Answers to some of the most common questions about Houston Flat Fee MLS Listings.

Do I have to pay any extra listing fees?

You’ll need to offer a commission to Buyer’s Agents as a condition of listing in MLS, but as far as listing fees, the flat rate upfront listing fee for properties located in Houston or the 1% no upfront listing fee you pay at closing is all you’ll pay to Creekstone Real Estate. We don’t charge extra for listing changes, photos, photo descriptions, or any of the other fees many flat rate listing brokers charge.

Are there any hidden fees?

No, there are no hidden fees to list your property. The price you pay to list your property is the only price you pay to list. We don’t charge for things like listing changes, additional photos, advertising an open house, photo descriptions, or even adding a Seller’s Disclosure form to your listing.

Do I still have to pay a commission if I sell it myself?

No. If you sell by owner directly to an unrepresented buyer you pay no additional commission, only the upfront flat rate listing fee or the 1% paid at closing listing fee. Many other traditional brokerages will charge you the full commission even if you sell to an unrepresented buyer Creekstone Real Estate does not.

Are you a marketing company or a real estate brokerage?

Most flat fee MLS listing websites on the internet are marketing fronts.  They generate sales, take a large amount of the fee, and then outsource the listing to a broker in your state that pays for the leads.  You don’t get to talk to the broker first because they would cut the marketing site out of the picture.

These marketing sites are typically selling (very) limited service MLS listings and the broker that receives the order will try to up-sell you on everything from phone support, negotiation assistance, and contract prep.  They’ll also often charge extra for more than the minimum number of photos on a listing and for changes past a certain minimum.

By the time you’re done adding in all the extras they’re selling you’ll wind up paying more than our listings that include everything up front.

You’ll list directly with us and we’re only a phone call away.

Can I cancel my listing at any time?

Yes, you may cancel your listing at any time without penalty, provided it is not under contract to sell.

Is this a FSBO listing?

No, your listing will appear in MLS just like every other listing. It will also appear on HAR.com, Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, Movoto, and numerous other sites that take syndicated listings from MLS.

Is this a Limited Service or a Full Service Listing?

Unlike our competitors we only offer Full Service Listings.

What is a Limited Service Listing?

A Limited Service Listing is exactly that – limited service.  Typically the listing just gets you listed in MLS and the broker agrees to act as a go-between when receiving and presenting offers.  You’re left to handle everything else – paperwork, coordination with title/lenders/buyers/inspectors/appraisers, negotiations, counter-offers, repair negotiations,

Will my property appear on HAR.com?

Yes, your property will appear on HAR.com (Homes and Realtors) formerly known as the Houston Association of Realtor’s. HAR.com is Texas’s premier MLS listing website with over 850 million page views in 2019. You’ll also appear onHomes.com, Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, Movoto and numerous other sites that take syndicated listings from MLS including all the big name brokerages so you can take advantage of their traffic as well.

How do potential buyers/tenants contact me?

Your phone number will appear in the MLS agent remarks so represented buyers will have your contact information. Unrepresented buyers can call the number on the yard sign and we will collect their contact information and forward it to you. Leads that come in as a result of your property will be forwarded to you as long as your property is Active in MLS.

How is your $495/$795 listing different from the others?

We offer a full service listing for this price, that means you’ll have support from a licensed agent from listing to closing.  Most other flat fee brokerages offer a limited service listing and then try to up-sell you for every additional additional features.  Read their paperwork closely – if it doesn’t specifically state that they will help you negotiate offers or provide forms assistance, chances are that’s an extra fee.

What forms will I need to fill out?

MLS Input Sheet
Showing Instruction Form
Completed Listing Agreement
Seller’s Disclosure
Any additional disclosures dependent on your property age/location/type.
Minimum required number of photos for your listing.

Do I owe you any additional fees at closing?

If you paid an up-front flat fee and you sold to a buyer with an agent, the only additional commission you will owe is to the Buyer’s Agent.  If you used our 1% no up-front fee, you’ll owe the 1% commission to Creekstone Real Estate in addition to any Buyer’s Agent commission.

Are you based in Texas?

Yes, unlike most flat fee MLS listing websites, Creekstone Real Estate is local to Texas and only services the Texas market. Your MLS listing will be handled directly by Creekstone Real Estate not by a broker that has paid to receive leads from a nationwide lead generation company.

