How to List Your House for Sale on the MLS

Apr 18, 2024 2:00:00 PM / by Madeleine Osprey

How to List Your House for Sale on the MLS

Selling your house requires finding the right buyer, and today, 100% of buyers use the internet to shop for homes while 52% find their home online. However, the information they browse on popular real estate websites typically originates from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), a comprehensive database of homes for sale that is primarily used by licensed real estate agents. In fact, according to recent data, 89% of homebuyers in 2023 found their dream home with the assistance of an agent.

It's important to note that the MLS is not a self-serve platform that homeowners can freely access on their own. Listing your house on the MLS involves more than simply logging into a website and creating a post, as you would on social media platforms like Facebook. That doesn’t make it any less important: homes that are listed on the MLS also tend to sell at a higher price — up to 17% more.

Here we'll explore the various options available to you when it comes to listing your home on the MLS. We'll discuss the path of working with a real estate agent and also provide guidance for those who prefer to navigate the process independently. You’ll come away with a clear understanding of how to effectively list your property on the MLS to reach the widest possible audience of potential buyers.

What is the MLS? 

MLSs are private databases where Realtors® input their property listings. These listings serve as advertisements for a home that is for sale and contain all of the pertinent information a potential buyer would need to know, from how many bedrooms to how large the lot to the fact the roof was replaced two years ago. MLSs start local — Atlanta, for example, will have a different MLS to Houston — but they all syndicate to other online platforms. As such, there are nearly 600 MLSs nationwide.

“By listing your property on your local MLS, you’re actually putting more eyes on your home than if you were posting it on just one platform,” says Vicente Enriquez, an agent and team lead of The Enriquez Group in San Diego. “By having your Realtor post your home on the MLS, they’re able to relay all pertinent information about your property and upload any relevant documents that a potential buyer may need to know.”

While the MLS is a powerful tool for selling your home, it's important to note that your home listing itself holds significant value. So much so, that agents are willing to pay for it. Traditional home selling methods and platforms have kept this value out of reach for homeowners, but innovative companies like Redy are changing the game. Redy recognizes the inherent value of your home listing and enables you to unlock it by connecting you with agents who are willing to pay you a cash reward upfront as a commitment to selling your home – whenever you’re ready to get started, we’d be happy to help you tap into that value.

The traditional MLS process

If you go the conventional route of working with a listing agent to whom you’ll pay a commission when your home sells, the first course of action will be for them to list your property on the MLS.

They’ll gather detailed information from you, from county records, and perhaps even past listings if your house was on the market within recent years. Your agent will likely ask you for any recent inspection reports, maintenance records, and receipts from renovation work or appliance purchases that may be relevant to the sale of your home. This is also a good time to assess any immediate repair needs and consider any small improvements that may help enhance the value of your home when it hits the market and potential buyers start to walk through.

Finally, it’ll soon be time to prep your house for photos. Whether you’ve moved out and will stage the property with furniture and decor, or you’ll simply tidy up and declutter the space, you’ll want the home to look its best inside and out. Your agent may take photos themselves, or they may send in a professional photographer to capture photos and video for virtual tours — all of which will accompany the property details that go into the MLS. 

Can I list my own home on the MLS?

While you can’t directly list your home for sale on the MLS — only licensed real estate agents can do that — you do have a few options other than working with a full-service real estate agent. 

“There are input-only Realtors who, for a minimal charge, can add a property to the MLS and direct any inquiries to the homeowner,” says Enriquez. 

Input-only means exactly that. You can pay a licensed agent to go ahead and list your house on the MLS, and that’s where the service stops. It’s an option to consider if you’re planning to sell your home yourself (For Sale By Owner, or FSBO, as it’s commonly referred), but if not, this tactic isn’t necessarily something Enriquez recommends. 

“I believe you get what you pay for,” he says. “If you feel that the value you’re receiving from the agent you’re working with is worth the cost, then I have no problem with it — but I think the tough part is that most individuals assume all agents are the same and don’t actually take the time to look at all the options.” 

That said, let’s take a look at a few alternative options for listing a home on the MLS before getting into the advantages of working with a traditional Realtor.

