I recently came across a flat fee listing from a well known, large flat fee MLS listing brokerage. This company probably has the fanciest looking website out there, and they market their service really well. If only they could market their MLS listings as well. This listing had so many mistakes on it. Now when I say mistakes I do not mean typos or showing 2 bedrooms instead of 4. The mistakes I saw were mistakes in agent friendliness—this listing would quickly convince any buyer agent to not show the property.
This past Sunday there was an excellent Sunday Feature Article in the Real Estate Section of the Sunday Newspaper in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The article quoted BuySelf Realty Lead Broker Albert Hepp and was entitled "By owner or with broker: Home sellers have options." The author, Maryann Bouche, clearly did her research.
Some people have a misconception that only experienced, sophisticated, and savvy home sellers should use flat fee home sales to sell. Not so. BuySelf Realty's services are designed for the first time home seller with no knowledge of real estate. Here are some other types of sellers and situations that successfully use BuySelf Realty:
The sad truth is that most flat fee MLS listings confuse, alienate, or repel the majority of buyers. Even worse, the flat fee seller doesn't know how repulsive their listing is, because buyers/agents don't contact sellers to explain why they won't view the property. Not only does the seller not know their listing stinks, there isn't any way for them to learn how to improve their listing. So all the seller knows is that their house isn't selling. Is it the price? Am I listed in the right MLS (Multiple Listing Service)?
As a flat fee home sale Broker, we focus on communicating what is included in our service. The other day someone asked the opposite question—what is not included in a flat fee listing? That is a really good question, so let's have at it:
First, let's eliminate some misconceptions about what is included in traditional Realtor service with the huge commission.
What is not included with traditional agent listings or flat fee MLS listings:
In general, the answer is yes, if you want a buyer, it should be on the market. Buyer activity will likely slow down, sometimes to little or nothing. Many sellers do remove their listings, so the number of competing listings goes down. A substantial number of houses still sell during the slow times, often the active buyers are very motivated. The "need to buy" buyers are still out there, while some "want to buy" buyers are too busy to look at homes, so the numbers of showings declines.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lawsuit against an MLS that hid listings by discount brokers is over. It is an illegal restraint of trade for an MLS to hide or disadvantage flat fee MLS listings. Albert Hepp testified in the original 2007 case, where the MLS won. It was reversed on appeal in a unanimous 4-0 ruling of a four Judge panel, and then the US Court of Appeals agreed that hiding listings was illegal. The Realcomp MLS then appealed to the United States Supreme Court, and the Court just announced that it will not review the ruling.
Photographs are a key link the chain from getting a buyer or agent interested enough in your property that they will set up a showing. Good photos motivate buyers to view a property in person, and the best photos create an expectation that this is the property the buyer expects to buy. During the buyers market when competition (other for sale listings) is plentiful, buyers don't want to look at every home in their price range. Buyers look at the listings that have the best photos.
When a home seller has a showing scheduled by an agent, some sellers feel the urge to be there. This is a mistake, one of the biggest mistakes a seller can make. Some sellers feel like they should be there to show the property, because no one knows the property better then they do. They want to be available to answer questions right there and then. The seller wants to make sure the buyers notice the best elements of the property (in the seller's opinion, that is). And it is their home, so some sellers would feel more comfortable being there just to keep an eye on what happens.
It is striking to me, that so many flat fee brokers have zero online customer reviews, or only complaints. How can this be?