What happens if my listing doesn’t sell in 6 months?

For residential properties (houses, townhouses, condos, and other single family homes)If your property is priced appropriately and the market velocity is sufficient this usually doesn’t come up, however…As long as your list price is no more than 2% over recent comparable sales in your neighborhood (determined by an agent in our office) we’ll renew your listing for another 6 months for free until your property sells.

For unimproved lots/acreage, and properties that are priced at more than 2% over recent comparable sales in your neighborhood (determined by an agent in our office) we charge a $75 renewal fee for a 6 month extension.

Raw land can sometimes take a significant amount of time to find a suitable buyer and occasionally a seller of a residential property wants to list over market and wait for the market to catch up to their desired price – in those cases we simply charge a nominal fee to maintain the listing.

If you think you may have a tough to sell property, call our office to talk before you list, we can work out a listing package that meets your needs.

Do I have to pay to cancel my flat fee MLS listing?

For our Silver and Gold flat fee listings, there is no associated cost to cancel.

For the Platinum listing package if you cancel or terminate before termination date, seller agrees to reimburse Creekstone Real Estate $250 for marketing expenses (which typically includes signs, lockboxes, social media marketing, video tours, and 24 hour scheduling service).

Will you come take pictures for my listing?

We realized early on that we’re great Realtors®, not great photographers. Professional listing photos can generate a LOT more traffic whereas bad listing photos can have a negative impact on listing traffic. You only get one chance to make a great first impression and photos are usually the first time a buyer will see your house.

We always recommend using a pro photographer for listing photos and we offer that option on our order form for an additional fee.

Do you offer flat fee listings for rentals?

We focus primarily on offering flat fee listing services for properties for sale in Houston and our processes are best geared for sales.

We do not offer a flat fee rental listing service in Houston, however, by request we will list a property for rent based on a negotiated commission separate from any flat fee listing, call us for details.

Do I have to pay extra for contracts, addendums, yard sign, lockbox, or flyers?

It’s all included in the upfront flat fee to list in MLS. If you elected to go with the no upfront fee option, we only charge a small fee for shipping of the sign and lockbox.

Can I just call you to place an order?

Yes, we’ll take listing orders over the phone for any of our flat fee MLS listing packages. You’ll still need to complete the required forms and provide the minimum required photos for your listing.

Do you offer same day MLS listings?

Yes, depending on our current workload and when you submit your listing order, we can get your listing into MLS the same day.  In order to complete your listing you must still complete the minimum required paperwork and supply the minimum required number of photos – incomplete paperwork is the primary delay in getting a listing active in MLS.If you need a guaranteed same day MLS listing, we charge a non-refundable $100 rush fee, but you’re still required to supply completed paperwork and photos before the listing will be entered in MLS.

Will you list a property for which I have equitable interest?

We do not currently market what is commonly referred to as a “wholesale” property. We’ll be happy to list your property after you close and provide proof of ownership.

What is equitable interest and how does it relate to the sale of a property?

Many wholesalers secure equitable interest in a property through a signed purchase agreement with the current owner. They then market their equitable interest, in this case a signed purchase agreement, at a set price to buyers. The new buyer typically agrees to purchase the equitable interest (purchase agreement) from the wholesaler for an agreed on assignment fee and then close on the property according to the terms in the original purchase agreement. TREC adopted an equitable interest rule in 2017 that attempts to address this type of activity. The Texas Association of Realtors explains a bit more about the new equitable interest rule. Regardless of the new TREC rule, Creekstone Real Estate does not market equitable interest as a flat fee service.

Will you take a Net Listing?

We do not currently take Net Listings from Investors or Owners.

What is a Net Listing?

In a Net Listing, the Seller (property owner) agrees to accept a fixed price and the Listing Brokerage agrees that their commission would be the difference between the fixed price and the sale price. For example, Sally Seller agrees to accept $100,000 for the sale of her property. Bobby Broker markets the property at $125,000 and receives a full price offer. The net commission in this case would be $25,000. We believe this places the Broker’s interest above the Sellers interests which is a breach of a Broker’s fiduciary duty to their client. TREC Net Listing Information.

My house isn’t getting any showings – your marketing must not be working.

With over 850 million page views on HAR.com in 2019, we’re sure the MLS marketing engine is working as efficiently as possible.No showings is simply the market responding to your property.  This means it is either over-priced or under-improved (which is a nice way of saying you’re priced too high for the property’s condition or location).

