After doing our feature review of 29 listing packages, we believe you should be checking these five key items before ordering any listing package – even if it results in you deciding against flat fee listing.
1. Demand a copy of the listing agreement before you order a listing package. Don’t get talked out of this one – most brokers will be happy to provide a copy. You’ll likely run into trouble getting this from a national service as they won’t want to provide Broker contact information.
2. Don’t assume. If a feature isn’t on the list, it’s not on the list. Clever or suggestive wording can change or mask the true meaning of a listing package description. “Up to 25 photos” might be at the top of the feature list and then buried in the fine print “6 photos included – upgrade to 25 photos available for an additional fee”. This is a pretty tame one, but we spotted some fairly big gotchas out there.
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3. Don’t get caught paying extra junk fees. Many flat fee companies will charge you a low up-front fee to lure you in and then rack up extra hidden fees like fees that are due at closing: marketing fees, record retention fees, transaction coordinator fees, document handling fees, document storage fees, assistance fees, and more. These are junk fees designed to slip extra income into a listing agreement.
4. Confirm Communication. Call or email the broker before you order to make sure they’re responsive and that they answer their phone or email. Ask them to email you something (like a listing agreement) and then see if they follow through. It’s a small test but if they can’t keep a promise to a prospective client they don’t usually get better once you’re a paid sale.
5. Read. Read every single line item in a listing package description and make sure it means what you think it means and that it isn’t vaguely worded. If there are hidden items in the marketing material it’s a good bet the listing agreement won’t be any better.
All of these items are largely the same advice we’d recommend you apply to a traditional 6% Realtor or brokerage. We really want to impress on you the need to go into a listing agreement with your eyes wide open and empowered to make an educated decision.