Working with Your Flat Fee MLS Listing
We strive to list your property in the official Massachusetts multiple listing service (MLS), called MLS Property Information Network (MLS PIN), by the next business day, oftentimes faster, after you signup and make your one-time flat fee payment. Syndication of your listing to third party websites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com will take place in the coming hours after your listing is published in the MLS.
According to studies, the most difficult task for a FSBO is pricing your house for sale. It’s not surprising that Realtors spend a lot of time analyzing how much properties have sold for recently to establish an accurate asking price for their listings. Unlike Realtors, FSBOs have a difficult time accessing a comprehensive view of the market at a level of detail that can unlock the best listing price. That’s why we suggest FSBOs purchase our How to Price FSBO Guide, a customized report for your neighborhood that will arm you as a FSBO with the same tools and information that Realtors use every day.
Yes, absolutely. Once your property is listed in the MLS, which is the ultimate system of record that we have control over, it will be syndicated to popular real estate websites such as Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, Redfin, and hundreds of others to increase the exposure of your property. You will not have to do any work, signup for a separate account, pay any additional fees, or otherwise take action to get your listing syndicated to third party websites.
While syndication to third party websites is oftentimes largely complete 24 hours following your listing being published on the MLS, syndication from the MLS to third party websites takes place on different schedules, not in real time, and Entry Only New England does not have direct control over these schedules.
If you list your property for sale or rent in the MLS, the answer is no.
MLS Property Information Network, Inc. Rules and Regulations, specifically Article IV – Prohibitions, state that only the “For Sale” signs of the Listing Broker may be placed on a Listed Property.
Ok, so what do I do now? I’d like a for sale sign on my property.
If you want the exposure a real estate yard sign provides, and you need a for sale (or for lease) sign, no problem, you can purchase one from us as your Listing Broker.
The real estate sign we sell you will have your name and your contact information on it, but it will have our necessary brokerage information to satisfy the rules and regulations of the MLS – take the next step with FSBO yard signs.
When listing FSBO on the MLS, the placement of your contact information so that interested parties can quickly contact you directly is paramount.
The gravity and importance of sound communication practices around FSBO contact information is not lost on us.
As you can imagine, there are a number of subtle intricacies involved in facilitating communication with FSBOs using flat fee MLS entry only listings. We’ve coupled an intimate familiarity with how real estate transactions are conducted along with advancements in technology that we are the first to use, and then layered on top of that a tremendous amount of listening to clients, their feedback, their suggestions, and have built a platform that has both integrity and transparently facilitates prompt communication to you as a FSBO.
This was done all while taking into consideration (1) the rules and regulations of the MLS specific to the use of your contact information (2) precisely what contact information is syndicated to popular third-party real estate websites and (3) the for-profit business models of those third-party websites (which lie outside our control of course), so that we do right by you as a FSBO wherever and whenever we’re given the chance.
Within the MLS itself (which is directly accessible only by licensed real estate agents and brokers), the special showing instructions field of your listing will contain your contact information and will instruct all licensed real estate agents and brokers to contact you directly.
Yes, your MLS listing has your contact information in it.
The special showing instructions field, which is limited in the number of characters it can support will read: For more information, showings, and offers, please contact owner Your First Name at Your Phone Number.
The MLS expressly does not allow contact information of any kind in any other field in a listing, be that a listing’s Public Remarks or Disclosures.
MLS Property Information Network (MLS PIN), the largest MLS system in New England and the system we exclusively leverage, does not syndicate the special showing instructions field to third party websites (such as Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow, etc.), and therefore, only the listing brokerage’s contact information is syndicated along with your listing information to third-party websites – how and where the listing brokerage’s contact information is shared on third party websites is up to that third party website, which is most often a for-profit business either selling advertising to agents who want buyer leads, or, a brokerage website that wants to promote their own agents and not the listing brokerage that provided the listing.
