Flat Fee Brokerage vs Full Service Brokerage

Thesa Chambers January 8, 2014

The Battle of The Flat Fee Brokerage and Full Service Brokerage

Knowledge is Power

Before the “big real estate crash” we had all kinds of discount and flat fee brokerages in town. As the market fell so did many of these offices.  Sales in Bend and all of Central Oregon were slow, sellers needed a more strategic plan to get their homes sold. Just putting it on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) was not enough to find a buyer.

You are the seller and you have a choice to conduct business as you see fit for your needs.  Some of you may find a flat fee to appealing, but let’s talk a little about what the difference is between the flat fee and the full service brokerage.

Is The MLS Really All You Need

What more do you need other than put your home on the MLS?  After all, The MLS of Central Oregon participates in a syndication service called List Hub, so every listing goes out to hundreds of real estate sites, including Zillow and Trulia.  The moment an agent submits your listing to the MLS it goes live to every agent website that has a search feature (we call it IDX).  It goes out to all the real estate companies such as RE/MAX, John L Scott, and all those big box companies.  So the buyer and the agents see it is for sale… what more do you need?

Showing Your Property

I personally think one of the most important services you need is a professional setting up showings.  A buyer will have an agent, and if you are using a flat fee company chances are you will not.  So, you will act as your agent, you will prep your home for the showing (you will do this with or without representation). Once the buyer gets there you will most likely hang out to answer any questions, get a feel for the buyer after all you are in control of your own destiny right?  In reality you are opening yourself up to the buyer, you are giving them information on how motivated you are, when you want to move where you are moving to and so on.  It is amazing what a little small talk can actually tell a person, and sometimes just body language can give you away.

Removing The Emotions

The sale of your home, especially the home you live in can be emotional. You hire a real estate professional to sell your home and that sounds simple enough, right?  But are flat fee brokers the right professional for you?  My guess is NO!

There are a ton of lists out there about why you should use a Realtor®.  They all make valid points, marketing, negotiation and so on.  Bottom line you should use a Realtor because we are trained professionals that will actually represent you, your best interest and protect you.  We put our license on the line every time we take a listing, or represent a buyer. A flat fee brokerage unfortunately does not care about you or your sale.  They have received a flat fee to simply put your home on the MLS. Most often with your photos and your efforts.  The flat fee agent has many times has not even been to your property.  They sit behind a desk and let you do the work, because that is what you are paying for.  

Negotiations, Photos and Responsibilities

A full service agent works in the real estate trenches every day.  They network with other agents and talk real estate, they have buyers that are contacting them and they are up to date with the market.  When you price your home a full service agent will give you the facts before you and the agent set the price. They will make sure the photos show your home from the very best vantage point.  Highlight what buyers are looking for, and help you decide how your home will show best.

Statistics show that representation by a Realtor® will net you a better bottom line. You will have less stress from the transaction and someone on your side.  A full service agent will do their best to keep you updated and be able to prepare you for each step along the way of the listing and the sale. With a flat fee – you will pay to put your home on the MLS and be on your own.  So when the buyer comes it’s up to you to negotiate and know what the laws are about specific sections of an offer.

Now That You Have An Offer

IF an offer comes it too is often on you to know is the price truly fair, what will an appraiser think of the value, is the buyer truly qualified are the buyer’s demands reasonable? Some of these flat fee companies only want to see the offer once it is accepted. How difficult is it for you to know what you are agreeing to?  Sure you can look at the offer price, the amount they are putting down and maybe they are prequalified, has the lender truly looked at the buyer’s financial history or just given you a prequal letter based on a conversation? At the end of the day, do you know what the state mandates a seller do in a transaction?  Do you truly know what you are agreeing to? Do you know if your buyer can truly complete the transaction?

Using a full service Realtor will explain the listing line by line step by step, and when the offer comes will know the questions to ask of the buyer or buyer’s agent and explain what all the “hidden” tasks are.

 Now that that real estate market is improving we are seeing the flat fee brokerage creep back into the market place again. Many Realtors® are up in arms with what these offices “do for their clients” or more accurately the lack of what they do.

I Want to Be YOUR Agent!

If you are thinking of selling your home or know someone that is, I would be honored to have the opportunity to interview for the job.  Selling real estate in Central Oregon is something I take very seriously and I promise you will not be sorry you opted for a full service Realtor.




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