How do I choose a flat-fee MLS listing service (FSBO)?

blog_post_houseI recently listed my Massachusetts home on MLS, but I’m not using a real estate agent to sell my property. Since I wanted to list on MLS without a realtor, my biggest question was "What MLS listing service should I use?" Doing a listing For Sale By Owner (FSBO), I want a flat-fee MLS listing service that has a good online presence as well as a history of quality person-to-person customer support. It seems like none of the flat fee MLS listing services have any 3rd party reviews online.

There also seems to be a general divide between key offerings – companies that offer barebones, no feature service for under $200, and other companies that offer a variety of packages and features starting at $300. The sub-$200 packages seem extremely risky and could wind up being useless if you enter your listing information wrong. The $300 and up packages tend to allow you to make updates at no or low extra cost, and include features like including your open house listing along with your for sale listing on MLS. These are important considerations when doing For Sale By Owner.

Long story short, I ended up using buyself.com and was very pleased with them. Read below for my details of my process in searching for a service provider.

Below I will briefly discuss some of the other companies that I also researched. You can find a list of URLs to more reviews for flat fee MLS services here: http://www.flatfeereviews.com/index.php?topic=2.0.


I was extremely tempted to use bloomkey.com – I even starting going through the checkout process with their MLS package. Their site seems to offer all the right features and in a timely manner, too. However, I could not find any real reviews of the company online (other than what the website posts on its own pages). Additionally, their Alexa web traffic ranking was pretty bad at 1,948,035 (with a rank of 1 being the best). Although these Alexa rankings often can be misleading, they are still usually a good indicator of how mainstream a company is. Bloomkey’s ranking of nearly 2 million means that they get about as much web traffic as a typical personal blog does, and probably means that the company has only a couple of people working for it.

I also found other sites like flatfeemls.com and flatfeelisting.com, which were my next 2 choices since I was able to find 1 or 2 user reviews for them (although that’s still not great). My hesitation with these companies was that there was never any information regarding what forms you need to fill out (especially with flatfeemls.com), or extremely slow process for getting the paperwork, submitting it, and getting the listing to be active. At least flatfeelisting.com has an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

The flat fee service getmoreoffers.com has a lot more reviews online, all of them positive. However, getmoreoffers.com is primarily only for listing in Florida, even though they offer their services for all states. For me this uncovered another consideration that I needed to make – does the offered service change depending on which state you live in? Indeed it does. For example, if you want to list your open house details on your local MLS, then you might be out of luck with some of these services that are based in other states. This is the case with realmartrealty.com (also an A+ BBB rating, but based in New Jersey).

When I was trying to find online reviews for one of the above companies, I actually found a YouTube video for a different company – buyself.com (apparently operated by parent website flatfeemlslisting.com, but not to be confused with the similarly named flatfeelisting.com that I previously described). They also have an A+ rating on BBB. This seems to be the company with the longest history that I could find (they have been offering this service since 1998), best customer service responsiveness, supports same-day rush listing if necessary, has a few online user reviews (all positive) and includes a lockbox. click to go to it) and for sale sign as part of their "Standard Package". This immediately became my favorite choice. However, I noticed that they had different versions of their website, like having open house options available in Tennessee (even though they are based in Minnesota… ?) For my state of Massachusetts, the web site gave no indications of being able to schedule my open house as part of the MLS listing. I called the number on their site (several times, they starting answering their phone after 10:30am EDT) to ask about this – and apparently they don’t list an open house option as a separate add-on because it already comes for free with their "Standard Package". I called them several times, each time they picked up the phone immediately.

