Disclaimer: This post is meant to be used for educational purposes. Links and mentions of North Carolina flat fee MLS companies in this post do not constitute an endorsement. Individual program details can change — please visit a provider’s website for the most current information on rate packages, fees, service areas, and more. HomeLight always recommends doing your own research to determine which selling option is best for your situation.
With only about a one-month supply of houses, the ongoing housing shortage in much of North Carolina has prevented prices from falling too far, even after interest rates increased. While the market is slowly cooling – or normalizing – home prices remain steady in many North Carolina cities and median days on market are relatively low, although today that can mean a week or two versus a day or two earlier this year.
As North Carolina’s market balances itself, with the days of over-ask offers fading, some sellers may be tempted to sell their home without a real estate agent with the hope of reaping a bigger financial reward.
Selling a home by owner may result in some cost savings due to not having to pay commission to a real estate agent, but it definitely comes with more responsibility for the seller and some risks. Real estate agents market their listings on the multiple listing service (MLS) as part of their marketing strategy – something FSBO (for sale by owner) sellers cannot do on their own.
Kim Pappalardo, who works with 70% more single-family homes than the average Raleigh, North Carolina, agent, weighs in about the pros and cons of using a flat fee MLS listing service.
What is a flat fee MLS listing service?
The MLS is a private database created and maintained by real estate professionals (agents and brokers) to help their clients buy and sell property. The “listing” refers to “a home for sale” in industry terms.
North Carolina has multiple MLS throughout the state, each with its own rules and regulations, Pappalardo reports. While inspectors and appraisers can also access the MLS, only licensed real estate agents and Realtors® can post on the MLS. Thus, FSBO sellers face the fact that their listing won’t be seen by as many people … unless they find an alternative.
FSBO sellers tend to think outside the box, Pappalardo says. One alternative they often use to get their property seen by a broad audience is a flat fee MLS listing service that allows FSBO sellers to get their home listed on the MLS.
In a simple transaction, an MLS brokerage will add your home to the MLS for an agreed-upon fee. This allows FSBO sellers to benefit from being on the local MLS database – which also feeds most major home search websites – without paying a listing agent’s fee.
What North Carolina sellers might benefit from a flat fee MLS service?
If you’re selling a home in North Carolina, you may be wondering, “Is a flat fee MLS listing service the right choice for me?” The answer is: it depends. Here are some indications a flat fee MLS service might be right for you:
- You’re determined to save on real estate commission
- You have the time and energy to spend on the home sale process
- You’re comfortable or even passionate about selling a house on your own
- You have real estate experience or understand the home sale process well
- You feel that no one else can understand all the features of your unique home
Here are the type of sellers who typically aren’t a good fit for a flat fee listing service or FSBO selling:
- Sellers who aren’t willing to put significant time and energy into the sale
- Sellers who are strapped for time and need a prompt sale
- Sellers who aren’t familiar with selling homes or property
- Sellers who haven’t considered all of the costs that go into selling a home alone
- Sellers who don’t understand the laws, documents, and responsibilities surrounding North Carolina home sales
It’s important to understand that sellers using a flat fee company must be willing to take on a variety of tasks normally handled by a real estate agent, such as:
- Determining the right selling price for your home
- Writing an enticing listing description
- Taking photos of your property, inside and out
- Marketing your home
- Coordinating showings and open houses
- Handling negotiations and counteroffers
- Understanding the terms of your contract
- Navigating any issues that may come up with the appraisal or inspection
- Getting the required documentation together
- Providing appropriate disclosures
North Carolina disclosures include the federal lead-based paint disclosure for homes built before 1978 and a property disclosure that lists mineral, oil, and gas rights; planned road development, noise considerations, and environmental issues including radon gas.
Pappalardo points out that a real estate agent will alert a seller to excise tax charged by North Carolina, pro-rated property tax, and the fact that an attorney must oversee closing.
