet that provide “MLS Listing services”. Many of them promise to list homes on Realtor.com, for example. Unfortunately that’s no guarantee that it will appear in the local MLS system. Without traffic from local real estate professionals, you’ll do just as well with the exclusive use of the few FSBO sites out there. Just be prepared to wait. FSBO’s typically take at least twice as long to sell as a property listed in the MLS, which is why most FSBO owners eventually give in and go with a Realtor.
The best bet to take advantage of the MLS system while avoiding excessive commissions is to call a Realtor. In almost every town you can find at least one Realtor or agency that is willing to list your property in the MLS for a flat fee (usually $300 to $500) with no further services or commitments. Be patient. Some Realtors may actually get offended at the suggestion that they might provide such a service. Just thank them for their time and call the next one. Once you find the right Realtor, they should be able to get you into the MLS within 24 hours of paying for the service, and you’ll be in business.
Remember to keep your options open. Most of the people calling you about MLS listings will be Realtors. If they bring a buyer to your property they expect (and deserve) a commission for doing so. The good news is that you’ll be able to get away with only paying half of a commission. Normally a Realtor’s commission is split between the listing agent and a selling agent. With only a selling agent involved, you keep half of the commission you would have otherwise paid. Hiring property management for condo associations is also a good thing to do. Having your property managed properly by a company will lessen your stress and worries.
If you are not willing to give up any commission whatsoever, you will spend most of your time telling real estate agents that you’re not interested in their business. For some, that could mean holding on to the property for many months longer than they otherwise would have if they’d have just paid the commission. Each seller’s situation is different. The value of the MLS and a Realtors services should be weighed carefully when deciding how to proceed with a sale.