Realtors® price properties according to recent sales, not recent list prices.  A list price is an asking price, a sold price is what someone actually paid for a similar property.  Unfortunately many people over-improve their property beyond what the market will support for a sale price in a neighborhood.  Even if you were to get a contract at a higher than market price, appraisals are capped based on recent sales and market demand, so you’ll wind up with problems later in the contract period where you’re forced to decide between taking the lower appraisal value or letting the buyer terminate their contract.

I want to leave some ‘wiggle room’ in my price – is that ok?

Sure, you can leave wiggle room in your price, but if you’re priced above the current pricing band for your area the only showings you’re likely to get are from curious Realtors®, or Realtors® that want to use your home to illustrate a point to a buyer (yes, it does happen and they’ll even tell you you’re priced correctly if you ask – you’ll also get a call from that same agent when your listing expires).

The best pricing strategy is to price your property correctly from the start, with no wiggle room, and then negotiate offers as they come in.  There is a very definite expense to over-pricing your property.

What’s the difference between priced on the high side and over-priced?

Pricing on the high side amounts to pricing your property at the high end of a range based on recent comparable sales and then reducing your price every 2-3 weeks until the showing activity picks up to a sufficient level.  Being over-priced is pricing your property above that range – even an accepted contract at that price will get shot down during the appraisal process.

How does your Flat Fee Full Service Listing compare to a 6% Full Service Listing?

The big differences are that we won’t visit your property, show up at closing, or take photos for your listing.  Many Realtors® will try to tell you that they have a better or more comprehensive marketing plan – the truth is buyers are now driving the buying process unlike 20 years ago when a full page ad in the local newspaper and placement in a weekend tv show about new listings would get you significantly increased coverage.

The secret sauce for a successful MLS listing is 1) pricing your property appropriately for its location, condition, and the current market, and 2) presenting it in the best light possible – this means professional photos, completing repairs, cleaning, and basic staging (we can give you pointers).

I spoke with a 6% Realtor® and they said their marketing plan was better, is that true?

They’re going to put your house in MLS (HAR.com) just like every other Realtor®.

The truth is HAR.com (Homes and Rentals) had over 850 million page views in 2019 and it is the single most targeted platform for selling your Texas property.  Visitors to the HAR.com website are there are looking for one thing – to purchase a property.  That 850 million page views doesn’t even take into account the additional views by qualified buyers through curated email searches set up for specific areas by Realtors®.Buyers are now driving the buying process more than ever with the unprecedented amount of information available on the internet.

It’s simply not like it was 20 years ago when selling a house took a full page ad in the local newspaper and placement in a weekend TV show or a massive marketing push by a large brokerage.  When your listing hits MLS, buyers looking for your type of property get notified immediately.

Ok, but what about hosting an open house?

We will advertise your open house in MLS for free with all of our listings.

That same 6% Realtor® said they would mail out postcards, will you do that?

Postcards are a great way for a Realtor® to generate new buyer and seller leads, not to sell the house.

If you put a for sale sign in your yard, it is a virtual guarantee that your neighbors will be on their computers looking up your sale price and analyzing your interior photos so fast that they’ll beat a postcard to their own mailbox.

I received a (very) lowball offer, what should I do?

Most lowball offers are made by real estate “investors” who are sending out large amounts of offers on listed properties.  Their offers are usually just a starting point to get you into a negotiation, you can almost always expect the final sale price to be even lower than their initial offer as they will try to work you down further.  The best way to respond to these types of offers is to simply reject them.

Do I have to respond to every offer?

No and not responding to an offer can be considered a response.  We ask that you let us know you won’t be responding to an offer as occasionally a buyer’s agent will circle back to find out if the seller plans on responding – at which time we’ll be asking you if you want to respond.

How do I know when I’ve negotiated a good deal?

At best, this is a difficult question to answer.We recommend deciding on your minimum bottom line before you list your property and when you receive an offer that comes in over this that you seriously consider accepting it.  We’re also always happy to relay your counter if you want to try to negotiate the price up further, but in our experience the first offer on a property that’s priced correctly is usually the best offer.

I received an offer Friday/Saturday and the Buyer’s agent keeps calling and pressuring me to accept before Monday.

