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What Level of Service Should I Expect from a Flat Fee MLS Listing?

Posted by hauseit on July 24, 2019
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It is important for NYC FSBO home sellers to realize that a Flat Fee MLS Listing (RLS for NYC customers) listing is an ‘owner managed’ option. This means home sellers should not expect anywhere near the same level of service they would receive under a full service, full commission listing.

With that said, an Agent Assisted FSBO (Flat Fee MLS) Seller will receive the same level of exposure to buyers as they would via a traditional full commission listing by having their home advertised in the RLS (REBNY Listing Service) broker database, StreetEasy, New York Times, Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and many other major real estate websites all at once.

The Agent Assisted FSBO listing service is a highly effective option for sellers who are self-starters, proactive and ready, willing and able to invest time in the sale process. However, selling Agent Assisted FSBO isn’t for everyone.

Listing via Agent Assisted FSBO is not a good idea If you’re unable or unwilling to do your own homework, short on time, lacking confidence and/or highly dependent on professional advice.

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What Are a Seller's Responsibilities Under a Flat Fee MLS Listing?

As a seller utilizing an Agent Assisted FSBO (Flat Fee MLS) listing service, you will be responsible for:

An Agent Assisted FSBO seller in NYC is essentially responsible for all facets of the sale process with the exception of the online advertising / syndication of the listing.

It is important for sellers to realize that a Flat Fee MLS Listing listing is an ‘owner managed’ option. This means home sellers should not expect anywhere near the same level of service they would receive under a full service, full commission listing.

The level of success you can expect as an Agent Assisted FSBO seller is highly dependent on the following factors:

  • Your willingness to invest time into learning how the sale process works

  • Correctly pricing your property and producing adequate marketing materials (description, professional photos, etc.)

  • Being persistent (but not overzealous) with interested buyers and buyer brokers

  • The overall quality of your soft-skills and negotiating prowess

  • How responsive and available you are throughout the sale process

  • Your ability to keep a level head when hiccups arise during the sale process

  • The quality of your real estate attorney

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Is Phone Support Included With a Flat Fee MLS Listing?

No. Agent Assisted FSBO Sellers must acknowledge and fully understand that there is no phone support of any kind implicitly or explicitly promised by the terms of the limited service Flat Fee MLS listing agreement they have signed.

Excerpt From a Standard Listing Agreement:

“Broker’s sole obligations under this Agreement in connection with the marketing of the Listed Property shall be limited to listing same on the MLS (or RLS and/or any other broker database at the sole discretion of the Broker) along with affiliated internet sites, and maintaining it until home is sold and closed out in the respective broker database(s) and 3rd party sites, or until listing has expired or has been cancelled.”

The owner must also understand that Hauseit is a marketing platform. Once a listing has been assigned to an affiliate listing broker, Hauseit is no longer directly involved in the sale process at all with the exception of listing updates which must be submitted on the Hauseit website. That means all deal specific questions by home sellers must be directed to their real estate attorney versus Hauseit.

Any deal specific questions in any format directed towards Hauseit by a seller after a listing has been assigned to a partner broker will not be answered by Hauseit. Agent Assisted FSBO customers should direct all questions to their real estate attorney.

With that said, there are a wealth of DIY resources including hundreds of highly detailed articles on how the sale process works on Hauseit’s blog. You are also welcome and encouraged to read the large number of previously asked and answered questions on Hauseit’s Customer Support Forum.  If there is a topic we haven’t covered, simply post the question in Hauseit’s Forum and someone from the team or the real estate community will get back to you.

Please note that per the terms of the listing agreement, the affiliate broker is not responsible for any advice or phone support of any kind.  Should you want the advice of the professional real estate broker you have been paired with, you can purchase a Professional Broker Consulting package for a low, one-time flat fee.

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How to Handle Inquiries From Buyers and Buyer Brokers

Knowing how to handle inquiries from buyers and buyer brokers is an essential part of the skill set required for success as an Agent Assisted FSBO seller. The most important thing you can do is to respond to all inquiries in a timely manner.

