Over the past couple of years, I’ve answered many questions about the changes to the MLS system and what it means to discount brokerages, private home sellers, private home selling marketing franchises, and traditional real estate agents. Recently I went back over my old emails and blog posts and put together the questions and answers on these issues. Here they are. If you have any other questions, please email me or leave a comment and I will address them too.
Q: What is a “Mere Posting”?
A: According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, a “mere posting” sometimes referred to as a “mere listing” is a listing on a board or real estate association’s MLS system in respect of which the Member (Realtor) has chosen or agreed not to provide services to the Seller other than submitting the listing for posting on the Board’s MLS System. This change is a direct result of the Consent Agreement between the Canadian Real Estate Association and the Commissioner of Competition.
According to the agreement, a listing Realtor/Brokerage must act as agent for the seller to post, amend or remove a property listing in a Board’s MLS System. However, the nature of any additional services to be provided by the listing Realtor/Brokerage to the seller is determined by agreement between the listing Realtor/Brokerage and the seller.
In simple language, a mere posting is a property listing that is for sale by owner but advertised on Realtor.ca on behalf of the private seller via a listing on a Board’s MLS System. It is listed for a flat fee and is free of any traditional realtor commissions.
This means you can opt-in for a flat fee mere posting and opt-out for having a real estate agent represent your interests in dealing with any prospective buyers, agents or any transaction that may result.
Q: How does it happen?
A: Licensed realtors operating as discount brokerages and/or for sale by owner companies partnering with licensed real estate posting brokerages, process the listing to the MLS system on behalf of the home sellers.
Q: Do you have to go through a real estate agent?
A: Yes. In order to maintain the integrity of the information on Realtor.ca, a licensed real estate agent or broker must process the listing.
Q: How much commission will I pay?
A: It’s not really a commission. You pay for the mere listing upfront as a flat fee charge. It can be anywhere from $99 (as currently advertised as part of a for sale by owner company’s a-la-carte package) to over $700 or $800 with a discount brokerage. If you google “flat fee”, you’ll find you’ll find information on “a-la-carte” and bundled fees.
Q: How soon will my listing appear on MLS?
A: Usually within 24 hours. In Kitchener Waterloo, real estate agents have the training to “broker load” their listing. That means they can do it themselves right away. (I don’t know if other real estate boards and associations have this service). They will have to verify the accuracy of your information of course.
Q: Can you make changes/additions to it once it’s uploaded?
A: Yes. Your realtor can do this. As mentioned above, the general public cannot post, amend or remove information themselves.
Q: Can I post an Open House message on Realtor.ca
A: Your agent can.
Q: Should I let agents show my property.
A: Only if you are prepared to pay them a fee. If you are paying a “buyer agent fee”, please put in the listing what it is. “Negotiable” is too wishy-washy for most real estate agents. To be contractually binding, the buyer agent fee should be included in the listing.
Note: Most local agents pay no attention to mere postings. It is not because we find dealing with amateur home sellers frustrating and a lot of work, it’s because we don’t see the mere postings unless out clients bring them to us. Mere postings are posted on Realtor.ca. That’s a consumer site. Realtors have better sites at the board/association level. We upload our listings to the board and Realtor.ca picks them up here. We don’t see most mere postings because most are not posted to our board.
Q: Can a private seller show their contact information on the mere listing and be contacted directly from Realtor.ca?
A: No. All communication from potential buyers seeing your listing on Realtor.ca (MLS) must first pass through your posting agent. Your posting agent will direct all enquires for showings, offers, commissions directly to you.
Q: What will be the duration of a mere listing on MLS?
A: Six months is typical.
Q: Will I be able to link my mere listing to another website or facebook page?
A: No. Under the Consent Agreement, the MLS® Rules still prohibit posting any internet links or email links in the Client Remarks, or in the Virtual Tour of the MLS® listing. This rule applies to everyone including agents and brokers.
Q: Can I state how much commission (flat fee) I am willing to pay?
A: Yes. This is important. Any commission stated in the listing becomes the contractual commitment for the mere listing or flat fee brokerage and must come out of total commission or fee paid to the listing brokerage by the Seller. Unless the listing brokerage has a commission agreement with the Seller, it cannot guarantee that any commission will be paid to the cooperating brokerage. If attracting agents with buyers is important to you, you must decide on a commission amount when you list. This information will be viewable to all agents but not the general public.
Q: Am I obligated to disclose defects (patent and latent), material facts and stigmas affecting the property?
A: Sellers have a contractual obligation to provide complete and truthful disclosures. This information can include and is not limited to structural defects, building code violations, unlawful use of the property such as illegal basement apartments, potential environmental hazards, underground oil tanks and septic systems, and “stigmatized” houses. Some examples of stigma include properties with history of growth or manufacture of illegal substances (marijuana grow-ops), history of serious crimes or incidents such as murder, suicide, arson or burglary, and properties that are believed to be “haunted” even if the Seller denies or does not believe in such a thing. There was a case recently where there was a known sex offender living in the neighborhood and the sellers were successfully sued for not disclosing this well known fact to the buyers. I believe their realtor was sued as well.
Q: Can agents working for Royal LePage, RE/MAX and the other big brokerages list mere postings?
A: No. We must provide a service component to our listings. This means you can negotiate flat fee with a-la-carte services with a local agent at a flat fee, like you would with a discount brokerage but with better communication, service and professionalism.
Q: How effective is a mere posting on Realtor.ca?
A: Although it is wonderful exposure and a mere posting will get lots of views, it is only effective if it helps sell your home. I did an informal survey around my office asking our agents if they’ve sold a listing in the past five years from a phone call from Realtor.ca. Some have, but it is very uncommon. My survey revealed that it is about as common as someone wandering into your open house and wanting to buy it.