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LOCALLY OWNED AND OPERATED IN CENTRAL FLORIDA
Attention Realtors/Agents: We pay a $50 referral fee at time of payment for any flat fee MLS for sale leads you send to us. (Sorry no referral fees available on rental listings.)
*** Video message regarding flat fee MLS listings ***
1. What exactly is the MLS? The MLS is a powerful tool that Realtors use to market properties. MLS stands for Multiple-Listing Service which is the computer database that Realtors use nationwide to list real estate. The MLS is owned by local member Realtor associations and is typically divided into regions or counties. The My Florida Regional MLS is the largest MLS in Florida and is shared by over 30,000+ Realtors in the Central/West Florida area including those in metro Orlando, Tampa, and St Petersburg. The South Florida MLS services the South Florida area including Miami-Dade and Broward Counties and is shared by some 10,000+ Realtors in the Miami, Hialeah, and Fort Lauderdale area. The Beaches MLS services the Treasure Coast area including West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Jupiter, Stuart, and St Lucie. The Northeast Florida MLS services the entire metro Jacksonville and Palatka areas. The Southwest Florida MLS services the Greater Fort Myers and Naples areas. Realtors who are members of these MLS's can view your property information and show your property to their customers. The general public does not have access to the MLS. Generally only dues paying Realtors have access to these databases, however MLS data typically uploads onto many other real estate websites.
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2. What other websites does the MLS load onto? By listing your property in the MLS, your property is automatically loaded Zillow.com, Trulia.com, and Realtor.com where millions of potential buyers can review your property's information. The MLS also automatically uploads onto many other internet sites like State 27 Homes.com, Orlando Sentinel.com, Homes.com, MSN.com, SDRhouses.com, and many more similar real estate websites. You can see a detailed list of websites by clicking here. Being that these websites are owned by 3rd party companies, we only have limited control over the exact content uploaded onto these websites from the MLS. However the exposure that uploading onto these websites provides is unmatched by any non-MLS real estate service provider. Also the MLS rules strictly prohibit us from putting anyone's contact information (including names, phone numbers, email addresses, or websites) into the public remarks section and thus your contact information will not appear on these 3rd party websites - they will only show our contact information. Our promise to you is that we will always forward the contact information of prospective buyers directly to you.
3. Why would I do a flat fee MLS listing instead of selling as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO)? The answer is simple: Market Exposure. Most serious buyers are working with a Realtor to help them buy a house. The MLS database is used exclusively by Realtors to search for properties for sale in the area. Thousands of Realtors use the MLS every day to search for properties. The MLS automatically uploads onto many real estate websites and exposes your home to millions of potential buyers by virtue of these websites. Some 70%+ of all house buyers begin their search on the internet, and nearly 80% of all FSBO sellers end up hiring a Realtor to sell their house anyway. The cost to list in the MLS is only a few hundred dollars, and you get all that additional exposure. If you are considering using one of those FSBO or For Sale By Owner type services that charge hundreds or thousands of dollars upfront and do not even offer MLS exposure, you may want to strongly consider doing a flat fee MLS listing instead of or even in addition to those services.
Other traditional FSBO marketing includes store bought (often unprofessional) yard signs, newspaper ads (quite expensive), property flyers, posting on FSBO websites, open houses, etc. While all these things can generate leads and we certainly do not discourage them, the exposure they give you is limited at best and often produces dismal results. As we stated before, most serious buyers are working with a Realtor. Smart Realtors are going to make sure that their buyer is pre-approved to obtain a mortgage before they even start showing the buyer a house. That Realtor is going to want to know that they are going to get paid a commission prior to showing your house to their buyer. That is another feature of the MLS. By advertising in the MLS, you are offering broker protection by automatically offering a commission to all of the member Realtors. While there is no guarantee that the MLS will sell your house, it is definitely your best avenue for getting your property exposed to the greatest number of potential buyers.
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4. Why shouldn't I just hire a full service Realtor to sell my house for me? That is definitely an important question to consider. Just remember that we give you a choice of what services you can purchase. Many of the big box corporate and franchise realty firms will not allow you to negotiate on their commission rates or services. In fact if many of these big box firms had their way, they would drive MLS-only and menu-based firms out of town with tar and feathers. Unfortunately, the internet has greatly leveled the playing field and has caused many of the big box firms to lose a ton of market share to alternative brokerage models.
