Since the very beginning of being a flat fee broker, I have been surprised at how many traditional real estate agents use our flat fee listing service to sell their own properties. Yes, I think a flat fee MLS listing is an outstanding and incredible value, but I never really figured that agents who as their job ask people to pay 5%, 6% or more would not make sure they themselves paid that price when they sold their own properties.
One common question that comes up with our home sellers is "How do I make a counter proposal to an offer I have received?" First, it is helpful to review the basics of offer and acceptance in real estate:
Our company, actually the main website we advertise on http://FlatFeeMLSListing.com was featured in this excellent article for CNN Money recently. The article does a good job dispelling the misconception that flat fee MLS listing doesn't work in a buyers market. It tells how the stories of sellers putting their home on the market, getting 60 showings and 10 offers after the first weekend (yes, many of our sellers experienced those numbers a few years ago) are quite rare now that most markets favor the buyer over the seller right now.
It may surprise people to learn that we still get lots of questions about multiple offer situations. While the market has definitely slowed down in the past year or so, listings where two (or more) buyers competing to buy the property still happen. As my friend Pat Crosby, a 35+ year real estate veteran frequently said "a well-priced home that is well presented and in great area can sell quickly in any market conditions..." And yes, flat fee MLS listings are just as likely to see multiple offers as other listings.
As you may recall, I was interviewed back in December by a staff reporter for 60 Minutes (off camera, and no, not by Andy Rooney) for a story they were going to be doing on the current state of the real estate industry. I thought the story was going to run as early as February, and I kept watching for it, but I didn't see it. I asked around to others I knew had been interviewed and no one knew. At first I wondered if the topic just didn't make the cut and they were going to drop it. By April I was sure that was what happened.
I spend lots of my time being involved in local, state, and national Realtor Associations, whereas many flat fee brokers do not. The reason I serve on committees, travel to other cities (often Washington, DC), and spend other times working with Realtors is to strengthen my company's reputation. My work and involvement with traditional Realtors quite frankly makes them more likely to sell my sellers homes. A buyer agent who sees a familiar name as the listing broker has a higher level of comfort at showing that listing, as well as putting in a purchase agreement.
When I became a Flat Fee MLS Broker one thing I thought I would never do is be interviewed by a team of attorneys from the Competition Bureau of Canada. The Competition Bureau is the Canadian equivalent of our Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice. It was kind of flattering because they weren't in town for anything else but to interview me (granted it may be a few degrees warmer here than in Ottawa, but not worth a trip of that magnitude).
I was interviewed by the 60 Minutes CBS News program, which is not something that happens every day. It was an off camera interview, they were asking me questions about my business and the current state of the real estate industry. I appreciated that they came to me and it was a face to face interview. At first I was hoping I might get an on camera interview and maybe even appear in the piece, but that appears highly unlikely. I have to face the fact that I am just not flashy enough, not animated (except in my own subtle kind of way) to make a compelling story.
I was surprised when recently a flat fee MLS broker from a neighboring state faxed me the latest issue of the Real Estate Intelligence Report, a prominent industry magazine for real estate industry executives. I read with surprise the front page article all about my leadership in the flat fee MLS broker industry, my picture (oh, not that picture, I have to take that one off my website--professionals shouldn't be allowed to display photos from previous decades, but I digress...) and about how we have established a trade association for brokers who specialize in flat fee MLS listings.
Every great once and a while a concerned home seller asks us about this: "Do buyer agents boycott flat fee MLS listings?" or "Will an agent refuse to show a flat fee brokers'' listings?" The short answer is no, for the reasons listed below. Often, the only time a seller asks us this question is that they were talking to a traditional agent who wants them to pay a huge commission. The seller mentions they may use BuySelf.com to list their home.