What Is A Flat-Fee MLS Service? | Pros And Cons | Flat-Fee Agents Vs. Listing Services | Find The Best Flat-Fee MLS Services | Best Flat-Fee MLS by State | Check Out Top Flat-Fee Alternatives | How To Improve Your Listing | Our Flat-Fee FAQs Guide
Want to sell your home without an agent? A basic MLS flat-fee listing service will run you $299-$399, on average. Compare that to the standard 2.5-3% commission listing agents charge to sell your home and it means you could save thousands on your next sale!
These savings can come at a cost, though.
You’ll be in charge of your full sale in many cases — from initial pricing to final contract negotiations. We cover what you need to know about flat-fee MLS pros and cons, as well as the top flat-fee MLS listing companies.
If you’re thinking of using a flat-fee MLS service, another great alternative is a flat-fee or low commission agent. They’ll handle more of the sales process for you, but you’ll still save big on commission fees.
For example, our friends at Clever Real Estate connect you with top agents in your area. They’ll sell your home for a low flat fee of $3,000 (or 1% commission for homes over $350,000). Learn how Clever can help you save thousands on your sale!
- Only licensed real estate agents can list properties on your local multiple listing service (MLS), which is the main place buyers look for houses
- If you want to sell your home without a realtor, you can work with a flat-fee company to list your home on the MLS
- Services, quality, and support varies among flat-fee MLS companies — and so do price points
- Some sellers may find better support, and still save money, with another discount real estate approach
What Is a Flat-Fee MLS Service?
Instead of charging a percentage-based commission to list and sell your home, a flat-fee MLS service provides a la carte support for specific listing tasks.
Most often, a flat-fee MLS service will help you list your home on your local MLS, typically for a few hundred dollars.
But when you use a flat fee MLS company, the listing is all you get.
You won’t receive the other services usually offered by real estate agents. By using a flat-fee MLS service, you’re essentially going for sale by owner (FSBO), and that can come with a ton of challenges.
Can I list on the MLS without an agent?
No. Getting onto your local MLS is the best way to get your property the visibility it needs — but only a licensed real estate agent can list a property on the MLS.
🧐 What is an MLS?
An MLS, or multiple listing service, is a directory of available properties in a certain area. Each region or market has its own local MLS and websites like Redfin and Zillow populate their listings from these directories.
Buyer’s agents search the MLS to find properties for their buyers. And since major real estate websites now pull from the MLS, buyers are increasingly searching for homes on their own, too.
What does an average flat-fee MLS service offer?
In general, flat-fee MLS listing companies will post your property listing onto the MLS for a one-time flat fee. That’s all you get, unless you opt for an upgrade.
More expensive packages or pricing tiers may include services like:
- Marketing on social media sites
- Staging help
- Professional photography
- Pricing advice for your area
- Negotiation support with buyers
- Help with closing paperwork
This type of support can veer into the territory of a limited-service real estate agent, where you pay a flat fee for more a la carte services.
If you know from the start that you’ll need more services, a low-cost real estate agent may be a better fit. They’re a great compromise between a flat-fee MLS service and a conventional, full-price agent.
If you want to save big, we can’t recommend Clever Real Estate enough. Clever agents charge just $3,000 or a 1% commission for full-service support. You’ll work with top agents in your area for a fraction of the price.
Do Flat-Fee MLS Listing Companies Work? Pros and Cons
Not sure if a flat-fee MLS listing service, and the related FSBO tasks, are right for you? Let’s look at some of the major pros and cons.
|It's cheaper — you can potentially save thousands (or tens of thousands!) on your sale||Many FSBO listings sell for less... or don’t sell at all|
|If you have the right expertise, you can make a FSBO approach work||You'll still offer a competitive buyer's agent commission|
|In hot markets, desirable properties can sometimes sell themselves||You could face legal risks if you overlook key disclosures|
|You'll have more control over every step of your sale||Selling your home without a realtor is a TON of work|
Pro: It’s MUCH cheaper
The average cost of a flat fee MLS service is around $299. Put simply, you’ll save hundreds or thousands of dollars compared to the typical 3% listing commission full-service agents charge.
