A word about flat fee MLS listings

Real Estate Agent with Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc. BK627826

With the market as slow as it is right now, many people wonder about doing flat fee MLS listings to help sell their house and save on their bottom line.  During a buyer's market, sellers need all the marketing exposure they can get.  In spite of all the marketing that a good real estate agent can provide you, still the #1 thing that sells most residential properties is being placed in the local MLS.  Additionally the local MLS will automatically upload your property's listing onto many real estate internet sites like www.Realtor.com, realestate.yahoo.com, realestate.msn.com, and many local and state property sites like fl.living.net .  Many of the local Realtor associations have deals with their community newspaper to upload their entire MLS onto the newspaper's classified sites under an MLS search page.  For instance in most of Central Florida, our MLS database loads directly onto www.OrlandoSentinel.com

Many of the big-named corporate real estate firms will discourage flat fee listings over their traditional high-priced model.  Although I agree it is good to have a full-time knowledgeable marketing person helping you sell your house during a buyer's market, I personally believe (and it is my experience that many consumers do as well once they find out about flat fee services) that it is an expensive price to pay for these marketing services.  Now I am not one to be a cheapskate by any means, but if you figure a listing agent earns 3% on a $250,000 house sale, the commission is $7,500. (Disclaimer: Commissions are negotiable and not set by law.) Even if they put a staggering 50 hours exclusively into your listing, they are billing you at $150 per hour.  Yes they have to split it with their broker and pay for marketing expenses, but so do most lawyers and doctors who bill similar amounts and have a staff, partners, and overhead.  Something to think about anyway. I know being a Realtor myself that I will be happy to take as much commission as possible out of a transaction, but I am always negotiable with what I will charge. You would be surprised at how many Realtors tell me they lose the listing because their broker will not allow them to negotiate on the commission they charge.

If you look at MLS statistics you will discover that 70% or more of all listings are sold by another Realtor and not by the listing agent, so the big key is to get it into the MLS to dramatically increase the exposure.  But you do not want to go with just any old broker who can throw your listing up on the MLS.  There are big differences between brokerages and many of the smaller outfits or the deep deep discounters do not provide the perks, experience, or assistance to help you properly market and sell your property.  I will discuss some of these things in another posting or you can read up on some of these at our website www.SDRhouses.com.

Just a quick example.

We did a flat fee MLS listing last Fall.  It was overpriced, and I told the sellers so.  But with flat fee MLS listings, we make recommendations only and let the sellers make the final decision if they want to list it in the MLS.  After about 2 months, they decided to cancel their listing with us and list with one of those full-service Realtors who do radio talk shows.  I am all for more marketing and was quite curious to see what would happen.  Bottom line is that these sellers dropped the price 50K under what they had it listed with us, and after 6 weeks of marketing and a few more price drops, surprise surprise it still had not sold even with a full-service Realtor advertising on the radio every week.  They did end up re-listing with us and it eventually sold through the MLS after a total of about 7 months on the market and about 75K in price drops.  The price it did finally sell for was a little under what they could have sold it for back in the Fall with proper pricing, but prices have been falling some in Orlando and they were quite motivated to sell.

Of course we also do full-service and menu-based service listings.  Consumers are looking for choices these days and the traditional corporate real estate outfits are slowly losing market share to the non-traditional firms. Just look at what non-traditional firms have done to the travel industry and the stock brokerage industry. 


(Copyright © 2007. Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Rob Arnold, ABR, CPL, GRI, Managing real estate broker, Licensed mortgage broker, Notary Public

407-389-7318 www.SDRhouses.com/

Your full service and investor friendly Realtor in Orlando. Learn to invest in Central Florida real estate and Orlando real estate. Investor mentoring and counseling available. I also provide flat fee MLS listings, For Sale By Owner, and menu-based services in Florida.