As an Agent Assisted FSBO seller, you’ll also need to remember that NYC real estate is a momentum-driven exercise. Buyers and buyer agents are not used to waiting days for answers to basic questions or confirmation of a showing request. They simply don’t care if you’re in the Hamptons for the weekend or if you can’t show during the day because you’re at work until 7pm Monday to Friday.

After all, the majority of other listings on the market are being handled by full-service agents whose job is to be highly responsive and make properties available to show as quickly as possible.

Just remember that as an Agent Assisted FSBO seller there are simply no excuses for being slow or unresponsive to interested buyers and buyer agents. If you’re traveling for work or away on vacation, the same rule applies: there are no excuses. Any time you spend out of the city and unavailable during the sale process will harm your progress relative to other listings on the market.

As a reminder, all inquiries on your listing including emails, text messages, voicemails and front desk messages will be relayed to you by our partner brokers’ front desk staff within a commercially reasonable amount of time. Here are some specific rules for responding to Agent Assisted FSBO listing inquiries:

  • It is safe to respond directly if you are BCC’d or CC’d on a broker inquiry. You may be BCC’d on broker inquiries to avoid unnecessarily revealing your contact information before you’ve had a chance to respond.

  • In the rare instance that our affiliate forwards you an inquiry with specific instructions, please respond directly to our affiliate. This is usually because the inquiring broker has a history of wasting our various affiliates’ time and not having a real buyer.  It is for your own protection to respond to our affiliate and not reveal your contact information to such a troll (agent without a real buyer). Here’s how to deal with trolls who may attempt to solicit and harass you.

  • It is okay to CC your affiliate on responses to inquiries for increased legitimacy.

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Real Brokers. Discreet Savings. You’ll always get the best deal through Hauseit, we guarantee it. If you find a better deal elsewhere, we’ll beat it. Plus, you’ll always be paired with a trustworthy, experienced, brand name real estate broker who never openly discounts so other agents won’t treat you or your agent any differently.

Why Is Hauseit so Strict on Setting Customer Expectations?

In order for us to truly amaze all of our customers, we must be firm in setting expectations so that we are able to provide the same, equal level of service to all of our customers. In a city like NYC full of aggressive, “Type A” personality working professionals, you are bound to meet some extremely demanding customers who are never satisfied and always want more value than they’ve paid for (Learn more: Why Agents Won’t Do A Flat-Fee MLS Listing in NYC).

Therefore, in order for us and our affiliates to continue serving the wider NYC home buyer and seller community we must be firm in setting expectations with the occasional customer of this type. Sometimes people just need a reality check!  In one of the most expensive cities in the world, our NYC broker affiliates must be extremely efficient if they are receiving effectively nothing versus $120,000 in commission for the average NYC sale.  That means a reality check in terms of expectations for 24/7 help, service and phone support.

Please remember that we cannot coerce our partner brokers to work with you for reduced commission if they have reason to believe that you have an unreasonable level of expectations regarding the level of service that you should receive as a flat fee MLS listing customer. You may be asked to sign an additional document such as the below stating that you understand the product and the level of service that will be provided. If none of our partner brokers are available to work with you, your order will be cancelled and refunded in full.

Acknowledgement of Terms of Service

You understand and acknowledge that:

  • This is a flat fee listing that does not come with email or phone support from neither Hauseit nor our partner brokers.

  • This is reasonable since you are paying a small flat fee of essentially 0% vs 6% in commission.

  • All updates, edits or changes to your listing must be submitted using the listing update form on hauseit.com. The form can be found under the “Sellers” menu bar.

  • You will submit a new listing update for each new request and will not simply reply back to Hauseit’s customer support team to ask for additional edits.

  • Our support team will make reasonable efforts to complete listing updates within one business day of receipt, meaning last minute requests made after business hours or over the weekend will not be processed until we are back in the office.

  • Our partner brokers are principals or other very senior managers at their firms who do not personally handle listings, much less flat fee listings.

  • Our partner brokers do not personally handle listing updates or inquiries.

  • Our partner brokers employ executive assistants to manage their email inboxes and handle inquiries.

  • Our partner brokers employ front desk personnel to answer phone calls and to take messages during normal business hours.

  • You will not email or call our partner brokers nor will our partner brokers respond to any emails or phone calls from you.

  • You will not send test inquiries to our partner brokers.