Pro: FSBO is doable — if you have the right skills
An agent does a lot for a seller, managing everything from staging, to marketing, to negotiating. But if you have professional expertise that can replace some of those services — let’s say you’re an attorney or an interior designer — a flat-fee MLS service might make a lot of sense for you.
Interested in going FSBO? Check out:
Pro: In hot markets, desirable properties can sell themselves
We’ve all heard about homes that are the subject of bidding wars before the end of their first weekend on the market.
In hot metro markets, this is a real possibility if you have a great property. In that case, you can probably sell fast without an agent.
Do you have a unique home or are you selling in a slow buyer’s market? You could risk your house sitting on the market for months, especially if your home is priced incorrectly.
Pro: You’ll have more control
Selling as an FSBO listing means you make all the calls including:
- When you hold showings
- How much you list your property for
- Who you sell to
If you’ve got an independent streak, a flat-fee MLS service can let you take hold of the steering wheel.
Con: Many FSBO listings sell for less — or don’t sell at all
Unfortunately, statistics show that the average FSBO listing sells for almost $80,000 less than agented listings. That’s a lot of money to lose out on!
There’s a few potential reasons for this:
- The buyer’s agent is a professional negotiator — and you’re probably not. Their agent will use every trick in the book to negotiate the lowest possible price for their client.
- Without the support and expertise of a realtor, it’s very possible to price your home too high (thus driving away buyers) or too low (leaving money on the table).
Worse yet, many FSBO listings don’t sell at all. If this happens, you’ll have to start the whole process over with an agent!
Con: You’ll still offer buyer’s agent commission
Sellers often go with flat-fee MLS services because they want to save on commission, but you won’t avoid realtor commission completely.
While you’ll reduce your 3% listing commission down to a flat fee, you’ll still have to offer a competitive buyer’s agent commission — typically 2.5-3% of your final sales price.
Con: You could face large legal risks
Selling a house isn’t like selling a sofa on Craigslist. Property sales are governed by local, state, and federal laws, and there are mandatory disclosures you have to make about issues like lead paint, pollution, and potential home flaws.
Overlook these disclosures and you could find yourself facing litigation years after your sale closes.
Con: It’s a ton of work
Most of us have a vague sense of how much work an agent does, but in reality, they probably do even more.
An agent helps you get your property ready for the market, but they also get the word out, whip up interest, conduct showings, and get you the maximum possible price at the negotiating table.
If you go with a flat-fee MLS service, all of that work is now on you.
Flat-Fee MLS vs. Flat-Fee Realtors and Brokers
Due to these challenges, a flat-fee MLS approach may not be the best fit for your situation. Thankfully, there is another option.
A flat-fee realtor or broker also charges a flat fee for their services. This cost is usually higher than a flat-fee MLS listing service, but much lower than a traditional full-cost realtor.
With this approach, you’ll get the benefit of an agent’s expertise and support at a lower cost. In addition to getting your home on the MLS, your agent will usually help with:
- Pricing strategy
- Conducting open houses
- Negotiating the final sale price
- Closing support
Of course, not all flat-fee realtors are created equal. For some companies, as we’ll discuss, a discounted rate means discounted services.
That’s why we recommend working with a company like Clever Real Estate. You get a full-service selling experience at a fraction of the typical price — $3,000 (or 1% for home over $350,000)!
What Is the Best Flat-Fee MLS Listing Service?
The best flat-fee MLS listing service will depend on your needs. Some offer upgraded services almost on par with a full-service agent; others will simply list your home on their website and nothing else.