The real questions to be asking are: What services do I need from my Realtor and how much should I pay for it? Most firms want to do everything and want to charge you roughly 6% of the sales price to do this. On a $300,000 house this will cost you $18,000. Typically half of this commission (or 3%) is paid to the buyer’s Realtor, so the listing broker would get paid $9,000 on this transaction. With a flat fee MLS listing you pay us $299 upfront and you get to keep $8,701 of your equity. Since nearly 70% of all listings are sold by a buyer's Realtor and not the listing Realtor, why pay them an extra 3 to 4% in commission to perform their services. If you are comfortable showing your own property and negotiating with buyers, then you should definitely consider selling your property using a flat fee listing. You can always upgrade your listing with us to full-service at anytime.
5. Explain to me how a flat fee MLS listing works. This is a quick summary of our flat fee MLS program. With our Basic Listing Plan, your property information along with up to 25 color photographs (some MLS's only allow up to 12 photos - call for details) gets placed into the MLS and gets advertised onto the many websites listed above. You take care of the showings, the negotiations, and the closing. If another Realtor sells it, you pay them the pre-agreed commission (typically around 3%). If you sell it yourself, no additional commission is due. You will save thousands. Ask about our special programs for multiple properties. Click here for more information about our special investor programs. We do handle routine phone calls regarding Realtor showings and basic property information so as not to inundate you with phone calls, but any important calls like showing appointments or contract offers are forwarded directly to you. You can pickup a Sand Dollar "For Sale" sign when you stop by the office with the forms and your payment or a sign can be shipped to you at your request. Blank contract forms can be emailed or sent to you. Also for just a little bit more money we offer a Deluxe Listing Plan that offers many more upgrades to the Basic Plan including a virtual/video tour, market updates, electronic lockbox, and more. You can pay for the Deluxe Plan or just pay for certain additional services as you need them. A price list is located towards the bottom of this web page.
COMPARE YOUR COSTS:For a $500,000 house. An average 6% commission costs you $30,000. Or with us you only pay $15,299 if another Realtor sells your house. Your savings is $14,701.
For a $200,000 house. An average 6% commission costs you $12,000. Or with us you only pay $6,299 if another Realtor sells your house. Your savings is $5,701.
For a $100,000 house. An average 6% commission costs you $6,000. Or with us you only pay $3,299 if another Realtor sells your house. Your savings is $2,701.
Click here for our PRICE AND SERVICE LIST.
6. Can I offer a property For Rent in the MLS? Yes. Just like we can input a home for sale, we can also input a home for rent in the MLS. The procedures are basically the same as a home for sale. However the data input form and the commission/fee structure is slightly different. Sorry we do not offer For Rent signs to our customers. (For Rent signs are available at most hardware or home improvement stores.)
7. If I sell or rent my house on my own, what happens? Many times our customers end up selling to a buyer that found the property on Realtor.com, Zillow, or other marketing without involving another Realtor. If you happen to be fortunate enough to sell or rent your house on your own, then your savings are even greater. You do not owe us anything more than the upfront money already paid to us. Upon closing, we will need a copy of the signed purchase contract and settlement statement in order to close out the file. You can provide us the contact information for the title company or attorney handling the closing, and we will take care of obtaining the settlement statement. If you end up renting your property, we just need you to send in the completed Status Change Form so that we can close out your listing in the MLS.
8. What counties / areas do you service? We currently service 39 Florida counties. We service all of Central Florida including the entire region around Orlando, Kissimmee, Apopka, Altamonte Springs, Clermont, Ocala, Gainesville, Deltona, and Deland. We service the entire Space Coast of Melbourne, Cocoa Beach, Brevard, Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, and Palm Coast. We service the West Coast including Tampa, St Petersburg, Sarasota, Bradenton, Lakeland, Spring Hill, Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and Naples. We service South Florida and the Treasure Coast including Miami, Hialeah, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Stuart, and Port St Lucie. We service Northeast Florida including Jacksonville, Orange Park, Palatka, and St Augustine. If you do not see your county on our map, call us anyway because we still may be able to help you. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILED SERVICE AREA MAP
9. How long is my listing for? Our 'For Sale' listing agreement is for 12 months; as necessary you can extend this listing at $100 for each additional 6 month period. Our 'For Rent' listing agreement is for 4 months; as necessary you can extend the 'For Rent' listing at $99 for each additional 4 month period. If you are struggling to sell or rent your house, please contact us so we can help you re-evaluate it. We have full-service Realtors and property managers on staff to help you. (If your home sells or rents in less time, the remaining listing time cannot be applied to other properties.)
10. How much time does it take to get listed on the MLS and the internet sites? Typically we can get your listing loaded into the MLS within 1 business day of receiving all of the paperwork, photographs, and payment from you. Realtor.com and the other internet websites upload their data directly from the MLS. Listings can take up to 1 day after your property is active in the MLS to show up on these websites.