If we receive an inquiry directly via phone or email regarding your listing from any party (be that a buyer or renter, or, a licensed real estate salesperson or broker), we facilitate prompt and direct interaction between you and the interested party by explicitly directing them to stuartstjames.com/listings, a URL that resolves to a webpage on the Entry Only New England website which transparently provides access to your contact information (your property address, your first name, email address, phone number, and a website (URL) of your choice (optional)).
Keep in mind that third-party websites like Zillow and Trulia (which merged as of 2015 yet still maintain separate websites), and Realtor.com are for-profit businesses which have their own business models that absolutely include selling advertising space to real estate agents so that when a buyer requests more information on a home in a particular zip code, the agent paying for advertising in that zip code will be sent that inquiry directly, bypassing the listing brokerage altogether.
Zillow and Trulia make it easy for an interested buyer or renter to contact up to four (4) agents about a single property listing, only one (1) of those four (4) being the listing broker, and, when submitting a contact request form it does not default a buyer to contacting the listing broker. While Realtor.com denotes a property listing is presented and brokered by the listing brokerage, Realtor.com’s business model is to present a single option to get more information about a property, so an interested buyer or renter will use a form to request information from an unknown source – a broker or agent that pays Realtor.com for advertising, not the listing broker, will receive that inquiry every single time.
Similar to the MLS itself, third-party websites do not allow contact information of any kind in their public descriptions. Zillow goes so far as to have a long list of “stop words”, that if triggered, removes the public description provided by the MLS and defaults to a generic system-generated description.
With that said, we strive to maximize the use of both your contact information where it’s allowed to be placed, as well as that of the listing brokerage, and, have put together an automated system so that we can transparently and promptly facilitate you establishing direct contact with buyers and renters and/or their agents when they contact us directly, and eliminate creating a bottleneck with us as a communication middleman.
Many interested parties will contact us via email or phone about your listing, and taking the above into consideration, we’ve constructed a communication system that explicitly directs interested parties to stuartstjames.com/listings, which ultimately facilitates an interested party establishing direct contact with you. Said differently, instead of us emailing or calling you about an inquiry we receive on your listing, which is inherently slow and prone to human error, the automated system we built will give the interested party who contacts us the ability to obtain your contact information and quickly connect with you directly.
Given the business models of third-party websites like Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, and others, clearly not all inquiries originating from these sites will come to us as the listing brokerage, some inquiries will indeed go to Buyer’s Agents that pay for advertising with those third-party websites – while we do everything possible within the rules and regulations of the MLS to facilitate a connection with the FSBO, the reality is these third party websites have an agenda more aligned with generating ad revenue than helping FSBOs eliminate Buyer’s Agents from transactions.
For more information on this topic, please see:
Along with deciding the list price of your own home, property photos for an MLS listing are clearly important.
Here are the facts when it comes to MLS listing photos in Massachusetts:
- This is a simple step that helps so many of our FSBOs – to avoid confusion and to clearly articulate to us the order in which you want your photos to appear on your listing, we recommend naming your photo files in the order you’d like them to appear (1.jpg, 2.jpg, 3.jpg, etc.). Avoid adding any additional letters or numbers to the file names. Please use “1.jpg” for your first photo and increment up from there and we’ll be sure to get them in the right order for you
- Signage and contact information in photos is not allowed – the rules and regulations of MLS PIN state that you cannot include signage or contact information of any kind in a property photo – while a short room label or description on a photo is fine (yet rarely used), don’t waste your time submitting property photos that have signs or any contact information visible whatsoever, even if the objects are at a distance
- Ideal dimensions of MLS listing property photos – according to MLS PIN staff, the optimum base dimensions (in pixels) for property photos in the MLS is 512 (width) x 400 (height). You do not need massively sized photos that are multiple MBs in size for your photos to look good on the MLS, as the average 512 x 400 image is well under 100 KB in size
- Easiest and most efficient way to manipulate property photos – when you begin a new listing on our website and are given the opportunity to upload your photos, you’ll be able to upload up to 42 photos at one time, and we limit the size of each photo to 1 MB – we like using the free online tool called PicMonkey to edit, resize, rename, and save photos to a computer so they’re ready for uploading to your listing. When working with your photo files, do not attempt to change a photo’s resolution, simply reduce its dimensions, which will significantly reduce file size while at the same time not compromise image quality (or resolution) whatsoever. You do not need massively sized photos, be that dimensions or physical file size – the largest standard photo dimensions of a third party website is probably at Realtor.com where they use approximately 960 x 400
- Maximum number of photos allowed – MLS PIN, the MLS system we use and the largest in New England, allows up to forty two (42) property photos per listing – regardless of whether the listing is an entry only MLS listing or not
A real estate virtual tour is a simulation of an existing property, typically composed of a sequence of videos and/or still images.