We buy houses cash, sell properties, and list properties in Central Florida including Orlando, Winter Park, Maitland, College Park, Ocoee, Winter Garden, Apopka, Pine Hills, Altamonte Springs, Casselberry, Longwood, Winter Springs, Oviedo, Lake Mary, Sanford, Deltona, Debary, Deland, Mount Dora, Eustis, Clermont, Kissimmee, Saint Cloud, Davenport, Winter Haven, and more. www.WeBuyHousesFlorida.com/

Comments (11)

Matthew Heavener
ERA Heavener Realty Co. - Jacksonville, FL
Interesting and important observation.
Mar 27, 2008 03:42 PM
Rob Arnold
Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc. - Altamonte Springs, FL
Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F
Jim - I am the broker. Most of my agents don't mess with this, but it is an option they have available.  An easy way to pick up a few quick bucks.  I set the fee based on the work involved.  I try to be more service oriented than most of the cheaper totally internet based companies.  Most of the sellers I work with are either experienced sellers who have sold several houses in the past, investors, or other Realtors (who don't want to pay their broker a full 5-6%). I don't advertise this service heavily, but I just keep it around as an option for my customers.
Mar 28, 2008 02:56 AM
John and Lisa Marker
RE/MAX Dream Properties - Northville, MI

It is important to have a talented broker that knows the market... the price is still king.


Mar 29, 2008 01:26 PM
David W. Bolick
Network Real Estate, Inc. - Little Rock, AR

Jim, I have used the Flat Fee concept for about 10 years and never advertised it.  I use it as a "tool" to be "invited" in the door and build up a relationship.  I still do about 10 - $595 Flat Fee deals a year but 60% of them turn into full listings that I would have never received had we not started out talking about Flat Fee.

My program is very standard and I DON'T deviate.  Shoot me an email and I'll tell you how I structure my flat fee program.

David W. Bolick, 33 yr Broker/Owner

Apr 07, 2008 01:33 PM
David W. Bolick
Network Real Estate, Inc. - Little Rock, AR

The revelation to me was there are a ton of agents busting their hinnies working $50K to $75K homes that wind up making $550 to $650 in total commission for all their work and I can do a Flat Fee for $595 cash up front and a total 3% discounted commission on a $950,000 house like I just closed on Monday and for 7 days work I make the $595 + $5,700 after paying the cobroker 2.4% for the buyer, which all started off with just the $595.  I try to limit my Flat's to $200K+ homes.

Jun 05, 2008 02:13 PM
Paul Jones
Kansas City Regional Homes - Olathe, KS
PIC Properties - Kansas & Missouri

This is an intersting concept.  I work for a Broker, and there is no way he would allow us to do something like this.  We have pushed the idea around with different packages.  We will see.

Aug 25, 2008 02:32 PM
David W. Bolick
Network Real Estate, Inc. - Little Rock, AR

Paul, as a broker, I look at my agents as "Independent Agents".  If they are independent, then they should be able to operate their own business as they see fit only under the guidelines of our laws and regulations.  For a broker not to allow an agent to charge less is almost like price fixing to me.  If you want to work your tail off and only get $400 in the end, I think you'd be smart enough to "adjust" your fee according to the amount of effort you had to put in to it, so why should the broker interfere with your freedom? 

It stems from the old days, but at the same time...why does a broker think they can "require" a independent agent to "work free" in their office answering a telephone, scheduling appointments, etc.?

Aug 25, 2008 10:45 PM
Jim Pirkle
Harvest Realty LLC - Dahlonega, GA

I started offering the Flat Fee Listing service a year ago.  I don't do anything different than what I did as a commission agent and have sold several properties and made many sellers happy and kept myself in business.  I still offer commission-basd listings for those who don't have cash upfront.

Mar 17, 2009 12:22 AM
Listing in MLS

This is the perfect blog for anyone who wants to know about this topic. You know You definitely put a new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!

Dec 26, 2011 03:59 PM


Sep 03, 2020 01:29 AM


Sep 03, 2020 01:29 AM