Pros and cons of using a flat fee MLS listing service
It’s always a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of a decision. Some of those for a flat fee MLS listing service include:
- No large real estate commission (typically 5%-6%)
- Control of all aspects of the sale from start to finish
- Known costs are paid upfront for selling the property
- Get your home listed on the MLS and third-party websites
- Flat fee + possible commission to buyer’s agent (2.5%-3%)
- Responsibility for addressing any issues that arise to protect the sale
- Mostly a self-service process that involves lots of time and energy
- No buffer between seller and buyer
- You may be exposing yourself to liability claims and other legal risks
- FSBO homes typically sell for less
Pappalardo says, “FSBO sellers are looking to net more money, but statistics show that most are netting less.” We’ll show you a breakdown of how much less later in this post.
Even as a FSBO seller, most likely, you’ll still be responsible for the buyer’s agent commission, which typically will cost 2%-3% of the home’s sale price, along with the usual closing costs and “FSBO fees” that an agent typically covers.
How do I list my home with a flat fee MLS service in North Carolina?
If you have decided to list your home with a flat fee listing service, the next steps might look something like this:
Step 1: Research a few companies, comparing rates and service packages.
Step 2: Contact the service through their website or phone and provide information about your property. Many flat fee companies offer an online process to get started.
Step 3: The flat fee company will make your listing live on the MLS, which means it will be visible to buyer agents but also placed on other real estate websites such as Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com.
Step 4: Take calls and schedule showings.
Step 5: Field offers from the buyer agents or prospective buyers and negotiate a deal.
When you first place your home with a flat fee MLS service, it can take a couple of days or longer to populate. It’s a good idea to review how your listing is displaying on real estate sites to be certain it’s correct and complete.
Are flat fee MLS listings effective in North Carolina?
The reason it’s so important to have your home on the MLS is that nearly 90% of home shoppers purchase a house using a buyer’s agent, according to the NAR. While it may not be the most profitable or smoothest path to a sale, a flat fee MLS provider is a crucial and effective service for anyone who decides to sell FSBO.
How much does a flat fee MLS service cost in North Carolina?
If you choose a flat fee MLS service, you’ll pay a brokerage a set fee for them to list your property on the MLS. This will save you the fee charged by a seller agent, but it means you’ll be responsible for most of the support they provide.
Flat fee MLS services in North Carolina can range from $69 to $500. Be on the lookout for hidden fees not listed.
North Carolina home sellers have options when it comes to flat fee MLS services. Choose from local, regional, and national companies, or make your decision based on the level of assistance you require.
Let’s take a look at some examples of flat fee MLS listing companies in North Carolina:
North Carolina flat fee MLS listing companies
Flat fee MLS companies are not created equal. There are different levels of service to consider. As you consider your options, you should weigh the different services and fees against the possible benefits and drawbacks.
Carolina Listing Express
Service areas: Major metropolitan areas in North Carolina and parts of South Carolina
About: Carolina Listing Express – soon to be renamed Express MLS Listing – is part of Select Premium Properties, Inc., a local North Carolina real estate company owned and operated by Stephanie Smith, the principal broker. The company has been in business for more than 20 years. The entire listing process is performed on their website. Free support is available by phone or email.
Rate package overview:
The basic package costs $195 for six months. It includes six photos. Extra photos, lock boxes, and marketing materials, such as signage, are an additional cost. Contract reviews are also an option at an additional cost.
Additional service notes:
- Provides MLS listing for six months
- Forwards all leads
- Supplies free forms and contract templates
- Offers free customer support via phone or email
- Offers rental listings
Reviews and rating summary: The parent company for Carolina Listing Express, Carolina (Select) Premium Properties, Inc., holds a 5-star and A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau but is not listed as BBB accredited. Reviewers were pleased with the company’s rates and online process, and how staff responded quickly and completely to all requests.
Flat Fee Multiple Listing Access (FFMLA)
Service areas: North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia
About: Founded in 1991 by North Carolina real estate agent Steve Toop, FFMLA (United Brokers LTD) offers a variety of packages from the basic MLS listing to full-service packages. All forms and brochures are provided on the website, making it easy to gather all necessary information and sign up.
Reviews and rating summary: Google customer reviews give FFMLA’s parent company, United Brokers LTD, 4.9 out of 5 stars. Reviewers praised the company’s prompt and accurate service, professionalism, and seamless process.
Rate package overview:
Basic bundle – $125: Includes a listing period of three months and six MLS photos. Includes phone and email support. Cancel any time without penalty.
