FSBOs leverage flat fee MLS listing services like Entry Only New England to get their property into the MLS without having to pay a large real estate agent commission.
The exposure the MLS provides is unparalleled. We all know this.
As a FSBO who uses a flat fee MLS listing, are buyer inquiries regarding your property making their way to you?
Are buyers (or renters) able to contact you directly?
Are these buyer inquiries being “skimmed” by your flat fee MLS listing broker and passed to their agents as leads, potentially eliminating the possibility of you working with a buyer that doesn’t have an agent and saving even more on real estate agent commission?
There’s only one way to find out, and that’s to test your MLS listing.
The best way to ensure property inquiries and communication regarding your MLS listing are being handled properly is to test the integrity of the communication. This is easily done by you or a friend posing as a potential buyer and contacting the listing broker with a test phone or email inquiry using an email address not already associated with your listing.
There are two things that should happen once this test buyer inquiry is submitted.
- Prompt Response – the flat fee MLS broker who listed your property on the MLS should respond promptly to the “buyer”, and in that response, furnish the contact information of the FSBO seller to facilitate the buyer contacting the FSBO directly.
- Transparent Notice – the flat fee MLS broker should transparently and clearly set expectations with you up front as to exactly how communication will be handled when a buyer, renter, or their agent inquires about your property directly to your listing brokerage.
The same test could be performed using a phone inquiry on your property, the result should be the same, the flat fee MLS broker should promptly and transparently facilitate the “buyer” establishing direct contact with you as the seller so that you can engage and respond with your personal care and attention.
How Buyer Inquiries Are Handled at Entry Only New England
At Entry Only New England, historically, we handled all of this by email given its transparency and integrity as a communication model. However, using email involves reliance on manual intervention by staff, and despite our prompt customer service, still makes us a bottleneck, a communication middleman if you will.
We put in a new approach to eliminate the middleman (read more at Huge Advancement in FSBO and Buyer Communication).
We keep it simple at Entry Only New England, if a buyer inquires about one of our flat fee MLS listings, we promptly and transparently facilitate the buyer connecting directly with the FSBO seller by furnishing them with the FSBO’s contact information.
Flat Fee MLS Entry Only Communication Pitfalls
The majority of buyer inquiries on a flat fee MLS listing should, right out of the gate, make it to the FSBO seller directly.
They really should.
If the FSBO seller’s contact information is placed in the MLS listing, and with most buyers being represented by agents and those agents having exclusive access as a licensed professional directly to the MLS, agents can contact FSBO sellers directly on behalf of their clients.
So, as a FSBO, you want your FSBO contact information in the MLS. It only makes sense.
More information on this topic can be found in the answer to a frequently asked question called how will people get a hold of me to see my property?
Subtle, yet something that many FSBOs do not know is that third party websites like Zillow and Trulia (which merged as of 2015), and Realtor.com are for-profit businesses, and part of the business model of sites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com is to sell 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 will be sent that inquiry directly, bypassing the listing brokerage altogether.
Flat Fee MLS Brokers Steal Leads and Sell Contact Information
The reason why you, as a FSBO selling your own home without an agent, want transparency in the communication process, is that you don’t want your flat fee MLS broker turning inquiries on your property, inquiries intended for you, into leads for their brokerage.
Worse yet, you don’t want your flat fee MLS broker using an unrepresented buyer inquiry on your property as a mechanism to get paid a commission on the sale of your home.
So, inquiries should be responded to promptly, where in real estate time is of the essence, and requests should be passed to the FSBO seller directly rather than the broker taking them as leads. A broker could use those leads to position other properties for sale, or, rob the FSBO seller of the chance to find a buyer with no agent.
As a FSBO, you want to avoid using a flat fee MLS broker who “finds” you buyers, creating a situation where you wind up paying the buyer’s agent commission to your flat fee MLS broker when there was no buyer’s agent in the mix from the beginning.
FSBO Flat Fee MLS Listing Test Inquiry
So, back to your “test inquiry”.
After the test inquiry is submitted, and after (hopefully) the interested party connects with you directly, it’s important to also watch to see what happens in the coming days. Down the road, are you contacted, but this time by some random third party to whom you never gave your contact information – did the contact information you used in your buyer test inquiry get sold to a third party?
To best see this in action, it’s advisable that you create a new email address just for the test inquiry – you can easily create a new email address these days, they’re quite disposable, and it’s just as easy to have incoming mail to that new address forwarded to your primary email address so that you can both see that a message was initially sent to the test email address and also have the flexibility to only check a single email account.