  • Our partner brokers’ staff will make reasonable efforts to relay messages and inquiries within a commercially reasonable amount of time during regular business hours, as defined by our partner brokers.

  • A typical home will spend over three months on the market before going into contract; therefore, it is unreasonable to expect inquiries and offers right after listing.

  • Pricing your home too high, not ordering professional photography or not having a floorplan will hurt your chances of selling and significantly reduce the volume of inquiries you will receive.

I have read, understand and agree to the above as well as the terms and conditions listed on Hauseit’s website. I have read Hauseit’s Agent Assisted FSBO product page and FAQ and understand how the service works as well as the limited scope of the service.

Name:

Signature:

Date:

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Will Hauseit Agree to Work With All Agent Assisted FSBO Sellers?

Absolutely not. Our affiliates have no obligation to take on any or all of the customer referrals we direct their way. This means that customers who abuse the essentially free service we are providing will likely be rejected or fired by our affiliate listing brokers.

Moreover, in the event of abuse, disrespect or harassment of our affiliate listing broker by the customer, our affiliates reserve the right to cancel the listing agreement and refund a pro-rated share of the flat fee back to the customer.

Our affiliate listing brokers are all full-service, traditional REBNY Member Firms who also have full-commission, full-service clients to look after.  The benefit of this method is that your affiliate listing broker will have none of the possible reputational damage that a typical “discount broker” will suffer.

In return, our customers are expected to be respectful and behave professionally towards our affiliate listing brokers. These traditional brokers have taken personal risk to break ranks with the rest of the brokerage industry to help you save money on your real estate transaction.  They are risking their own reputations to discreetly help you sell your home for less than 6% in commission.

The upside for them is an enhanced reputation from having more listings and the potential for buyer and seller referrals to come from the additional business.  Because you are getting the ‘deal of a lifetime’ by selling through a traditional broker for 0% instead of 6%, it’s important for you to be appreciative and respectful of the tremendous opportunity you have been given.

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Have time to show your home yourself? Consider our self managed, For Sale By Owner listing option that gives your home the same marketing exposure as if you’d paid 6% commission to a traditional listing broker.

Is Using a Flat Fee MLS Listing a Good Idea for Me?

Using a Flat Fee MLS Listing is a good idea if you’re ready, willing and able to do the following:

  • Learn the intricacies of the sale process in NYC, including how to handle listing inquiries, how to negotiate, how to to prepare a board application and how to prepare a deal sheet.

  • Effectively show your property and answer questions from interested parties without being overbearing, too aggressive or simply off-putting to buyers and brokers.

  • Keep a level head while negotiating and juggling multiple inquiries of interest from buyers and buyer agents.

  • Work through the bureaucracy of your managing agent to secure board approval for your buyer.

Using a Flat Fee MLS Listing is a bad idea if any of the following statements describe you:

  • You aren’t available on most weekends for open houses, and you’re rarely available during the day to accommodate private showing requests.

  • You’re not interested in calling back buyers and buyer brokers and following-up with leads on a consistent basis.

  • You’re easily prone to lose your patience while scheduling appointments or become compromised emotionally during negotiations.

  • You don’t have time to read our materials or learn how the sale process works and you wish to speak with customer service to have everything explained to you.

  • You simply don’t like interacting with buyer agents or any real estate agents.

  • You aren’t interested in offering a buyer agent commission.

  • You’re simply not comfortable in a sales role.

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Originally Published: 6/27/16 | Updated: July 24th, 2019

Disclosure: Hauseit and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, financial and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. The services marketed on Hauseit.com are provided by licensed real estate brokers and other third party professional service providers. Hauseit LLC is not a licensed real estate broker nor a member of any multiple listing service (MLS).

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  • Fully market your home on your local MLS and dozens of popular websites with Hauseit’s Agent Assisted FSBO Listing Service. We offer the REBNY RLS which covers NYC, the HGMLS which covers the Hudson Valley, and the MLSLI which covers Long Island. An Agent Assisted FSBO is so much more than a flat fee MLS listing. That’s because your home is listed by one of our reputable, traditional partner brokers who never openly discount their services. As a result, not only will you receive the same marketing exposure as a full commission customer, your listing won’t be treated any differently by other brokers!

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