Standard bundle – $195: Includes a listing period of six months and 16 MLS photos. Includes phone and email support, as well as scheduling and showing feedback. Cancel any time without penalty.
Enhanced bundle – $295: Includes a listing period of 12 months and up to 35 MLS photos and a virtual tour on MLS. Includes phone and email support, as well as scheduling and showing feedback. No charge for initial editing or price change. Sample purchase forms and contracts, and transaction management tools. Cancel any time without penalty.
Full service bundle – $875: Includes a listing period of 12 months and the maximum number of photos allowed by the MLS. Also includes all the features of the Enhanced bundle plus negotiations, contracts, and closing bundle.
Additional service notes:
- Discounts for package add-ons and renewals
- A-la-carte pricing for signs, photo swaps and resizing, additional MLS listings
- Provides showings for additional fee
Carolina Realty Solutions
Phone: 704-343-0931 (Charlotte)
Service areas: Some areas in North Carolina and South Carolina
About: Founded in 2003, this Charlotte-based brokerage is a popular option for hard-to-sell homes. It offers three packages. The website walks sellers through the steps to get their home listed, based on which state they live in. The company doesn’t cover all areas of the Carolinas, so double check their coverage.
Reviews and rating summary: 3.5 out of 5 stars on Yelp (3 reviews). Reviewers appreciate the budget prices and personalized service. Carolina Realty Solutions has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 2006 and holds an A+ BBB rating.
Rate package overview:
Flat fee MLS – $399: Includes a listing period of six months and the maximum number of MLS photos, a lock box, and yard sign, as well as access to ShowingTime software for appointment scheduling with MLS-registered licensed agents.
Full Service 1 – $549 + 1% at closing. Includes everything in the MLS package plus a comparative market analysis and assistance with paperwork, offers, and negotiations, as well as transaction guidance from contract to close.
Full Service 2 – Nothing upfront; 2% at closing. Includes everything in Full Service 1.
Additional service notes:
- Full-service option
- No hidden fees
National flat fee MLS companies that serve North Carolina
Service areas: Multiple counties
About: Founded in 2017, Houzeo is a large national flat fee MLS company with headquarters in New York. Known for its technology, it can be a little more expensive than other companies. It’s a good choice if you’re a techie and don’t mind paying a little more for broad exposure.
Reviews and rating summary: Houzeo has 4.9 out of 5 stars (780 total reviews) on Google. Reviewers praise the company’s ease of use, response time, and technology – for which Houzeo is known.
Rate package overview:
Bronze package – $299: Includes a listing period of three months and six MLS photos. The package allows unlimited listing changes and cancelation at any time without penalty.
Silver package – $349: Includes a listing period of six months and 24 MLS photos. The package allows unlimited listing changes and cancelation at any time without penalty.
Gold package – $399: Includes a listing period of six months and unlimited MLS photos. The package allows unlimited listing changes, Houzeo showings, use of the Houzeo offers platform, and cancellation at any time without penalty.
Platinum package – $499 + 0.75% at closing: Includes a listing period of 12 months and unlimited MLS photos. The package allows unlimited listing changes, Houzeo showings, use of the Houzeo offers platform, and cancellation at any time without penalty. It also offers a free yard sign and virtual agent assistance.
Additional service notes:
- 100% online
- 5-star customer support
- Advanced technology
- Maximum exposure on Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, Redfin, and other sites
- Houzeo Concierge rush listing option lists your property within a business day
- Mobile app offers most functions of the web platform, including Offers and Showings
Clickit Realty Inc.
Service areas: Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, and Connecticut.
About: This Georgia-based company was founded in 2000 by Christopher Ballard, broker, and Richard Williams, broker/owner. They offer a selection of packages up to full service. Unlike some flat fee companies, Clickit Realty provides a comparative market analysis (CMA) with all its packages.
Reviews and rating summary: Clickit has 4.0 out of 5 stars (66 total reviews) on Google. Reviewers praise the company’s responsiveness when sellers had questions, Clickit’s professionalism, and affordable packages.
Rate package overview:
Silver package – $299: Includes a listing period of six months and three photos, a yard sign. Free listing changes, a CMA, color flyer, and broker consultation are part of the package.
