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 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, 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, or even adding a Seller’s Disclosure form to your listing.

In addition to the up-front fee, how much more will I pay at closing?

Unlike some flat fee brokers, our listing package will only charge a 1% fee at closing.

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 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 upfront.

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. If you ordered a Platinum listing package and you’re canceling before the listing expires, you will have to pay a cancellation fee equal only to our actual expenses.

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 a Full-Service Listing.

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 Realtors, HAR.com is Texas’s premier MLS listing website with over 850 million page views in 2019. You’ll also appear on Homes.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 is your listing different from the others?

We offer a full-service listing, which 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 feature.  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.

Do I owe you any additional fees at closing?

Nope! 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 12 months?

If you’re priced and positioned properly this isn’t usually an issue, however, the markets do sometimes change while a property is listed.

With our 1% listing package, we start you with a 12 month listing and we’ll renew you for free every 6 months until you sell.

If you’re overpriced, as determined by a market analysis, we charge a $75 renewal fee. We do this to deter “perpetual” listings for properties that will likely never sell at their current list price.

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

We do charge a nominal cancellation fee for our Platinum listing package that is only equal to our actual expenses. “Full Rate” listing agents often don’t charge a cancellation fee in exchange for a 6% listing and we’d be happy to do the same except we think the small cancellation fee far outweighs the extra 2% you’d pay at closing.

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.

Included in our 1% Listing package, we send a professional photographer out to take photos of your property; one trip is included within the Houston area.

You’re always free to hire your own photographer, however, you must make sure you will own the photos and all rights in their entirety after you purchase their photo package or we won’t be able to accept them.

Can I hire my own photographer to take photos?

Absolutely, however, you need to make sure both you and Creekstone Real Estate both have perpetual use rights for the photos used in your listing as once your listing closes the photos become a permanent part of MLS, our social media platforms, and our website.

Do you offer flat fee listings for rentals?

We focus primarily on offering flat fee listing service for properties for sale in Houston and our processes are best geared for sales, however, if you wish to list a rental, please call or email our office for flat-fee options.

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

Nope. It’s all included.

Can I just call you to place an order?

Yes, we’re happy to take listing orders over the phone for our flat fee MLS listing packages by request. 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. If you complete and return all your listing paperwork along with listing photos to us before 12pm Monday-Friday, we can have your listing active in MLS on the same day. We do not list properties on weekends or holidays.

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 Seller’s 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 and price.  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, or Zillow’s AVM (Automated Valuation Model).  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 typically capped based on recent sales and market demand, so you’ll very likely wind up with problems before closing 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 market 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 at strategic intervals until the showing activity/market response picks up to a sufficient level.  Being over-priced is pricing your property above that range – even an accepted contract at that price will likely 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 or show up at closing.  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), and 3) making your listing easily accessible for showing agents to show their clients.

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

They’re going to list your house in exact same MLS (HAR.com) as every other Realtor®.

Once in MLS, buyers/friends of buyers/buyer family members make up the bulk of sales by locating your property using the internet (57% of all sales) and real estate agents/buyer agents make up another large chunk of sales sources (33% of all sales). The remainder of sales come from newspaper ads (1%), direct relationship with you (2%), open houses (~2% NAR no longer puts open houses in a separate category), yard signs (~5%). Source: NAR Statistics.
Any “additional” marketing they perform will be geared at generating new business leads. Open houses are excellent buyer lead generators, “Just Listed” postcard mailouts are perfect at generating seller leads.

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 Self-hosted Open House in MLS for free with our 1% listing package.  Open Houses are great ways for Realtors® to generate buyer leads but they have about a 2% success rate for selling the subject property. Self-hosted Open Houses are limited to one per week with a week beginning on Monday and ending on Sunday. We do not advertise or host Broker Open Houses.

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

Postcards are another 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 list 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’d be asking you if you want to respond anyway.

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 at or above this price 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 buyer rebates on new construction properties?

Yes!

We offer rebates on all types of residential properties (even raw land). Call our office or email listings@creekstonere.com for more details.

Do you offer buyer rebates on pre-owned properties?

Yes!

We offer rebates on all types of residential properties (even raw land). Call our office or email listings@creekstonere.com for more details.

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

You can email listings@creekstonere.com or fill out the contact request 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 don’t think you’re getting enough traffic, call or email and we’ll take a look at your listing to see if anything can be improved on – don’t be surprised if we say the list price is out of line as that’s true for most stale listings. We don’t simply focus on price though, we’ll also 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 to 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 scheduling 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.