11. Can I make changes to my listing once it has been inputted into the MLS? Yes. We allow unlimited changes to your MLS listing during the first 14 days. After that we allow 1 change per week with a maximum of 20 changes during the life of the listing. We are quite liberal with allowing changes as long as we feel we are not being taken advantage of. All changes will need to be in writing and submitted on a Status Change Form.
12. Can I use my own For Sale By Owner sign? We recommend that you use our company For Sale sign. Other Realtors often get confused or nervous about not getting paid their commission if they do not see the Listing Realtor's sign in the yard. If you do want to use your own sign, we recommend that you write the MLS # on the sign along with the words "Brokers Protected." That should make other Realtors feel more comfortable in showing your property. If you are attempting to rent your property, we recommend inputting your property on Craigslist and Rentals.com either through our firm or on your own and using their sign with your contact information on it.
13. How much commission should I offer to a buyer's agent? You are free to offer whatever commission you want to other Realtors. Our standard 'For Sale' listing agreement has 3% pre-printed on the form, but you are welcome to cross that out and change it. However, we recommend that for properties priced under $500,000 that you offer no less than 2.5% to them. For properties priced above $500,000, we recommend that you offer no less than 2%. For low-end cheap properties (i.e. a $30,000 house where 3% would only = $900), we recommend a minimum commission of at least $1,000. With properties listed For Rent, we recommend offering no less than $200 to other Realtors as a referral fee for bringing a tenant. Many of our customers do offer higher percentages or bonuses to encourage Realtors to show their property and make higher offers.
14. Is my listing going to appear any different in the MLS and the internet than a listing by a full service Realtor? Your listing will appear in the MLS and the internet exactly the same as any other listing. The only exception is that the MLS will contain a note in the “Realtor Remarks” section that this is a limited service listing with seller not being represented and that other Realtors should contact you directly in order to show the property or negotiate an offer. Other than that, there is no difference.
15. Will other Realtors sell my house or will they avoid my listing because it is an MLS-only listing? Smart Realtors show their customers everything that is available for sale that meets their buyer’s criteria. Every property is a little bit different, so by avoiding your property their buyer might end up buying nothing and then the Realtor loses out on getting paid any commission. There is always the chance that some Realtor may “blackball” a listing and not show it because it is a limited service agreement, a low commission amount offered to the buyer's agent, or any number of reasons. Typically Realtors who bring up these sort of scare tactics are just doing so because they are unsure of how else to justify their own services. The U.S. Department of Justice has already stated that anti-competitive practices like blackballing violate federal antitrust laws. In the future, flat fee MLS listings like so many internet-based services will more than likely be the norm rather than the exception.
16. Will you help me with proper pricing and marketing of my property? Is there any other marketing I should be doing to sell or rent my house? 90% of what is going to sell your house is a For Sale sign and directional signs, a listing in the MLS, and a listing on the heavily trafficked internet sites. The other 10% may bring you a lead in if you are lucky enough. We encourage you to market the property any way that you can think of, and we will be happy to give you a free price analysis and a free marketing consultation at the time you list your property with us. Broker, Rob Arnold, has written a detailed article about How to Sell in a Buyer's Market. We suggest that all prospective sellers read this article before listing their property for sale.
An interesting thing that many consumers are not aware of is that the reason why most Realtors advertise with newspaper and magazine ads, radio and television ads, open houses, postcards, newsletters, social media sites, and more is generally not to sell your particular house. Certainly that would be a great thing, but the reason they do this is to bring them more listings and customers. If they get a buyer lead, they can use the MLS to sell that buyer any house that the buyer likes (not just yours) and still earn a commission.
17. Can you advertise an open house for my listing.? Yes. We can advertise your open house in the MLS which feeds your open house onto all the various internet sites as well. Please give us at least 1 business day advance notice so that we have plenty of time to get your open house ad into the system.
18. Will you help me with the paperwork involved with selling or renting my property? With a Basic or Deluxe Listing Plan, we will provide you with seller's disclosures, blank contract forms, and blank Supreme Court approved lease forms. You can use our menu-based services to assist you with writing up the paperwork or negotiating the terms of the contract or lease. Generally the buyer’s Realtor will write up the initial offer and present it directly to you, so you will not have to try and track down contract paperwork on your own.
19. If I sell or rent my property but need help getting it closed, can you help me? Yes. We can normally help you with any aspect of managing the transaction. We can help you write up the contract or lease; deal with lenders and insurance companies; work with inspectors, appraisers, and contractors; order title work and home warranties; etc. In some outlying communities, we can still help out but it will be at a distance without us visiting the property. (Call us for details regarding your location.) Our licenses permit us to assist sellers and buyers with properties located anywhere in the State of Florida. On properties for lease, you are free to use the rental application located at Mr Landlord.com . They can help you with screening out possible tenant candidates.
