Since 1998, I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly in flat fee home sales. There is much more good than bad and ugly, and it is easy to see that the bad and ugly are more common with certain players in the flat fee MLS industry. It is frustrating to see some of the most questionable flat fee websites continue to operate, knowing the problems they have, and knowing the low chance of success sellers who uses these companies actually have. I hope the web 2.0, also known as social media, will help consumers avoid the problem brokers. I see the very beginning of flat fee broker reputations becoming visible for more people to see, rather than the “dark ages” where only a few knowledgeable industry insiders know the real scoop.
Here is some of the flat fee MLS experiences I have seen and heard:
Some flat fee MLS companies educate and coach their sellers to make their listing attractive and easy for agents to sell, others input the listing and are done, leaving the seller to learn how to sell the hard way.
Some consistently answer their phone, others send everyone to a voicemail menu.
Some are professional and polite, some are in a hurry and don't have time to help or explain.
Some are involved in the Realtor Association and have excellent relationships with the Realtor community, whereas others aren't involved and/or treat Realtors like the enemy.
Some are middleman marketers who transfer the listing order to a different company, whomever is the lowest bidder, who receives $50 or less to input the listing.
Some Flat Fee MLS Services know how to motivate and entice buyer agents to show and sell their listings, others' listings show information that confuses, alienates, or repels buyer agents.
Some flat fee listing services can be counted on to return calls, others require all interaction after the property is listed to be by email or by website login.
Some brokers won't list a property unless it will be in the MLS used by agents in the area, others will list a seller in an MLS not used by nearby agents (because it is expensive to be members of more than one Multiple Listing Service MLS).
Fortunately, social media is beginning to get the word out about what flat fee brokers are excellent and who is not. Many people think Facebook and LinkedIn when they hear social media, but for Flat Fee Brokers Google Places and Yahoo Local are the places to look. To check out a broker, enter the company name at maps.google.com. There are other websites, too, but the key is that complaints must stick—the company can't have the ability to remove complaints. That ability to remove complaints is the critical weakness of Facebook and LinkedIn—if someone posts a flat fee mls complaint, the company can delete it with a click or two. Google Places and Yahoo Local, on the other hand, do not offer businesses the capability to remove complaints. MeasuredUp.com and My3Cents.com also have numerous flat fee MLS reviews and comments.