Flat-fee MLS listing services

These flat-fee services are where you’ll find the input-only Realtors whom Enriquez mentioned. They won’t represent you through the sales process; their only role is to list your home on the MLS. Prices vary but tend to start at a few hundred dollars, so using a flat-fee MLS service is an effective way to save money — particularly if you’re going the FSBO route — when your biggest priority is just making sure your property is on the MLS. 

You’ll save money by not having to pay commission to a listing agent, and the flat-fee structure means there won’t be any unexpected costs that crop up during the process of putting your home into the MLS. And because you’re providing all the information yourself, you’ll have full control over what goes into the listing. Remember, though, that the service stops once your house is listed on the MLS. You’re on your own from there.

Discount brokers

A discount broker is similar to a conventional agent in that you’ll have someone representing you during the home sale process, but their services may be limited in scope. 

Discount brokers work at a reduced commission rate — say, at 3% instead of 5% or 6% — which means you’ll save money over working with a full-service agent. But it’s important to be aware of exactly which services you can expect from your discount broker, and understand where you’ll be left to your own devices. 

Flat Fee Agents

Working with a flat-fee agent can strike a balance between cost savings and professional support. Instead of taking a commission based on a percentage of the sales price, flat-fee agents work with you for an agreed-upon set price. 

They’ll have full access to the MLS and can guide you through other parts of the marketing and sales process — but as with discount brokers, it’s important that you understand the full scope and limitations of the services you’re paying for. 

Per-day pricing

Some MLS platforms allow homeowners to pay a daily fee to list their property. This means that, if you believe your home will sell quickly, you can work with the MLS to list your house and only pay for the days that it remains active on the platform. 

This option can become expensive if your house takes longer to sell than anticipated, so proceed with caution and make sure you have a strong marketing plan in place from day one.

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Benefits of working with a Realtor

There are lots of great reasons to work with a Realtor — chief among them is experience and expertise. Real estate agents work with homes in your neighborhood every day. They understand the market value and which housing features and amenities are most appealing to buyers right now. 

A good agent will do more than just list your house on the MLS and tell you to have a nice day — they’ll be able to guide you through the process of preparing your home, negotiating its sale, and making sure each step is efficient and accurately executed. And when it comes to that all-important MLS listing, agents aren’t just doing data entry — they’re crafting a story.

“Numbers make you think, but emotion makes you act,” says Enriquez. “We’ll paint the property in the best light possible by finding out what its perks are and showing them to potential buyers.” 

Realtors also have extensive networks of other agents and housing professionals, and they can leverage those networks to gain more exposure for your home. More eyes on your listing means more opportunities for showings to interested buyers — which increases your chances of selling your home quickly and at a fair price.

When you work with an agent through Redy, you not only benefit from their experience, expertise, and network but also from their direct investment in your success. Redy agents pay you a cash reward upfront as a commitment to selling your home, which sets them apart from agents on other platforms. This unique feature ensures that your agent is fully dedicated to getting you the best possible outcome for your home sale.

More value with Redy

Your home listing is more than just a collection of facts — it's a powerful marketing tool that showcases your property's unique features and selling points to potential buyers. From the square footage to the details of your stunning renovations, your listing paints a picture that entices buyers to take a closer look.

What you may not know is that your home listing itself has inherent value, and agents are willing to pay for it. Traditional home selling methods have long kept this value hidden, but Redy does things differently.

On Redy, agents compete for the opportunity to represent your home and are willing to pay you a cash reward upfront as a direct investment in your listing and a commitment to delivering results. Use those funds to offset moving expenses, make repairs, or purchase furniture for your new home.

Redy is unlike any other platform, unlocking the value of your listing by requiring agents to offer an upfront cash reward for the opportunity to sell your home.

Learn more about featuring your property on Redy and discover how much agents are willing to pay you for the privilege of listing your home today!

Madeleine Osprey is a freelance writer and a former Realtor. Using her firsthand experience and network of industry professionals, she writes about real estate with the aim of helping homeowners better understand their options and make confident decisions about their property. Madeleine is based in New England and enjoys long walks with her Whippet named Gregory.

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