Approximately 18% of single family home listings in MLS Property Information Network (the largest MLS system in New England and the exclusive MLS system partner of Entry Only New England) have some sort of virtual tour associated with them.
For sale by owners (FSBOs) are welcome to submit a virtual tour with their flat fee MLS entry only listing, to be posted to the MLS, yet the virtual tour must be in compliance with MLS Property Information Network Rules & Regulations 1.0(e).
Essentially, 1.0(e) establishes that, similar to property photos, virtual tours cannot contain identifying contact information.
Every virtual tour submitted with a listing is reviewed by MLS Property Information Network front office personnel (not Entry Only New England) before being posted to the MLS. If a tour is not acceptable an email will be sent explaining why the tour was rejected so it can be remedied and resubmitted.
During the flat fee MLS entry only listing process, if a FSBO has a virtual tour, the URL at which the tour is hosted can be provided and will be submitted to MLS Property Information Network front office personnel for approval once the listing is published in the MLS (there’s no ability to submit a virtual tour for a “pre-approval” to MLS front office personnel).
The MLS does not accept virtual tours hosted on YouTube because it makes it possible for consumers to contact the listing agent directly and because YouTube sometimes contains questionable content under related media.
That being said if the virtual tour is hosted where there are no additional unrelated videos, there’s no ability to leave comments or contact information, the MLS could accept it. Dropbox, Box, or similar video hosting sites are appropriate so long as comments are disabled for the shared file.
There is no limit to the title of the video providing it does not include agent or office information. The property address can be displayed on virtual tours. Providing information about the property itself including open house data is allowed on the tours.
To add a virtual tour to your entry only MLS listing, simply submit a listing update request and select “Add Virtual Tour” as the “Update Request Type”.
Similarly, we introduced the ability for a FSBO to provide a property related website (URL) when listing or updating an entry only MLS listing for sale or rent. Providing a URL is optional, yet it can be any URL associated with a property, a website, a YouTube video, a sales landing page, etc. – this is different than a virtual tour as described above but can be a virtual tour. The MLS system does not publish or syndicate property related URLs, so this URL will be published here alongside the other contact information we make available in the process / system we’ve put in place to facilitate direct communication between FSBOs and interested parties. FSBOs can add a website (URL) to their listing during signup, or add/update the URL throughout the duration of a listing via our Listing Update Request Form – not every FSBO has a website or content online for their property, yet we encourage all FSBOs to take advantage of this feature as the URL is not subject to the same stringent requirements as, for instance, adding a virtual tour to your MLS listing, where no contact information, no YouTube videos, etc. are allowed. This website (URL) feature provides FSBOs a lot of flexibility to share their direct contact information and use the platforms of their choice to host their content however much or little there is.
To instantly add a website (URL) to your MLS listing today, submit a Listing Update Request Form of type “Website (URL)”.
With any real estate transaction, there’s paperwork, offers to negotiate, contracts, escrow accounts for earnest money deposits, showings, open houses, etc., and with an entry only MLS listing, the property owner, or a licensed real estate attorney you decide to hire, is responsible for such activities.