Gold package – $399: Includes a listing period of six months and 25 MLS photos. Everything in the Silver package is included, with the addition of a virtual tour.
Platinum package – $599: Includes everything in the Gold package plus a lock box, a brochure box, an open house, and access to DocuSign for documents.
Full-service package – $995: Includes everything in the Platinum package for 12 months, plus contract and offer support, negotiating assistance, and contract presentation.
Additional service notes:
- Provides Comparative Market Analysis to sellers.
- Provides pricing support in all packages.
- Provides documents and paperwork for seller disclosures.
- House showings available at low prices in basic package
List with Freedom
Service areas: Serves most states
About: Since 2005, List with Freedom has provided flat fee real estate listings through an easy-to-use online platform. The company offers several choices of service levels, but no full-service option. Although they do offer customer support, this company is a better choice for experienced FSBO sellers.
Reviews and rating summary: List with Freedom has 4.4 out of 5 stars (1,692 total reviews) on Trustpilot. Reviewers like the company’s professionalism, customer support, and communication, but many found the process confusing and the technology challenging.
Rate package overview:
Silver package – $89: Includes a listing period of six months and just one photo. It allows unlimited free listing changes, but most other services are a la carte, with an additional fee. There’s no cancellation fee.
Gold package – $149: Includes a listing period of six months and six photos. It allows unlimited free listing changes, but most other services are a la carte, with an additional fee. There’s no cancellation fee.
Platinum package – $195: Includes a listing period of six months and 25 photos. It allows unlimited free listing changes, but most other services are a la carte, with an additional fee. There’s no cancellation fee.
Platinum+ package – $295: Includes a listing period of 12 months and max photos. It allows unlimited free listing changes, and includes an online showing scheduler, posting of a virtual tour, and unlimited open houses. There’s no cancellation fee.
Additional service notes:
- No cancellation fee
- Additional fees may be applicable, based on location
- Only one photo allowed in basic package listing
- No pricing support
Alternatives to a flat fee MLS service
There are a number of other ways to sell your house. Here are a few:
Option 1: Flat fee real estate agent
A flat fee real estate agent offers to list and sell your home for a flat rate rather than a percentage of the home sale. A flat fee agent might be a good option for a homeowner who wants to retain more control of their home sale, including pricing, marketing, and negotiations. The average flat fee cost can range between $3,000 and $5,000.
Without the incentive of a full commission, however, there is a chance that your house may sell for less because a flat fee agent may not spend as much time and effort marketing and showing your property. In addition, everything else may be extra: lock boxes, signage, photos, etc. Read your listing contract carefully to find out exactly what services a flat fee agent provides and if there are any additional fees.
Depending on the quality and experience of your agent, you also may not get guidance about disclosures or other aspects of the sale.
Option 2: Discount real estate brokers
You can seek out the services of a low-commission or discount real estate broker. These companies or agents are typically more expensive than flat fee MLS service, but they will accept a lower commission than most traditional agents – often 1%, 2%, or a negotiated flat fee. Most times, they still provide many of the basic services and support you might receive from a full-commission agent, with extra services sometimes available for an additional fee.
Keep in mind that you will probably still need to pay the full commission to the buyer’s agent.
The pool of discount brokers is limited, and you’re unlikely to get as much support from a limited services agent – although some state laws define the minimum service they must provide. But, you can save money if you’re willing to take on some of the duties of selling your home.
Option 3: For sale by owner (FSBO) platform
Similar to the national flat fee MLS companies we’ve listed above, there are other online FSBO platforms that offer additional options.
A few examples of other online FSBO platforms include:
Option 4: Full-service, experienced real estate agent
A top real estate agent does a lot more than just getting your home listed on the MLS. An experienced agent who has sold homes in your area has the advantage of knowing current market trends, leveraging local connections with contractors and sales contacts, and will have the proven skills to sell a home faster with the best results.
Some of the top benefits of using a full-service, full-commission real estate agent or broker include:
- Accurate pricing to fit market conditions
- Potential to sell your home at a higher price
- Network of skilled professionals
- Can help you prepare your home
- Appraisal expertise for the best valuation
- Can guide you through inspection pitfalls
- Elevated marketing and broader visibility
- Takes pressure and workload off the sellers
- Contract savviness to avoid delays
- Professional negotiation skills
“FSBO sellers lack outreach,” Pappalardo says. She believes an agent’s networking capability makes the commission well-earned.
Our data shows that the top 5% of real estate agents across the U.S. sell homes for as much as 10% more than the average real estate agent.
To help you find the right agent to sell your North Carolina home, visit HomeLight’s free Agent Match platform. HomeLight’s tool analyzes millions of transactions to find top agents who sell homes faster and for more money than average agents in your area.
Will I save money with a flat fee MLS listing service?
A common question sellers might ask is: Will my home sell for less if I use a flat fee MLS service, or will I really save money?
According to Pappalardo, a FSBO seller has to swap out either time, hassle, or money. In other words, it’s possible to save money with a flat fee MLS listing service, but only if you’re willing to put in extra time and effort.
You also forgo the expertise of a professional real estate agent who could save or earn you money by pricing your house right and negotiating with potential buyers.
A National Association of Realtors (NAR) report indicates that the median sale price for a FSBO home was $260,000, which is 7% less on average than properties represented by an agent.
Let’s break that down:
Selling FSBO = $260,000
Selling with an average agent = $318,000
Selling with a top-rated agent = $349,800
In this example, even after deducting a 6% agent commission of $20,988, the selling price with a top agent may still come in at $68,812 more than the FSBO selling price.
What if I need to sell my North Carolina home fast?
Another option for selling your home is to seek a cash offer from a house-buying company, such as an iBuyer or a We Buy Houses investor group.” Depending on your circumstances, a cash offer might be a good option.
One of the most convenient ways to sell a home fast is HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform. You can skip repairs, showings, and commissions and receive a no-obligation cash offer in as little as 72 hours. If you accept the offer, you can close in as few as 10 days.
What else should I know about selling a house in North Carolina?
North Carolina sellers of residential real estate are required to complete the Residential Property and Owners’ Association Disclosure Statement to divulge conditions and defects with the property.
In addition to listing defects, sellers must disclose HOA covenants and dues, natural hazards, oil and gas rights, planned community construction and pending litigation, and health and safety issues, including lead-based paint, radon, toxic mold, and asbestos.
North Carolina state law requires that a licensed attorney oversee the closing process, although this doesn’t have to be done in person.
More helpful insights about flat fee MLS services in North Carolina
Common questions about using flat fee MLS services in North Carolina:
Can using a flat fee listing service hurt my home sale?
Pappalardo says yes. Communication can be difficult. “Getting to the closing table is critical. You need a relationship with the buyer’s agent.” Without that relationship, negotiations may stall or the seller may not have all the documents needed at closing. Your results can vary depending on your selling situation and experience.
Do buyers’ agents avoid showing homes listed through a flat fee MLS service?
According to Pappalardo, “A buyer’s agent is less interested in showing [FSBO listings] because it can be a difficult transaction.”
Can there be hidden fees with a North Carolina flat fee MLS company?
Yes. It’s important to read the fine print and ask questions before you commit to a flat fee MLS company. The same holds true when considering any home-selling contract, even a full-service real estate agent’s listing agreement.
Ready to sell your North Carolina home?
There are pros and cons to selling your house by owner in North Carolina. If you choose to take on the duties of a listing agent, you’ll want to explore the option of flat fee MLS listing companies to get your property seen by a wide audience.
Each provides a different level of service for varying costs, so select the level of service that works best for you. Remember, Pappalardo advises, “Flat-fee services don’t guide and counsel you.” You may have unrealistic expectations. “What the seller wants and what the seller can get may be different.”
Keep in mind that most FSBO houses sell for less than an agent-assisted home sale. And don’t forget that as the seller, you are responsible for all disclosures and other required paperwork.
For more information on this and related topics, visit:
How to Sell a House “as is” in North Carolina
13 of the Top Housebuying Companies
Selling Your House Without A Realtor – Pros, Cons and Steps to Follow
5 of the Best 55 Plus Communities in North Carolina
8 Closing Costs North Carolina Sellers Customarily Pay
Header Image Source: (Jonny Gios / Unsplash)