Flat Fee Listing 101 – Get the Facts Before Listing Your Florida FSBO Flat Fee on MLS!

Who are you going to believe about how the flat rate MLS industry works?

There are four “business models” that offer flat fee MLS listings in Florida:

1) national website: They are not licensed in Florida, but they collect money and then refer it to a Florida discount real estate broker, who receives a portion of the fees charged. National websites are competent business firms that generally hold a real estate broker’s license in one state but not all states.

2) Florida Part Time Hobbyist Flat Fee Website: There must be about 70 of these “websites” in Florida. They are either licensed real estate brokers who do flat fee listings part time or are testing the waters to see if they can make a few bucks on a flat fee.

3) Florida broker posing as a flat fee: They seem like a flat fee, but their business model is not consumer friendly and I see their business practices as questionable. They can or do take their leads from Realtor.com and other sources for their own agents; or possibly charge a cancellation fee of up to $500; or hold your listing hostage until you pay ($500) by only “conditionally” removing your listing from the MLS if you try to cancel and move to a full service agent; your listing will be stuck in this “conditional” status until you pay the $500 ransom.

4) Florida licensed flat fee MLS broker who is established, trustworthy, transparent and paperless, specializes in internet marketing and offers real customer support.
(Note: There is more than one MLS fixed fee trust firm in Florida, but there are also many firms that fall into categories #2 and #3 above.)

Flat rate MLS requires more than just entering a listing on a local MLS…

1) Florida Flat Fee MLS Sellers are 100% control driven. They want their MLS listing to be correct at all times.

2) Third party websites like Realtor.com, local MLS systems, and IDX feeds for local real estate brokerage firms need to be constantly monitored because listings fall outside of these systems. Technical glitches happen frequently.

3) Sellers make adjustments to their listing, such as images, price, commission, and descriptions of their properties. Forms such as mold, lead-based paint, and property disclosures are needed.

4) Florida Flat fee MLS broker has the responsibility of capturing leads, displaying agent requests, internet marketing, problem solving, customer service, negotiating, editing and peace making. Flat fee MLS brokers must be prepared to put in their time and energy.

Flat fee MLS brokers should be prepared to spend their time and energy…

1) Taking $200 bucks and launching a listing on the MLS as an afterthought is not what the flat fee should be about. There are more moving parts that go into a “real” flat rate MLS company than one might imagine. Case in point: Last week, Orlando Regional MLS took over the Venice Board of Realtors. When they did this conversion, it removed 53 “displayed” properties from Realtor.com from the Mid-Florida Regional (Orlando area). It happened on a Thursday night and required the resources of the Mid-Florida Regional Vice President and Director of Operations and many phone calls to fix the main technical problem.

2) Amateur or part-time MLS “website” operators may not have the resources or experience to deal with these issues.

3) The flat fee MLS broker must be prepared to support the client and market effectively on the Internet.

4) If the MLS discount broker asks you to print forms, fill them out and fax them, this means they haven’t thought about or invested in online automation. This means that changes to the list, editing, status changes will be faxed to this, to that fax… back to the caveman days.

What to consider before publishing a flat rate

1) If the flat rate MLS “website” doesn’t show the “listing agreement” that should be a warning.

2) Please read the listing agreement carefully “from start to finish” before giving money to any flat rate company, whether it is a national service or based in Florida.

3) Understand the process and policy for how potential buyers from Realtor.com and other sources reach you, the seller, if at all.

4) Keep in mind that many calls go to the flat rate broker. Up to 70 calls a day can come in at a flat rate MLS broker. Miss one, that could be your sale.

5) Consider and check what the hours are for the flat rate MLS service.

6) Flat fee websites that offer only one marketing option are really just a “website”. There are many marketing approaches besides just a basic MLS listing. What about direct marketing to Realtors®? For example, if a seller wants to offer a 4% buyer’s agent commission, does the flat rate service provide a way to promote this above-average commission? Some flat rate services offer a real estate eblast program that sends around 12,000 emails to every real estate agent in Ft Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando, and Jacksonville every 15 days. This is an effective marketing approach and real estate agents respond.

7) Flat rate sellers need to think about contract representation. Contract-to-closing flat-rate programs help close the deal faster. Having an experienced real estate professional handle the contract negotiations results in a smoother transaction for the seller, too, possibly leading to a higher sale. One of the trickier parts of the negotiations is the potential renegotiations after the inspection. Negotiating an inspection report means reroofing the house because some inspector or Realtor® says the roof is at the end of its useful life. There is an art to getting the buyer’s agent, buyer, and seller on the same page. Also, there are some important nuances that help get more Realtor® showings, like allowing the flat fee broker to schedule showings (more professional), using an Exclusive Right to Sell (not an Exclusive Agency Listing Agreement), and using a professional looking metal sign.

How to List Flat Rates in Florida and Stay Out of Trouble

1) Read the listing agreement.

2) Call the flat rate service and ask how they handle leads.

3) Call and verify hours of operation.

4) Ask if there are any penalties or conditions if you cancel the listing.

5) Ask if the listing company will “unconditionally” withdraw your MLS listing if you choose to cancel and find a full service agent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *