El Paso is unique: its location in West Texas and the Mountain Time Zone is actually closer to the State of California than it is to Texas's Eastern neighbor, the State of Louisiana. The closeness of El Paso to its neighbor Ciudad Juarez and the presence of more than 70 Fortune 500 businesses, major military installations like Fort Bliss, and the beautiful grandeur of the nearby Franklin Mountains add to the uniqueness of the city. What is not unique about El Paso is a real estate market that steadily increased in value in recent years, and with it, steadily increasing real estate listing commissions that were based on a percentage of sales price.
For many people in El Paso, the size of real estate commissions made no sense. The tenured professor at the University of Texas - El Paso wondered what his listing agent was doing to justify a $25,000 commission based on the limited amount of education his agent had completed. The non-commissioned officer getting his orders to transfer from Fort Bliss to California wondered why the commission would essentially equal 100% of the increase in value his property had appreciated in the last two years. A customer service representative at Echostar wanted to move closer to work to conserve gas and improve quality-of-life, but high transaction costs, especially commissions, made it highly unlikely that she could afford to sell her home and buy another one. A local homebuilder wanted to sell more homes, but realized that every dollar captured by the real estate agent is one less dollar available to purchase one of his homes.
El Pasoans from all walks of likes and with homes of virtually any price point could benefit from a flat fee MLS listing program. The way it works is simple. Rather than pay a listing agent a commission (which is often split with a buyer's agent), a seller pays a listing agent a small flat fee to get the seller's property on the MLS; the seller offers a commission to the buyer's agent if and only if the buyer's agent brings a buyer that successfully purchases the seller's homes. Commission savings realized by El Paso homeowners can vary from about one-half to almost the entire commission a competing broker may have charged. For many in El Paso, the decision to hire a flat fee MLS broker is a no-brainer. They want the exposure to the marketplace that the MLS provides. They do not want to pay extremely high commissions to gain access. The flat fee MLS listing provides them the right mix of exposure with commission savings.
All sellers should at least consider a flat fee MLS program. If they do not like the program and would rather pay a traditional broker a larger commission, by all means that is their choice. However, making an educated and informed decision should at a minimum entail visiting a flat fee MLS company website and speaking with that broker on the phone to see exactly what to expect and whether it meets the seller's needs.
Donald Plunkett is the President of Congress Realty, a flat fee listing company which serves El Paso, Texas and over 50 other Western markets. More info: http://www.congressrealty.com