20. What if I do a flat fee MLS listing and then realize I am not comfortable with things? What are my options at that point? You basically have 2 choices. (1) You can upgrade your listing to a full-service listing agreement and we can draw up a customized marketing plan to help you sell your property. Any fees previously paid to us will be deducted out of the commissions charged to you at closing. OR (2) You can cancel your listing at no additional charge and no further obligation to us and do whatever else you need to do with your property. The listing fee that was previously paid to us, is of course non-refundable.
SPECIAL DISCOUNT FOR INVESTORS & MEMBERS OF U.S. ARMED FORCES
21. Do you have any special discounts for multiple properties, repeat customers, or investors? If you have more than 1 property for us to list or if you have used our services for another property within the last 12 months, we will give you a $74 discount off of our Basic Listing price for the second and any subsequent listings. If you are an investor and are a member of Central Florida Realty Investors (CFRI) or have been signed up for our email hot property list for at least 6 months, you are also eligible for the $74 discount off of the Basic Listing price. If you are a member of another investment association, please notify us and we will consider adding them to our volume discount promotion. (Discounts or special deals cannot be combined with any other discounts or special deals that we offer. Discounts are not available on For Rent listings.)
22. Do you offer any special discounts to members of the United States armed services? Yes, we do. If you or any of the property owners is an active member of the United States military or national guard, we offer a special discount of $74 off of our Basic Listing price. Or we offer 5% off for any of our menu-based prices. (Discounts or special deals cannot be combined with any other discounts or special deals that we offer. Discounts are not available on For Rent listings.) You must mention this special offer at the time of listing in order to receive your discount. We greatly appreciate your service to our country. Thank you for protecting us and keeping our nation free.
23. I see other firms that offer similar services for cheaper than you do. Why should I pay you more? What makes Sand Dollar Realty Group different from these other firms? Many things.
We have written an article on what things to look for in hiring a flat fee MLS broker. Below are many things to look for when choosing your broker.
(1) First our firm is locally owned and operated in Altamonte Springs, Florida (20 minutes north of Orlando). You are not dealing with some out-of-state far away company that you can only access by internet or 1800 number. You can schedule an appointment to come into our office or depending on location you can have us come to your home. We would be glad to meet with you in person or talk with you over the telephone and help you analyze your property, your asking price, and develop a marketing plan.
(2) If your property is not located in Central Florida, we can still help you properly price and market your property. It will be at a distance of course, but we have lived in Florida for 30+ years and we know the various regions of the state quite well.
(3) We have been in business since 1996 and are the largest and most experienced flat fee MLS brokerage in Central Florida. We know what we are doing and will not leave you hanging out there all alone. Many companies that offer flat fee services have not been in business very long and are greatly lacking in experience. And experience counts in a competitive market.
(4) Our firm is "Accredited" by the Better Business Bureau of Central Florida with an A+ rating. Not an easy task to do especially when you are involved with hundreds of transactions every year. Click here for information about our accreditation.
(5) Many of the super cheapo priced firms provide poor customer service and don't return phone calls or emails promptly. Some firms simply want to list your home online in order to keep the buyer leads for themselves. You will find that we are different. We will email or call you with all buyer leads. If we are not right there to answer the office phone, we will return your call within a reasonably short period of time. In fact broker Rob Arnold's cell phone number is 407-375-4567, if you ever need to speak with him at anytime day or night. A little bit of extra money is a small price to pay to deal with experienced professionals.
(6) We have dozens of full-time sales associates that will often expend their own money and resources to advertise your property themselves to find a buyer and earn the buyer-side commission. Many of the flat fee firms you find online do not have experienced sales associates out there selling real estate every day.
(7) We allow you to upgrade your listing. We can provide you additional services all the way up to a full-service listing for a reasonable additional fee.
(8) We have many great affiliations with local experts, including an affiliation with a local title company, and contacts with many real estate vendors (inspectors, insurance, lenders, contractors) to help make your transition from listing to closing that much easier.
We also offer a full-service listing service similar to those offered by most other real estate brokerages. But unlike those other brokerages our agents have the flexibility to negotiate commission rates to help save you money.
Also we can offer a menu-based pricing system (a la carte services), allowing you to only pay for those services that you actually need us to perform. Including lockbox rental, online virtual/video tours, contract preparation and review, offer negotiation, closing coordination and attendance, etc. Click here for more information about our full-service listings. Or click for more information about menu-based services that we offer.
At the discretion of the managing broker, we reserve the right to refuse any listing or extension. This is particularly the case when a seller wishes to alter the listing agreement, offers little to no commission to buyers agents, offers unreasonable marketing or financing terms, or acts in an unreasonable or unprofessional manner. We try to provide the best of customer service and do appreciate your business.
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