Should Flat Fee MLS Florida Sellers Negotiate Their Own Sales Contracts?

Monday, November 24, 2008, 10:10AM

By: Keith Gordon

Do flat fee MLS Florida "by owner" sellers get less for their homes if they do the negotiations? I am Keith Gordon, a Florida real estate broker that negotiates on behalf of many flat fee MLS sellers in Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Ft. Lauderdale, and other Florida cities.

This blog post is about whether or not self-represented flat fee sellers get the same price for their homes when they represent themselves verses having me or another skilled Realtor® negotiate for them.

I have been actively involved listing homes flat fee in the MLS in Tampa, Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville, Ft. Lauderdale, and other Florida cities since 2000.

When self-represented sellers negotiate for themselves, they have a 50/50 chance of getting in right.

I have listed over 2,400 properties in Florida and have spoken with at least 1,600 of my past flat rate MLS clients. I have negotiated over 100 contracts for our contract-to-close flat fee clients.

I have taken over 7,000 calls from Florida Realtors® over the past 8 years requesting showing appointments in Orlando, Tampa, Miami and other cities in between.

I have received feedback from at least 100 Realtors® that have negotiated directly with my flat fee listed clients in Florida. Some have complained that they do not like dealing directly with sellers and wished I was doing the negotiating for the seller. While others, that have worked directly with my flat fee clients, would never complain because they succeeded and earned their commission.

I am an experienced on the pros and cons of being flat fee MLS listed in Florida.

When self-represented sellers negotiate for themselves, they have a 50/50 chance of getting in right.

Flat rate MLS sellers are at a big disadvantage when negotiating against a skilled (or unskilled) Realtor® for 5 reasons:

One…The Realtor® usually knows more about real estate contracts than the self-represented seller does. Sellers have a limited knowledge base to draw from of many elements of a real estate contract.

Two…When flat fee sellers "self-represent", there is no 'messenger' to help mediate the deal. This is where things go wrong with 'self-representation.' When I negotiate for a seller, I have the opportunity to interview the buyer's agent for 'deal clues.' Clues such as what the buyer does for a living, where they are from, motivation and other nuances that will give me clues as to how they are thinking. The self-represented seller can not get this same information because the seller is perceived as the adversary when dealing directly with a Realtor® and I am just the messenger.

Three…Emotions can stop a deal. When a seller deals directly with the buyer's agent, their buyer is in essence sitting at the negotiation table with the seller. That is a disadvantage. When I negotiate, the buyer perceives me as a semi-impartial professional that understands real estate which ads reassurance, subliminal as it may, that they are getting a fair deal.

Four…Is the ability to be forthright with my seller and the other Realtor®. Like an attorney would negotiate with another attorney, all I want is to have a meeting of the minds as quickly as possible.

Five…And last, but not least, is the final sales price. Sellers need to help buyer's agents quickly understand what they want and why their buyer should pay that price. That may entail different 'countering' strategies and psychology to arrive at that price. Knowing how to handle the buyer's agent is the key. You need to speak their language and help them to keep on track which is to earn a commission by closing this deal. Buyer's agents single goal is to find their buyers a home at a price and terms that are 'market reasonable' and not 'market unreasonable.' When that is accomplished, they get to earn a commission.

Flat fee MLS is an effective by owner marketing approach in Florida. It can save by owners from paying any commission if sold without a Realtor®. If a Realtor® finds the buyer, then the by owner seller pays just that agent.

Saving money is one thing. Representing yourself is a completely different story and at times a dangerous proposition.

I recommend ADDvantage PLUS™, our hybrid flat fee MLS listing that acts and looks just like a full-service listing. The cost is Not Available. With ADDvantage PLUS™, we take all calls, schedule all appointment for the seller, negotiate all offers and close the transaction. The seller enjoys the cost savings of flat fee and the benefits of having a professional negotiator handle the buyer's agent.

Call us anytime, 727-942-2929 or 1-877-232-9695.