Traditionally, real estate listings fall under the duties of brokers or agents who charge a commission on the final sale price of a home as their fee. Sellers who want to save a chunk of that money can now instead use a flat fee listing agent. Before doing so, however, sellers should be aware of a few caveats involving flat fee listings.
Level of Service
Not all flat fee listings offer the same level of service. While some may give you a full-service sale, others may only list your home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), requiring all communication to occur via e-mail. This requirement can prove troublesome because interested buyer who call the listed number will likely reach voice mail, and you may lose the sale. You may also find it difficult to schedule a face-to-face meeting with your agent or broker in case you have questions or concerns.
Difficult or Incompetent Brokers and Agents
Finding a flat fee listing agent online can prove cost effective and save a great deal of time. However, some of these websites use an auction-like system that assigns you to the lowest-bidding agent. Though the system may assign you to an effective agent, others may have generated large numbers of complaints or simply be someone with whom other agents don't like working. These potential problems could affect your ability to have your home sold. Always check your agent's reputation before agreeing to have her sell your home.
The United States has more than 800 MLSs as of 2011. Each covers a certain area and imposes fees involved with listing your home for sale. Since the MLS serves as the primary way other agents will see your home for sale to recommend to their buyers, you must ensure a proper listing. In an effort to save money, some flat fee listers may list you on a less-expensive MLS that does not cover your area. As a result, potential buyers in your area may not have the occasion to learn about your potential sale, making it harder or impossible to sell your home.
Traditional Agents Not Showing Your Home to Clients
Agents who collect large sums from the traditional percentage fee often feel threatened by flat fee listers. Flat fee listing agents cut drastically into their business and income because they provide a similar service at a much smaller cost, which sellers like. For this reason, some will refuse to show houses listed by flat fee agents to their clients. The market of potential buyers shrinks heavily due to this type of practice, which could delay your sale.
Melissa Martinez has been a freelance writer and copy editor since 2003. She specializes in Web content and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle" and is now the section editor for a minor league sports news wire. She attended Seattle University.