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For Sale By Owner Mls

Feb 20, 2008
The term 'for sale by owner MLS' is somewhat of a contraction; after all, 'for sale by owner' means there is no broker involved in the sale while 'MLS' is a shared database of brokerage listings. While the two seem contradictory, they are becoming less so. Through flat fee listing services, there is a hybrid type of listing that it is now available to homeowners. Rather than pay a listing commission, homeowners can pay a flat fee to a broker-member of the MLS who then lists the property for sale as a brokerage listing. There is also a co-broke or co-op commission offered to any other member of the MLS, frequently two and one-half to three percent. The savings take place because the listing broker does not receive a commission at closing; this number is frequently in the thousands. While the property is technically not a 'for sale by owner' since it is both listed by a broker and contractually offering a commission to a buyer's broker (also known as a selling broker), it does have some similar characteristics.

The owner is basically in control of the listing. This includes such matters as pricing, showings, and negotiations. Additionally, the seller can see to it that the property is marketed in a way that is suitable to them. This might be as simple as approving the marketing remarks on the listings to taking and selecting the best photographs of the property, to even placing an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal. Since the homeowner is truly in control of the listings, the decision to market the property beyond the MLS is up to them. Most homeowners, realizing that 80-90% of the homes will sell through the MLS anyway and that many advertisements generate buyer leads and/or interest in a particular market or area but do not directly lead to a sale, opt to just stick with the MLS listing. The data from the MLS listing often feeds automatically into other major portals and local newspaper sites which many times have an agreement to display limited listing information at no charge to home browsers and buyers, offering additional exposure.

These types of flat fee listings are also powerful in that the key benefit of being a 'for sale by owner,' namely avoiding commissions altogether by selling the property to an unrepresented buyer, remains in tact. Just because the property is listed in the MLS does not mean that the seller has to only sell to a buyer with a buyer's broker. If approached by an unrepresented buyer, the seller can weigh the potential savings and ability of the buyer to close the deal and decide whether or not to accept the offer. Since many buyers realize that a pure seller-to-buyer transaction with no middlemen will save the seller money, the offers they place forward often expect some type of savings compared to other comparables. As such, the focus on any offer needs to look at the bottom line proceeds to the seller, whether the offer is coming from an unrepresented (one coming in the 'for sale by owner' fashion) or represented (one coming from the MLS) buyer.
About the Author
Donald Plunkett is the President of Congress Realty, an 11-state flat fee listing company that appeals to a customer who wants a for sale by owner MLS type of listing.
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