Read on to learn about the pros and cons of the best flat fee MLS listing services with nationwide coverage, and how they work.
|Houzeo||$79-999||A great online dashboard and many a la carte upgrade options||You'll have to pay for a lot of services that are free at other companies|
|Flat Fee Group||$499||You'll work with an agent at a local broker||Since it’s only a referral service, Flat Fee Group has very little control of your agent experience|
|ForSaleByOwner.com||Free-$399||With no buyer's agent commission and free listing options, you can save a lot of money (IF you can stand the risks)||Your listing isn’t populated onto the MLS and websites like Zillow or Trulia — your only audience is the company's user base|
|Fizber||$295-395||The optional transaction coordinator can make a sale feel much easier||You'll have to pay for services — like photos or listing changes — that are free at other companies|
|ISoldMyHouse.com||$299-399||Offers a good range of services compared to many other flat-fee MLS companies||You'll likely face less service risks, and not pay much more, by working with a full-service discount broker|
|FSBO.com||$400||The option of receiving help from an agent fills a very real need for some sellers||You'll be referred to a local broker if you want to list on the MLS, which may lead to varying qualities of service|
Houzeo is a flat-fee MLS service that offers a few packages at different price points, three to six month listing terms, syndication onto all the major real estate sites, and an online dashboard that lets you manage your listings and even sign contracts from your phone or desktop.
But expect to pay extra if you’ll likely make a lot of changes to your price, listing description, or status.
If you’re new to selling (which you most likely are!) this could be a major downside. Most competitors in this space allow you to make an unlimited amount of changes, but Houzeo caps this at a maximum amount.
|✅ Best for: Sellers looking for tech-friendly options and a lot of flexibility|
2. Flat Fee Group
The Flat Fee Group is a FFMLS referral service that connects you to licensed brokers in your area. Once you’re paired up with a broker, you can select a flat fee package that works for you.
The lowest-priced package is very bare-bones, while the highest-priced one is essentially a full-service agent experience. And, if you realize FSBO isn’t right for you, they make it easy to switch to a full-service agent.
Note that not all lower-priced packages are available in all states.
|✅ Best for: Sellers who need more support or may ultimately choose a full-service approach|
This FSBO website has a user base of around 200,000 people who are interested in buying or selling a home. It offers free basic listings as well as upgraded options.
The downside is that they don’t populate your listing onto the MLS (so it doesn’t make it to sites like Zillow, Realtor.com, and Trulia).
They also don’t offer buyer’s agent commission, which means you’ll be cutting out a big chunk of potential buyers. Without a buyer’s agent commission, agents may simply steer their clients away from your home since they don’t stand to earn anything on the sale.
|✅ Best for: Sellers who want to save the most possible money on commission|
Fizber is a high-tech FSBO company that offers features like 3D tours. These advanced features can be a great enticement — especially during the pandemic.
Fizber customers can also choose to have a transaction coordinator steer their sale over the finish line, which can make the sale feel much easier.
Like other options, though, Fizber’s free listing options have few features. Upgraded services come at higher costs.
|✅ Best for: Sellers willing to pay for a bit more support during the process|
This company offers a wide spectrum of real estate services, from a flat fee MLS listing service to a discount agent referral service to connections to cash buyers for a quick sale.
You may not be able to access all of these services, though. Availability varies across (and within) states. And you can often find many of these services at a similar rate with fewer service risks from other discount real estate companies.
|✅ Best for: Sellers who want a one-stop shop for all of their potential needs|
This is a popular FSBO website that attracts buyers who are looking for FSBO homes. FSBO.com also offers service packages — many of which are a great value.
With an additional fee, you can also be connected with a real estate agent who may provide “minimum services” like pricing assistance.
|✅ Best for: Sellers who want to list on a large nationally-recognized FSBO website|
What Is the Best Flat-Fee MLS Listing Service in Each State?
While you should be able to take advantage of nationwide providers everywhere, we’ve put together a list of the top local options as well.
These providers may be more familiar with your area and could offer more personalized support.
Find the Best Flat-Fee Real Estate Agents and Companies
If flat-fee MLS listing services don’t offer enough support for your sale, flat-fee real estate companies are a fantastic alternative.
For a discounted commission or flat-fee rate, these agents offer some (or all) of what you’d expect from a full-price, full-service agent.
