Why pay a real estate agent versus flat fee listing?

Flat Fee ServiceA “For Sale By Owner” recently asked me “Why should I pay you a percentage of the sales price to put the house in the MLS when I can pay a few hundred dollars for a flat fee listing?”  Isn’t the Multiple Listing System or MLS the way you sell your property?  The MLS does provide a valuable platform in which to market, but it is just the start of a journey to the closing table.  Here are seven reasons you may want “full” listing service.

1.  Security:  I recently previewed a For Sale By Owner or (FSBO, pronounced Fisbo) as Realtors call them.  The owner left work on lunch break and she was meeting me.  Her husband was going to meet with me as well, but he could not leave a work meeting.  So she left him connected on a cell phone call while I looked at the house.  It is a very limiting factor to be present at each showing.  You may even put a lockbox on your door.  But which potential buyers do you give the code to?

2. Showing:  A buyer needs to see the “house” as their “home”.  They need to be able to say “I can see myself living here.”  When the owner is present there is a shift of mind that goes into hospitality and an underlying respect of “oh, you really like that Barney purple wallpaper and chose it for your living room, ….how lovely…”  If an owner is present it adds an additional emotional layer to the walk through.

3. Time:  There is work involved getting people to visit spaces to make the buying decision.  Gas is burned, meetings are missed, Open Houses need hosting, etc. Your time is valuable.  How many ballgames are you willing to miss to save some money?

4. Marketing:  The MLS is a great start and is a gateway to many sites like Realtor.com, but it is just the start.  Relationships and trust are the value that your listing agent brings to your table.  Reaching out to other real estate agents is vital to your sale.  Your credibility is unknown to the the other agents.  The agents bringing a buyer assume that they will have to do ALL your work that a “typical” listing agent would do to handle all paperwork, closing arrangements, and scheduled inspections, moving, etc.

5. Staging:  How many houses have you been in lately?  Your winning the next buyer means that your pad trumped all the others.  This is competitive.  The buyer has choices.  A good listing agent has seen lots of houses and knows how to make yours stand out.

6. Pricing:  Are you leaving money on the table? or are you pricing so high that few people bother to schedule a showing?  Constant monitoring of the market and seeing many places is knowledge.  Knowledge is power when pricing to sell.

7. Success:  4,120 homes sold in Hamilton County that were listed in 2012.  37 of them were marked as MLS Entry Only listings.

I met recently a retired couple at their home in East Brainerd.  They had recently experienced success with a MLS Entry service.  He told me that on average they spent $78 monthly in newspaper advertising for the better part of three years and really had not added up the cost of time for Open Houses and showings, etc. The couple said they were surprised at how people “lied” to them about following up, etc.  He looked a little surprised when I asked him if he had considered getting his license and using his new skills to help others.  Selling your own home is not rocket science (thank goodness, I would not have a job), but it does take work, patience dealing with the public, and some experience is a good thing as well.