I decided to go with buyself.com. I liked that I was able to get them on the phone, receive more options for a lower price ($299), get same-day rush processing (no extra cost), and have a company with a long history and good BBB rating. Sure enough, I ordered their package at 10:45am (EDT), and by 6:00pm the same day I had an active MLS listing and open house scheduled for the upcoming weekend. After ordering, they contact an MLS entry-only agent local to my area to handle the listing, and this person was also always immediately available on the phone without being placed on hold (and I called them about 10 times throughout the day, too!) The lockbox they sent me is pictured here, it is the kind you see at a lot of homes and was good quality (click to go to it). The “for sale” sign was not very professional looking, I would suggest getting a beefier, metal sign at your local hardware store.

I’ve only covered these companies briefly. You can find a list of URLs to more in-depth reviews for flat fee MLS services here: http://www.flatfeereviews.com/index.php?topic=2.0

If you have more information about any of these companies, any other companies, or have any other questions or comments about this topic, please add to the forum at www.flatfeereviews.com and we’ll try to get more information available to everyone!

82 thoughts on “How do I choose a flat-fee MLS listing service (FSBO)?”

  1. Curious how Buyself.com compares to Owners.com. One thing I like about Owners.com was that it was referred and exclusive to Zillow.com. Buyself.com seems very comparable excluding that fact, and is less expensive.

    1. I had noticed the same thing before I ordered my listing package from BuySelf. It seemed like I couldn’t find out anything about Owners.com from 3rd-party sources, though, despite being referred by Zillow. BuySelf was less expense, came with the lockbox and sign, allows unlimited changes to the listing (included in the cost), and had excellent customer service. If you couldn’t get a hold of your locally-assigned agent, I bet you wouldn’t have a problem getting BuySelf to take care the problem directly.

    1. Hi Rob,

      No, have not sold the house yet. We usually have a couple showings every weekend. As we have gone through this process (we are first-time homeowners), we have discovered some of the dynamics that will affect how quickly a house will sell, whether through a Realtor or on your own. First, try to find out how quickly similar home in your area are selling. As it turns out, home in our area have been selling very quickly for the most part. Second, make sure that your price is not much higher than what similar homes in the area have sold for. Third, is your home a “starter” home, or a home with many “updates”? Our home has not been renovated or refinished since it was built in 1967. That means that although it is in great shape, it doesn’t have all of the granite countertops, new cabinets, tile floors, etc that most buyers in our area are looking for.

      If you are considering selling your home on your own, these are things to consider and will weigh heavy on you if you find you home not selling very quickly. All homes are not created equal. We have friends who sell their home on their own every time they move, and have no problems selling quickly.

  2. Thank you so much! Trying to figure out how to list on the MLS ourselves and there are so many scams out there!!! It is so hard to find a review but this post is AMAZING! Thank you!

  3. Hi Mike-

    I am starting out the process of putting our house on the market (also in Massachusetts! Hopefully our homes will not be competing) and wanted to thank you for posting something about this. I was surprised at how little there was out there given that most people who are buying and selling homes (ages 30-50) are very computer savvy and use the Internet for everything!! Good luck on selling your house!

  4. The best experience I ever got with a flat fee service has to be with isellmyhome.ca

    If I would ever sell again I would definitely go back with them.

  5. Hi Mike, and thanks so much for this site. It was very helpful when I was researching which flat fee listing service to use.

    I decided to go with http://www.FlatFeeListing.com, and since my house closed today, I now have a lengthy review that I can post. Would it be better to post it here or at the flatfeereviews.com site?

    1. Hi Rebecca,

      Congratulations on your house closing with a flat-fee listing! If you want to post a review for the service you used, you can either submit it at flatfeereviews.com, or you can email your review to me and I’ll put it on the site for you. I’ll send you an email shortly in case you want to email me the review…

      Thanks,
      Mike

    2. Hi Rebecca,

      Did you post your review of flat fee listing.com? I am very interested to hear how your experience was

    3. Hi Rebecca, We’re very interested in learning about how your house sale went with Flatfeelisting.com. we’re trying to sell our house in Alexandria VA and with our limited amount of equity, it behooves us to try to sell ourselves. Where can we see your review? And congratulations on having sold your own home!

