Should You use a FSBO MLS Listing Service?

Tim Lucas
Military VA Loan editor
Discount real estate brokers

George Doyle/

by Ed Kunkel, Jr., military veteran and Realtor®

You may be thinking of selling your home For Sale By Owner, or FSBO, and using a do-it-yourself agency that allows you to list your own home on the MLS. You’ve seen the ads: sell your home for just $500!

Yes, limited service agreements get your home on the Multiple Listing Service in your area, but is that all it takes to sell a home?

Think about the True Value

The bottom line: you get what you pay for!  The reason why people look towards FSBO listing services and limited service arrangements is because they want to net more money.  More often than not, home sellers lose money with discount MLS listing services. Here’s why:

There are Different Types of Buyers

In ANY Real Estate market, there are three types of buyers – 1. Ready and willing buyers, 2. Investors looking for a cheap deal, and 3. Looky loos who will likely never buy.

The “Ready and Willing” Home Buyer

“Ready and willing” buyers typically have a timeline to get settled, and hire a buyer’s agent to help them do it.   A smart buyer’s agent will avoid getting involved with showing listings from self service agencies.

There are a few reasons for this.

  • There’s usually a lower commission offered to the buyer’s agent – or none at all.
  • There’s more work to get the transaction completed, because FSBO self service listings by definition don’t offer professional seller representation.
  • There are plenty of other homes listed with full service agents who are available to show the home at any time.

The Investor Home Buyer

What do investors want?  A great deal, and cheap!

They are patient, in no hurry to close on a home, and are not interested in paying full price.

When you opt to sell a home yourself, you attract discount buyers. This negates the savings from lower commissions.

“Looky Loo” Home Buyers

Without a real estate agent, will you have the time and know-how to weed out “looky loos” – buyers who have no intention of buying your home?

A full service real estate agent examines a potential buyer’s loan pre-approval status and how quickly they want to buy. Why open up your home to people who are just curious to see what the neighbor’s home looks like?

Your Real Estate Agent’s Affiliation is Important

Here are some benefits you lose by selling your home yourself with an MLS listing service:

  • An agent who is affiliated with a company that has a great reputation.
  • An agent who has exposure to your local market.
  • Someone whose office you are familiar with, and whose signage you’ve seen in area homes for sale.
  • Someone who is involved and has a good reputation in the community

Exposure from a prominent real estate office will certainly help you if you’re a seller. Your buyers know from the name on the sign out front that you’re serious about selling your home.

In short, sometimes using an MLS listing service can end up costing you money instead of saving it. Yes, you might pay more in commissions, but with a full-priced agent, there’s a good chance your home will sell faster, and for more money.

Ed Kunkel, Jr. is a Managing Broker/Realtor® at Keller Williams Realty in Olympia, Washington. Visit Ed here. Ed’s Military History: Veteran – U.S. Army and Air Force Reserve; Highest rank, E5; 11 years combined military service.