Every discount real estate company has a unique business model, though, so it’s important to do your research before you settle on one.
|Company||Average Rating||Locations||Listing Fee||Average Savings*|
|Clever||4.9 (590 reviews)||Nationwide||$3,000 (or 1% over $350K)||$7,375|
|Assist-2-Sell||Varies by location||Nationwide||Varies by location||Varies by location|
|Help-U-Sell||Varies by location||Nationwide||Varies by location||Varies by location|
|Redefy||4.6 (345 reviews)||CO, FL, GA, IL, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA||$3,500 (or 1% over $1M)||$8,500|
|Houwzer||4.9 (1,237 reviews)||FL, MD, NJ, PA, VA, DC||$5,000||$7,000|
|Homie||4.2 (1,069 reviews)||AZ, CO, CT, ID, NV, UT||$2,000-3,000||$9,500|
|Trelora||4.7 (943 reviews)||AZ, CO, NC, SC, WA||$3,000-4,000||$8,500|
Clever Real Estate is an agent referral service that connects sellers to top agents in their area. You’ll receive a full-service sale experience for a flat fee of $3,000 (or 1% if your home sells for more than $350,000).
Assist-2-Sell is a franchise-based real estate company — some locations offer flat-fee pricing while others advertise a discounted percentage rate on commission.
It’s a sort of “one stop shop,” offering FSBO-centric services, unagented buyer-centric services, and a straightforward full-service sale experience. Unfortunately, many sellers have noted serious quality inconsistencies between locations.
|🔍 Explore More: Read our comprehensive review of Assist-2-Sell now|
Help-U-Sell is also a franchise-based company with locations across the U.S.
You’ll get a full-service experience from a local agent, but pricing isn’t clear from the company’s website. Some locations charge a flat fee, while others offer a discounted percentage-based commission. Like Assist-2-Sell, quality varies considerably between franchises.
Redefy is a discount real estate broker that operates in a few states. They advertise a $3,500 flat listing commission for sellers (or 1% for homes over $1 million).
Redefy’s agents handle 4X more sales than a conventional agent, though, which can leave them overextended and mistake-prone. AND expect to pay an upfront $500 fee that’s non-refundable, regardless if you sell your home or not.
|🔍 Explore More: Learn what you need to know about selling with Redefy|
Based primarily on the East Coast, Houwzer is a discount real estate brokerage that advertises a flat listing fee of $5,000 (regardless of sale price). For sellers with high-value properties, this offers huge savings.
However, Houwzer agents handle roughly 3X more customers than traditional agents, so you may face some service quality risks.
|🔍 Explore More: Find everything you need to know about selling with Houwzer|
Live on the West Coast? Homie is a flat-fee real estate company that offers a flat listing fee of $3,000 or less. This can help you save big, especially at higher price points.
Unfortunately, Homie agents are entirely digital and handle 10X more clients than conventional realtors. Homie reviews report that this approach can lead to considerable service issues.
|🔍 Explore More: Learn more about selling with Homie|
With Trelora, you’ll pay a flat $3,000 or $4,000 listing fee, depending on your location.
Trelora uses a team-based approach. Instead of working with a single agent, a different team member will support each stage of your sale. This may work great in some cases — or it could lead to missed deadlines, oversights, or miscommunication.
|🔍 Explore More: Is selling with Trelora worth it? Find out now!|
How to Improve Your Flat Fee MLS Listing
It’s not enough to just get your home onto the MLS — you also have to make it look amazing to potential buyers. Here’s how to optimize your flat-fee MLS listing.
1. Describe your listing properly
Avoid using phrases like “motivated seller” or “fixer upper” as they invite lowball offers. Specifics are powerful, as are brand names. Don’t just say your kitchen is updated; talk about the stainless steel Viking appliances and Silestone waterfall countertops.
When you can’t tap into the prestige of a brand name, try to frame things in terms of benefits instead of features. Benefits are far more attractive than features. For example, a swimming pool is a feature, but having a private backyard oasis for long summer afternoons is a benefit.
