Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Is Realtor.com the same as the MLS?

What is the difference between the MLS and  Realtor.com?   This is one of our most frequently asked questions.


The MLS and Realtor.com are related services but each one serves a different market and both can be used by FSBO sellers to advertise their home.   It is important to remember that all homes listed in their local MLS across the country are also listed on Realtor.com.  If you only want to list on Realtor.com and not your local MLS, that can be done, but we're often asked what the difference is.

Realtor.com primarily reaches individuals searching for home, as the largest real estate website it reaches a very broad group of buyers and people just considering to move.  Most brokers don't search Realtor.com, instead they rely on their local MLS network to find homes for their clients.

What does this mean for you?  First as a seller you must decide what type of buyers you are willing to consider offers from:

   1.  Independent buyers with no agents (no commissions owed)
   2.  Independent buyers (no commissions) and buyers with agents ( 50% of the normal commission owed)

It's really that simple.  If you want to primarily reach independent buyers then you should only list on Realtor.com. If you want to consider all possible buyers, then list on the MLS which includes a listing on Realtor.com.

Ok so at this point most people tell us - Of course I don't want to pay any commission period, even 3% or half the normal rate.  But the problem is that most buyers are working with agents, up to 80%, so you have to make a choice - do you want to exclude this pool of possible buyers?

The goal for most sellers is to get the best net offer, if that's one with a commission or one without it shouldn't matter, only how much money ultimately ends up in your pocket.  If you're willing to offer up to 3% commission to attract buyers with brokers and expand your possible number of offers, then the MLS is the right choice.

To learn more about the MLS, check these resources from around the web:

US Justice Department: Consumers Can Save Thousands of Dollars in Commissions
Wikipedia article about the MLS