Is a $169 flat fee MLS listing a safe way to list a Florida home? Get the real scoop from Keith Gordon, the advocate of Florida flat fee MLS seller's rights

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with ADDvantage Real Estate Services

The fast answer is no. Offers on the internet for listing a Florida property for $169 flat fee in the MLS are almost always what one might fear...too good to be true. It can spell immediate trouble for an inexperienced flat fee seller who isn't aware of what can hurt them.  And these unknown details can cost a Florida seller a whole lot more than $169. As owner of ADDvantage®, Florida discount MLS broker, I have read just about every competitor's website and listing agreement and through my research, have learned just how sneaky these cheap flat fee MLS listing services can be.

The truth about the workings behind listing real estate for a flat fee or even full service for that matter is not always out in the open.  Many times the reality is hidden in the fine print of a listing agreement or possibly in the minds of the people running the operation.  Oftentimes it's what they don't tell you that you have to worry most about.  For example, the listing agreement and website might not make a single mention of what happens when a buyer lead calls the flat fee listing company...but this detail happens to be of vital importance to a flat fee seller.

Since I list homes as a flat fee broker in just about every city in Florida, I have gotten important feedback from sellers who have listed with other flat rate companies that were not forthcoming about their procedures.  In some cases, these practices have cost sellers cancellation penalties, valuable time and much unnecessary stress.  My company, ADDvantage®, a Florida based flat fee MLS service advocates an explicit listing agreement that protects the seller and spells out what can be expected of us during the listing period.  We provide transparent and trustworthy flat fee MLS listing services in Tampa, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Naples, Sarasota, St Pete, Clearwater, Orlando, Wesley Chapel, Sarasota, Bradenton, New Port Richey, Trinity, Weston, the Florida Keys, South Beach, Jacksonville, Daytona, Gainesville, Tallahassee, Panama City and just about every town in Florida.

The truth is, to provide a listing in the MLS for a flat fee is a very difficult business. It is labor intensive, capital intensive and profit margins are almost nonexistent. Because of this, many flat fee listing companies resort to backhanded practices in order to make profit.  The mistake they make is thinking that if they offer the cheapest flat fee MLS listing service that the volume will be great enough to generate profit.  Unfortunately, this doesn't work since more volume means more maintenance and administration.  To compensate, these brokers often steal buyer leads to earn a fat commission to cover the expenses that they should have charged up front. 

ADDvantage® is one of Florida's biggest and most technologically advanced flat fee services. We are 100% paperless, employ one of the University of Florida's brightest computer science graduates to manage our websites and software development so we can efficiently track our listings and have invested resources to brand our company and create a product that people can trust. Though we charge a bit more than some of these other brokers or websites offering to list properties flat fee, when you list with us, the benefits are priceless.  Unlike most websites out there who have invested little in any real business model and have simply thrown a website up to make a quick buck, we are in this business for the long haul and have never wavered on our pledge to offer straightforward flat fee real estate services.

Having some insight into the cheap flat fee listing websites, let's take a closer look at how they operate...

Part 1 of the $169 "gotcha" business models.

Because full service Realtors® prey on flat fee sellers to convert to full service, the unscrupulous flat fee broker writes a clause into their listing agreement that says:

  • $500 cancellation fee as a penalty if you terminate a listing before the 6 or 12 month "listing term" is up;
  • If you insist on leaving early, they will waive the $500 fee just as long as the full service agent you re-list with pays them a "25% referral commission";
  • Or, if you wish, convert to full service with one of our agents and they'll waive the fee. So in essence, you are trapped;
  • If you won't pay the $500 fee and don't agree to re-list full service or have the new full service agent agree to the 25% referral kick-back scheme, then they won't cancel your listing in the MLS, instead, they'll put it into a status called "conditional withdraw" that creates an untenable situation of not being able to re-list the property until the remainder of the listing term expires.

The reason this is occurring is because there's more money in trapping flat fee customers with the lure of a cheap MLS listing rather than in running a clean and honest flat fee MLS listing service such as ADDvantage®. We charge a reasonable and legitimate flat rate of $349, have no cancellation fees or kick-back schemes, answer the phone live 8:00-8:00 7 days a week and send all buyer leads directly to our sellers in real time every time, guaranteed.     

Part 2 of the $169 "gotcha" business models...

This is in my opinion, bizarre and has to do with who gets the buyer leads (unrepresented buyers...no Realtor® in tow). The fact is the listing broker receives all Realtor.com buyer leads both by email and phone calls. The reason is because sellers are not allowed by Realtor.com rules to publish their email address or phone number. In a traditional flat fee listing, the listing broker acts as the gatekeeper for all buyer leads and should immediately pass them on the their flat fee client. But, this is not what is happening. Read the listing agreement carefully to see who gets the buyer leads because without these leads one of the main reasons why you listed flat fee MLS is gone (to sell FSBO and pay zero commission).  If the listing agreement doesn't disclose where buyer leads go, "caveat emptor."

What would an unscrupulous flat fee company do with these buyer leads from Realtor.com and Homes.com? Give them to their agents so they can earn the offered buyers' agent commission or refer it out and earn a referral commission. In essence, your flat fee listing is bait. That's right bait, or shall we say "chum", to attract buyers to their website using YOUR listing.

ADDvantage® is working to keep it "safe and secure" to do business with a flat fee MLS service in Florida...guaranteed.

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