What is an MLS listing service? An MLS listing service is a service provided by a licensed broker-member of your local MLS, whereby your property is placed on the MLS database for a flat fee. In many ways, it is like listing your property in the MLS while maintaining For Sale By Owner status. I say “like" because technically you are no longer a true For Sale By Owner. Being listed by a broker allows you a number of benefits, though. While you still can handle your own negotiations of contracts, you have access to state association-approved Realtor® purchase contracts and other forms. These forms have been refined and are catered to a particular state and/or area. Additionally, being listed in the MLS allows a seller to offer a commission to any broker-member who brings a buyer that successfully purchases the property. The amount is determined at the time of listing; 2.5 to 3 percent of the purchase price is not uncommon, although there is no set amount required. Some sellers do not like to be required to offer anything to a buyer's agent, or like the flexibility to offer whatever they feel like at that time. It is important to understand how the system works, however, and that offering a set amount of commission upfront will allow not just one Realtor® but the entire Realtor® community to seek out buyers and show them your home with confidence that they will be paid an upfront, agreed upon amount. In a way, you are hiring an entire sales force to help sell your home.
It is important to understand that all MLS's are local. Being placed on the Phoenix, Arizona MLS (called the Arizona Regional MLS) will not benefit a seller in Payson, Arizona very much; their home should be placed on the Payson, Arizona MLS (called the Central Arizona Board of Realtors® MLS). Even if your buyer is coming from Phoenix to relocate or to purchase a vacation home, they generally hire a local Payson-area broker to show them homes. If they hired a Phoenix broker without Payson MLS access, they would probably quickly get frustrated when they realized that broker had no access to the local MLS database. Websites that display listings for a particular area have data sharing agreements with the local MLS for that area to display those listings. For instance, various newspaper websites receive an MLS data feed from their local area MLS.
Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to MLS listing service, is that you want to make sure that the broker providing this service has experience providing this service and will continue to provide this service in the future. As many people are aware, becoming a real estate agent is a lifestyle choice as much as a job choice and false expectations and the sheer number of competing agents leads to tremendous turnover in the industry. Many agents join the industry, dabble in a few different niches with limited success, then drop out when they realize that reality does not match their expectations.
Donald Plunkett of Congress Realty is a leading MLS listing service provider in the Western United States. His flat fee MLS listing program was featured in Realtor Magazine, ABC News, MarketWatch and in other media. More info: http://www.congressrealty.com