First, lenders and title companies aren’t open on the weekends and we recommend calling the lender to review the buyer’s pre-approval letter and ask a few other questions.

Second, you have a full service listing with Creekstone Real Estate, this means we represent you.  So if the Buyer’s Agent is calling you directly to negotiate let them know they’re violating NAR Code of Ethics 16-13 AND Texas Occupations Code 1101.652(b)22.  Then let us know who they are and we’ll give them and their broker a friendly reminder call.

We strongly advise against rushing into accepting an offer without first completely reviewing the offer and part of that includes talking to the lender and doing a little research on the buyer’s chosen title company.

Do you offer 2.5% buyer rebates on new construction properties?

Yes!

We offer up to 2.5% buyer rebates on all new construction properties.  Call our office for details.

Do you offer 2% buyer rebates on pre-owned properties?

Yes!

We offer up to 2% buyer rebates on pre-owned properties.  Call our office for details.

Where can I find out more about your Buyer Rebate program?

You can email buyers@creekstonere.com or fill out the form at the bottom of this page and request more information. You can also call our office if you have specific questions.

What’s the difference between a Seller’s Agent and a Selling Agent?

Perspective.  As you are the seller, Creekstone Real Estate would be the Seller’s Agent/Brokerage.  If Creekstone Real Estate also brought the buyer to the transaction then we would also be the Selling Agent.  Since Creekstone Real Estate does not offer intermediary services (representation of the buyer and the seller in the same transaction), the Selling Agent will always be the Buyer’s Agent.

When is the best time to list my house for sale?

Right now.Everyone seems to believe that spring and summer are the best times to sell, however, with more buyers come more sellers (competition).  The truth is when you’re ready to sell, that’s the best time to sell.Fall/winter buyers are typically more seasoned and more serious buyers and they have to deal with less market availability so they’re ok with taking what’s available.  Spring and Summer buyers are often newer/less experienced buyers and can sometimes become fickle because of the tremendous amount of listings coming on the market during that time.  Both selling seasons have their advantages and disadvantages.

What is a showing scheduling service? What is CSS? What is Showingtime?

A showing scheduling service is a company that handles scheduling/coordinating showings between Realtors® and sellers.  This is a key item for a successful listing – if a Buyer’s Agent has to spend more than a few seconds trying to schedule a showing for their client it’s very like that the agent will move on to properties with easier access and your property will be thrown to the bottom of the list.  Showingtime will reach out to you by text, email, phone call, and through their mobile app to get a showing confirmation and then they’ll let the Buyer’s agent know once it’s approved.

My flat fee MLS listing isn’t getting the traffic I expected, can you help?

If you have the Gold or Platinum package, we’ll help you at no cost with a listing tune-up. During a listing tune-up we’ll review many different items related to your listing such as photos, description, market pricing, list price/sale price ratio, average days on market for your neighborhood in Houston, sales velocity in your area, previous agent feedback, curb appeal, staging suggestions, local market competition, and any other factors that may be specific to your listing.

Do I need a yard sign?

Do you need one? No. Do they help? Absolutely!

According to the National Association of Realtors®, 7% of sales come from neighbors and friends and another 7% of sales come from yard signs. Why would you hide the fact that you’re selling your house from 14% of the market? It’s true that buyers don’t necessarily patrol neighborhoods looking for listings when they can easily search all of Houston homes for sale on the internet, but they definitely drive around neighborhoods they’re interested in to get a feel for the amenities, traffic patterns, street parking habits, and occasionally to see if there are any For Sale By Owner properties they might have overlooked. A sign isn’t mandatory, but it certainly helps.

What is a showing scheduling service?

A showing scheduling service is a call center staffed with customer service representatives dedicated to coordinating and scheduling showings for MLS listings. A streamlined process for scheduling showings is one of the most important items to a successful listing yet it’s an expense many discount Realtors® skip because they’re trying save a few dollars.

Creekstone Real Estate uses ShowingTime for all our showing scheduling and we believe it’s indispensable for a listing. ShowingTime even provides mobile apps for iOS and Android mobile platforms.

Do I need a showing service?

Yes! The ability for a Realtor® to quickly and easily schedule a showing will give you a HUGE advantage over your competition. The more difficult it is to access your listing the less likely it will be shown. Once a Realtor® leaves the neighborhood with their buyers, the chance they’ll make a special trip back for one property is very slim.