No. With an entry only MLS listing, the homeowner / seller is responsible for the activities typically handled by a Seller’s Agent, including open houses. You will have the ability to add open house announcements to your listing at your convenience electronically via our website. We also provide each client free professionally designed FSBO real estate flyer templates.
To add an open house to your MLS listing, simply submit a Listing Update Request Form. Once added to the MLS, your open house information will be syndicated to third party websites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com without any further action needed on your part. For maximum syndication exposure, we recommend submitting your update request to add an open house before Wednesday at noon EST the Sunday before your open house. You are welcome to request open houses in advance.
Professionally designed real estate flyers for both open houses and private showings help FSBOs command top dollar for their property. In several of our listing packages, we provide clients with free real estate flyer templates for Word and Mac that are both highly professional in design and easy to edit.
Lock boxes may be common in your local market, it’s entirely your choice whether you decide to leverage one or not, however, there’s no requirement to do so.
Should you use a lock box to safeguard access to your property, you will directly provide the necessary code to Buyer’s Agents or buyers upon qualifying the inquiry and setting up a showing.
We do not rent or otherwise provision lock boxes in any capacity.
When you submit a Listing Update Request form, we confirm receipt of that request and strive to process the change directly into the MLS system by the next business day, oftentimes faster. After a change is made directly in the MLS as the ultimate system of record for your listing, it will syndicate across the Internet to third party websites (such as Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, etc.). FSBOs can make an unlimited number of update requests on their listing at no additional charge.
Within 24 hours of accepting an offer, you must change the status of your property. This is a rule and regulation of the MLS. To change the status of your property, simply submit a Listing Update Request form.
What property status should you choose after accepting an offer?
The overwhelming majority of FSBOs change their property status to Under Agreement following the mutual acceptance of an offer. Under Agreement is the most common status to utilize after an offer is signed, that’s true for both flat fee MLS listings as well as listings from Realtors that charge a full commission.
There are some FSBOs who want to utilize a Contingent status (see all MLS property status types), signifying the property will continue to be shown and back up offers accepted. If a property is placed in a Contingent status, one of the following contingencies must exist: Inspection, Attorney Review, Appraisal, Financing, Third-Party Approval, or Pending P&S. Once that contingency is met, the property will be moved into an Under Agreement status. Because Contingent status is not terribly common, and the MLS does not want the status type misused, in addition to submitting a Listing Update Request form to change a property’s status, to utilize the Contingent property status type, FSBOs must also fill out and sign an official MLS form called a Contingent Status Request Form and include it in their update request.
Yes. When you list FSBO on the MLS with Entry Only New England, you’re welcome to move your listing into a Temporarily Withdrawn status, which removes the property from the market.
To reactivate the listing at a later time, you’d simply submit a Listing Update Request form to move the property to a Back on Market status.
There’s no additional charge or fee to use the Temporarily Withdrawn property status, it’s part of our unlimited property updates feature for all our listings, so long as you’re within your listing agreement coverage period.
While moving a listing into a Temporarily Withdrawn status temporarily stops the accrual of days on market (DOM) for a listing, it does not change your listing agreement coverage period end date in any way. For more information on this topic, please see the article Maximize Flat Fee MLS Listings with Temporarily Withdrawn Status.
Yes, of course. Simply use our Listing Update Request form to request cancellation of your listing at any time during your listing agreement period. If you decide that an entry only MLS listing is not for you, or even if you’d like to switch your listing to a traditional brokerage charging a full commission, no problem. We do not impose cancellation penalties or fees of any kind, however, we do not provide refunds.
You are also welcome to temporarily withdraw your listing from the MLS, and put the listing back on the market at a later date, at no charge, so long as these updates fall within the duration of your listing agreement. As a courtesy, Entry Only New England wants to make clients aware of the Temporarily Withdrawn property status type – there is no additional fee to use a Temporarily Withdrawn status, such a change request is included in a client’s unlimited listing changes.