The Multi-Listing Service, also known as the MLS is the lifeblood of the real estate world. Actually, there is not one MLS, even though it seems that way when real estate people talk about it. There many different multi-listing services, but whether you’re talking about one or several, their purpose remains important. Using a flat fee MLS service to list your house is all about getting the maximum amount of exposure for your home–especially if you’re doing a for sale by owner (FSBO).
Data Points to Keep in Mind
The MLS is the best way to get your home listing in front of prospective buyers and prospective agents. According to recent data, in 2015, 88% of people used a real estate agent to buy their home. That same year, 85% of home buyers found their home using the internet, their agent, or some combination of the two. Clearly, agents continue to play a vital role in the home buying process so you want to make it easy for them to find your listing.
At the same time, the internet has emerged as a game changer in the world of real estate. Although there are tons of different home listing sites, the overwhelming majority of the home search traffic (we’re talking +90%) goes to a small handful of sites: Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, Realtor.com, Homes.com, and maybe throw Yahoo Homes in there as well.
How the MLS Works
More than anything, the MLS is a database these days. That said, it’s a very powerful database. Websites like Zillow and Trulia connect to the MLS and pull home listing data from it. The data from the MLS does not look all pretty like it does on these sites, and it’s not always easy to find stuff.
These sites take the MLS data and make it easy to find and use. This is the primary role of the MLS today. It serves as a syndication database for the popular real estate sites on the internet.
Don’t Let the Numbers Fool You
Regardless of whether you’re selling your own home and looking for a flat fee MLS listing or a free MLS listing the number one thing to pay attention to is the service’s distribution network. Some MLS services might advertise 100+ site distribution while others might offer 500+. You want to choose a service that distributes information to as many of the big sites as possible.
This translates into more exposure for your home.
Selecting a Flat Fee MLS Service
There are a lot of different MLS listing services out there that will let you create a database entry. We think this is a great option, especially for FSBO sellers. One of the things to be aware of with flat fee MLS or free MLS listing services is that they typically provide access to a listing. But they do not always provide help creating the listing itself. We’ve found Redefy to be a good flat fee MLS company.
Prime the Pump
Knowing this going into the selection process can save you a lot of frustration down the line.
The MLS is a powerful tool for FSBO sellers because it gives them an opportunity to tell potential buyers and agents what they can expect when buying your home. Some agents may be wary of an FSBO listing.
Your MLS listing is your chance to reduce buyer agent concerns. Be transparent with transaction details. Are you planning to use a lawyer, or to prepare documents yourself, or to use a title company? This is where you can let buyer agents know that you’re willing to pay a buyer agent commission, or that you’re using a showing service. After all, real estate agents work on contingency, so they have an interest in ensuring as many of their transactions as possible are quick and easy.
If you have questions about the MLS, where it syndicates, or if you’re in one of our markets and would like help figuring out which MLS is the best fit for you, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.