      Victoria
      Or email us at: decorstore@bfresco.com

  6. I would recommend listing with an actual local broker. You can find their direct websites if you google search locally. You mentioned your house was in Massachusetts, there are a few local Massachusetts listing brokers like http://forsalebyownermass.com/ , http://thegreenerealtygroup.com/list-on-mls.asp , http://www.isoldmyhouse.com/ etc Same with any area in the United States. In some cases you may even be able to walk into the brokers local office and fill out your entry only listing agreement there. With all these national flat fee companies like buyself.com, it’s basically like playing the auto-insurance game. They’re just basically brokering/referring out your listing to a local flat fee broker. And you’re stuck paying that extra fee. That’s how all those national Flat Fee MLS websites work. They compete against each other online, yet they all pass your listing over to the same local flat fee brokers. The problem is if you want to make changes to your listing on the MLS you don’t get to speak to the website where you initially paid. They’ve taken their fee of your payment already and have passed your listing off to the local broker to MLS list it. The local broker might have their set fees for changing prices/photos on the mls. So I suggest to search a little harder by typing in your “city” name followed by “flat fee mls” in google and find a local broker not a national Flat Fee MLS referral company. There are thousands of MLS’ in the United States. Not 1 national company/website is a member of every single MLS. So naturally, they just refer your listing out. Alot of homeowners don’t know this is the case. Same with auto-insurance. I’ve been screwed many times paying the extra brokers fees. Once, the actual insurance broker I ended up with even told me that the national insurance referral company I found online way overcharged me. So try to go direct. Find a local flat fee mls broker.

  7. The best way to choose a fsbo company is to find one with variable products and services that you can pay for if you need them. For example, if you don’t need help, you simply pay the $199 or $299 fee and you are done. The gradient approach is best, find a service that will provide you with the documents that you may need, counter offer and disclosure forms, etc. for a nominal fee. Additionally, you may find a company that for $500 will provide you with the forms and advice during the entire sale and escrow process. Flexibility of the FSBO company is key. If you need more information look at the website betchleyrealtygroup.com. There is lots of helpful advice. You can call them as well.

  8. List directly with a local flat fee broker. You can easily find them by google searching for their websites. Don’t be fooled by the paid ads. Those are national flat fee mls website all competing to make a piece of your listing.

    If you ever need to make any changes to your listing on the MLS that all has to be done through the local broker anyways, these national referral companies just take your money and pass you along.

    You can easily find local flat fee mls brokers in every state. Example, Massachusetts has: http://forsalebyownermass.com/ , http://thegreenerealtygroup.com/list-on-mls.asp , http://isoldmyhouse.com/.

    I have no idea why someone would use buyself.com instead of going direct.

  9. First, great info. I agree. The first time we got a home, we used a realtor. Back then, there were no choices. When we sold our home, we needed to save as much money as possible. I had lost my job during the recession and money was critical. We ended up using a company in Dallas. It worked like a charm. I cannot say that every flat fee listing is good, but they sure were. We went with flat fee listing.com. I would say, check around. Do a FSBO or use a good flat fee listing company. Whatever works for you and your family. Have a great day everyone.

  10. First, great article. Second, I think that there are a lot of really good flat fee listing companies out there. If you are looking for a flat fee listing service you should check around and find one that can answer your questions and meet your needs. Take your time and get a flat fee listing that works for you. Again, thanks for the great article.

  11. The days of real estate agents are numbered. Like anything sold, pricing and presentation are 80% of the success formula. Property sales have some nuances but nothing overwhelming.

    The Flat Fee MLS places still introduce real estate agents into the equation and I know I’m not alone with my disdain for 90% of these Mult-Level-Marketing Memebers.

    So after 15 years, 1,000~ish real estate deals completed I created http://www.noFeeRealEstateSales.com as The Industry Disrupter.