2. Get professional quality photos
Buyers are visual. When you look at a home listing, you almost certainly go to the photos first. That means getting good photos should be your highest priority.
There are a lot of factors that go into taking a great listing photo, like proper staging, lighting, and composition.
Unless you have experience taking high-quality photos, you should hire a professional photographer, preferably one that has real estate experience. Many flat-fee MLS services also offer photography as part of their standard package or upgrades.
3. Nail your list price
Set your listing price too high and you’ll drive buyers away; set it too low and you’ll leave money on the table.
Look at similar properties online to get an idea of how much to list your home for or, if you’re working for an agent, ask for a CMA (comparative market analysis).
4. Invest in home-selling tools
Although your MLS listing will increase your home’s visibility to buyers, you should still do everything you can to spread the word!
Invest in some high-quality yard signs and fliers, as well as a lockbox to make showings easier.
5. Respect your obligations to the MLS listing service
Once you choose a flat-fee MLS service, you’ll often be asked to sign an exclusive listing agreement that comes with certain requirements. Pay close attention to these.
For example, generally if you accept an offer, you must inform the listing company right away — within one day. This same rule applies when you officially close.
Answers to Flat-Fee MLS FAQs
Do flat fee MLS listings work?
Yes, but they’re not ideal for most sellers. While a flat-fee MLS listing can lead to a sale, a NAR study found that only 8% of all homes sold FSBO (without an agent) in 2018. Want the savings of FSBO without the risk? Find out what real estate companies charge the lowest commission fees.
How much do flat fee MLS listings cost?
Flat-fee MLS services cost between $99-499. The average is close to $299. This does not include fees for add-on services like professional photos.
Is the flat-fee MLS legal?
Yes, listing your home on the MLS without an agent for a flat fee is totally legal. However, if you sell without an agent, make sure you make all mandatory disclosures and properly complete paperwork, or you could leave yourself open to future legal problems.
Do buyer’s agents avoid flat-fee listings?
Although your property may be a bit more work for a buyer's agent than a conventional listing, most agents will not outright avoid showing your property to a prospective buyer just because it's a flat-fee listing. BUT they may avoid it if you don't offer a competitive buyer's agent commission (usually 2.5-3%).
Are flat fee real estate agents good?
Just as with traditional agents, flat-fee agent quality varies. Some are great; others may be inexperienced or unprofessional. Always check company reviews before settling on any flat-fee service.
Can you get on the MLS without a realtor?
No. Only licensed realtors can list a home on the MLS. If you don’t want to work with a full-service agent, you’ll need to use a flat fee MLS service to get your home on the MLS.
What is the best MLS listing service?
That depends on what services you need, and the type of property you’re selling; our list in this article goes into some of the most popular options, and their pros and cons. If you're looking for a flat-fee real estate company, Clever Real Estate is a great option.
Is for sale by owner worth it?
Selling without an agent is possible, but the latest statistics show that FSBO listings sell for $80,000 less than agented listings (on average). Many FSBO listings also fail to sell at all. It may not be worth it for you.
How can I avoid paying realtor fees?
Using a flat-fee MLS service can help you avoid paying a typical listing commission, but you’ll still have to offer a competitive buyer’s agent commission if you want your home to reach its largest potential audience. To avoid all realtor fees, you’d have to sell as an FSBO (for sale by owner) listing and find an unagented buyer.
Does it cost money to list on MLS?
Only a licensed realtor can list a property on the MLS. So yes — in order to get your property on the MLS, you’ll either have to sign with an agent or pay a flat-fee MLS service to do so.
How do I sell by owner on MLS?
FSBO sellers who want to list their property on the MLS will have to go through a licensed realtor — either by signing with a conventional agent or paying a flat-fee MLS service.
Will agents contact me with a flat-fee MLS listing?
Yes. Your contact information will be included in the “Showing Instructions” section of your MLS listing. Buyer's agents will contact you directly if they want to show your home. They may also want you to sign a commission agreement before showing your home to their buyer.