Frequently Asked Questions on Flat Fee MLS Listings

What is the MLS?

One of the first and most important things that an agent does once they have a listing is put it on a property database called the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The MLS is an exclusive database that only certain licensed realtors have access to. It is the holy grail of real estate information…the crème de la crème…the VIP room of property data. MLS data is then uploaded to different property websites used by all potential buyers looking to purchase property – such as: Realtor.com®, Move.com®, Trulia.com®, Google.com™, and Zillow.com®, just to name a few. The MLS is the data source for all these other real estate websites because the MLS creates something called an “Internet Data Exchange” (IDX). An IDX allows potential buyers on other real estate websites to search for property listed on the MLS – but remember, even though you may be able to add individual properties to these other real estate websites, only certain licensed brokers may add content to and list property on the MLS.

What is the traditional selling process for a residential real estate transaction?

Traditionally, when an owner sells his or her property, he or she first contacts a real estate agent (called the listing agent). That agent lists the property in the MLS and works on selling the property. The agent works for free until the property closes, at which time the agent is finally paid via commission on the sale price – normally 6% – and that commission is then split with the buyer’s real estate agent – usually 2.5% of the 6% commission. If a buyer purchases the property without an agent, the listing agent takes the entire 6% commission.

Unfortunately, this payment structure promotes quick sales because an agent will receive the same commission regardless of the time he or she spends actually selling the property. For example, if an agent were able to sell a $500,000 property that was listed on the MLS for two days, he or she would have earned $30,000 in commission, to be split with a buyer’s agent. Is that a reasonable payment structure for two days of “work”?

What are Flat-Fee MLS listings?

With a Flat-fee MLS listing, you are utilizing a listing agent, but that agent is not charging you to based on a traditional commission structure.  Rather, he or she is charging you to list your property in the MLS for a flat-fee.  This payment structure provides a seller the opportunity to list his or her property in the MLS for a flat fee, potentially saving thousands of dollars in commission.

Should I list my property on the MLS for a flat-fee?

If you want to save a significant amount of money and you are ready to take on some additional duties, then flat fee MLS is for you. Essentially, listing your property on the MLS for a flat fee puts you in the same shoes as a real estate agent – you list, you market, and you sell (with our help, of course). We give you many of the same necessary tools that a listing agent would use and we do it for a flat rate. This way, at closing, you keep the equity in your home because you don’t have to pay a listing agent commission.

Do I have to compensate a buyer's agent?

If an agent represents a buyer, and brings that buyer into your property, that agent should absolutely be paid a commission for his or her services if a sale is consummated. Traditionally, it’s customary to pay a buyer’s agent 2.5%-3.0% commission. But you decide and you control the exact percentage. Think about it this way: the more commission you offer to a buyer’s agent, the more incentive that agent has to show your property and “sell” his or her client on purchasing your property.

What does a flat-fee MLS listing include?

When you list with us for a flat fee, you will maximize your marketing exposure. We’ll put you on the MLS for the period of time designated in the listing package you select, and we offer a la carte selling features as well, including real estate for sale signs, lock boxes, appointment setting, professional photos, and even home warranties. Additionally, we will provide assistance throughout the entire transaction. For instance, we always provide you the following services, no matter which package you select: (a) accept delivery of and present offers and counteroffers to purchase or lease the property; (b) assist in developing, communicating, negotiating, and presenting offers, counteroffers, and notices that relate to the offers and counteroffers until a lease or purchase agreement is signed and all contingencies are satisfied or waived; and (c) answer your questions relating to the offers, counteroffers, notices, and contingencies. If that sounds like legalese, you’re right – so give us a call, or shoot us an email, and we’ll be happy to explain everything to you in more detail.

Does it matter where my property is located?

Yes, we currently only list property that can be found on the Midwest Real Estate Database (MRED); and only those properties that are within the state of Illinois.  MRED is the real estate data aggregator and distributor providing the Chicagoland multiple listing service (MLS) to nearly 40,000 brokers and appraisers and 8,000 offices.  MRED serves Chicago and the surrounding “collar” counties and provides property information encompassing northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin and northwest Indiana (however, we do NOT list outside the state of Illinois).

Why should I list with you?

If you spend just a little time researching other real estate brokers, you’ll immediately notice one significant difference: we offer the same MLS service for less – drastically less. That’s it – we give you the exact same MLS access, but for less cost. We’re well aware that your ultimate goal is to save money, and we’re confident we can provide you high quality, low cost service and marketing exposure.

What if I want to cancel my listing?

You may cancel your listing at anytime prior to your expiration date, there is no cancellation fee. If you cancel and list your home with one of our Full Service Affiliates and your home sells, you will receive a credit equal to your flat fee payment at closing (less the cost of any extras you may have purchased).

What if I need more help?

If, at any time, you realize that you’d like more guidance in the selling process with the services of a full-service Realtor, we will refer you to one of our many trusted agents and will refund the entire fee you paid to us at closing.

Do I need an attorney?

Absolutely. In Illinois, just like many other states, an attorney is an essential party that will help close the real estate transaction.  I have many contacts and will certainly refer you to a competent real estate attorney for legal representation.

Ok, what's the process?

First, select your MLS listing package. Once your payment is processed, we’ll be in contact to help you correctly price the property and give you an overview of the selling process. We’ll need you to complete a Listing Agreement, provide us your property characteristics, complete your required property disclosures, and send us photos of your property. As soon as everything is complete, usually within 24-48 hours, we’ll get you listed on the MLS.

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