    It’s free start to finish, no catch. Just a sincere interest I’m helping already competent people fill I a few critical gaps where needed along the sales way.

    Good luck everyone and come check me out…. I’m just getting started.

    Best Wishes,
    a.

  12. So my question is this… once you’re listed what is the support like in regards to actually completing the sale? Do these companies provide sincere and competent consultation related to pricing a property for sale, marketing, presentation, negotiation and closing of the property?

    it’s still on MLS so are commissions offered to buyers brokers?

    Seems like a package you may buy for $250 may wind up ending double with upgrades and listing change fees?

    Best Wishes,
    a.

    1. Anthony,

      If you’re going for a flat fee MLS listing, you should assume they won’t provide any consultation regarding your home, but they will provide support regarding the listing process, forms, updates, etc. Negotiation is not offered, nor is closing of the property. A for sale by owner home is exactly that – all the non-MLS minutia is handled by yourself.

      It is on MLS, so yes, you have to pay the buyer’s broker fees.

      Many $250 packages (including the one I purchased) include unlimited listing changes / open house announcements / etc for free. You just have to make sure that they say that its unlimited changes for free.

      1. Thanks Mike.

        I appreciate the feedback.

        If ya took a peek you may note I’m launching my own FSBO effort that’s incepted to be an educational, coaching and independent marketplace all for no cost.

        All that being said I’ve been a dominant real estate agent in my market for several years so naturally I figured my announcement of a no fee service would drop the hammer on the market and every listing would be mine…. We’ll guess what??? Not really. I’ve found my self arguing with sellers “not to pay a commission” LoL… After 15 years as a “6% assassin” it’s been a hoot. I also work one of those “ritzy” markets where people don’t mind paying for service. One of the key reasons I choose to specialize in #DowntownWPB (West Palm Beach Florida) cause I’ve always known in the back of my mind I wasn’t doing anything a seller couldn’t do on their own.

        Best Wishes,
        a.

      2. Anthony,

        Thanks for the link to buyself.com. Where on their website can I find the package that includes unlimted listing changes.open house announcements for free? When I click on my Illinois county I don’t see that option any where.

        Thanks!

        1. Shawn,

          I had the same problem – for my state they didn’t say if that option was included, although they did list it for other states. I ended up calling them to check for sure, at which point they confirmed that the option was included. You should call them to find out.

          Good luck,
          Mike

  13. Next time, give NoMoreAgent.com a shot. They have superb customer service, guides, tools, extras, etc and they’re affordable! I sold my home in 4 days on the MLS.

  14. I own a flat rate site as a referral service, and make myself available to my flat fee clients. I was a mortgage broker for 10 years and have bought and sold many homes myself. I know that many flat fee services have what appear to be very low fees or have deep pockets and pay to get high rankings on search engines, but when you go to place an order many times there are hidden fees at close for the listing agent called admin fee or .5% etc. Some also charge for updates to your listing and even have you go meet a broker at there office where you are pressured to list or give buyers agent higher commission than the 1% minimum. I am proud of my service because our broker signs all paperwork electronically for 30 states and you don’t have to go to an office or print, mail, scan or fax paperwork back, updates are free, and there is only one flat fee with no back-end percentages for the listing agent. Only pay a buyers agent 1-4% and all buyers without an agent are referred to you! Some flat rate programs actually refer buyer inquiries to buyer agents! $299 is our fee and gets you on realtor com trulia zillow 100’s of fsbo and real estate sites! 417-771-5458 Jamie Mattingly

  15. Interesting stuff. I just listed my home on NoMoreAgent.com’s premier plan (Flat-Fee MLS). So far so good. Their site is easy, I’ve gotten a couple of interested parties, and their customer service is amazing.

      1. Ditto. After seeing them listed on here I signed up too. Sold my home in 24 hours. Florida is a hot market right now so don’t expect the same results, but I had zero complaints about Nomoreagent.

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