Home Improvement

Full-Service vs. Flat Fee Realtors

Selling your house may seem like a Herculean task if you do it all on your own, but there are many ways of saving the sweat – and your money – along the way. Of course, there is the traditional way of employing a full-service real estate agent who will provide end-to-end services, but that will cost you a pretty penny. If you wish to save on your hard-earned cash, you may want to choose between discount realtors, FSBO (For sale by owner) websites, or check out a flat-fee agency. Since most of all our operations have gone online, searching for an offline agent too can now be done online through sites like UpNest and Clever real estate reviews.

Listing as FSBO

The DIY approach may be more suitable for seasoned sellers; however, most still require marketing assistance and help during the paperwork. For such sellers, it’s better to get listed on For Sale By Owner websites. There are multiple sites like Houzeo, Zillow, and FSBO, wherein you may list as FSBO, and save on the agent commissions and other fees. But statistics show that such properties usually take much more time to sell and the longer time it remains on the market, the lesser price you get eventually.

Listing with a full-service realtor

A traditional full-service real estate agency offers all services right from home valuation, repair assistance, effective pricing, photography, marketing, handling calls, showing the place, negotiating, handling the paperwork, and legal work, and finally closing the deal. It can cost anywhere between 5% and 7% depending on the location and your negotiating skills. It includes the commission of both the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent. It does take the stress off you, but you do not have much control and are bound by the agreement once you select an agency. After signing the contract, even if you do not like your agent, or are getting a better deal elsewhere, you cannot change your agent till the house is sold. Also, you pay for any extra services which you may not need, as in the case of properties in hot-selling areas, like an open house, or additional marketing materials. There are multiple nationwide real estate agencies that provide full-service listings, such as Century 21, Berkshire Hathaway, Keller Williams, and RE/Max.

Some agencies also provide similar services at discounted rates. Clever Real Estate reviews on Trustpilot show that people are benefitting from local agents at pre-negotiated rates.

Flat fee listing

Alternatively, you may list your home with a flat fee agency, which is the most convenient, flexible, and affordable option, and ensures the best of both worlds. It gets your house listed on the local MLS, which is the online directory through which realtors share information.  So, your home gets better visibility and sells quicker. You also save on the commission you pay to the listing broker and get assistance with marketing and paperwork against a nominal fee. You may add on services like professional photography, house valuation, marketing material, and services, etc. as and when required by paying a little extra. The essential services like managing the listing on the local MLS and other house-selling websites, providing marketing consultancy, and contract handling services are typically included in the basic package. You just need to handle the calls, show the house, and negotiate with the prospective buyers.

This type of listing works well for those who are experienced sellers, or those who want more control during negotiations. This approach scores over the FSBO approach due to better visibility and contract assistance, which may become a challenge if something went wrong legally. It scores over the full-service approach with better control, more flexibility, and less expense.

Earlier, the MLS was available to only traditional real estate agents. Hence, it was mandatory to employ a broker to sell your home. However, with the advancement of technology, access to the MLS is now available to flat-fee brokers as well, who can help you analyze and price your home according to available data. They also list your home on websites like Zillow for wider access and visibility.

Popular flat fee listing companies include Houzeo, Flat Fee Realty, FSBO, and ISoldMyHouse.com. Houzeo has a 4.9 rating on Trustpilot and is trusted for its quicker service (as it is a fully online service), exceptional support, and higher customer satisfaction rates, as is apparent from the client reviews.

The differences

In order to decide which type of listing would best suit your needs, it is essential to compare the cost and the value they provide for that money. Here’s a glance at the major differences in their services.

Full-service listingFlat fee listingFSBO
Commissions typically range between 5% and 7% of the sale priceWorks on a flat-fee basis, which generally ranges between $100 to $400Typically, free of cost
More expensiveMore pocket-friendlyFree of cost
End-to-end servicesLimited services, a la carte servicesDIY approach
Less control, as you are bound by an agreement till your house is soldMore flexibility and controlComplete control
No direct contact with buyersDirect communication with buyersDirect communication with buyers
The agent is responsible for handling queries and showing the houseThe seller is required to attend calls and show the houseThe seller is required to attend calls and show the house
Marketing and negotiating are done by agentsThe seller is responsible for both marketing and negotiating with prospective buyersThe seller is responsible for both marketing and negotiating with prospective buyers
You pay for services even if you don’t require them, like an open houseYou can pick and choose the services which you believe are essential and need to be handled by an agent. You may also add on services any time later, as and when the requirement arises.You do not have access to any services
As a traditional agent is usually shared by multiple sellers, hence dedication and time may be an issueYou may dedicate as much time as you wish to market your home, usually leading to quicker resultsYou have to do it all yourself

 Which is best for you?

Only you can tell which type of listing will best suit your requirements and pocket. Since time may be a priority for one, while service may be a priority for the other, and money may be the priority for yet another, it becomes difficult to suggest the best approach without knowing your situation and temperament. Hence, we have tried to put forward the most popular ways of listing your home along with their advantages and disadvantages. We recommend you weigh the pros and cons of each type of listing before going for the option that best fits you.

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