Most homeowners agree that the process of selling a home by themselves has the potential to be stressful and confusing. Because of this, most understand that having the guidance and experience of a real estate agent is important. However, this is where confusion can again surface, as homeowners struggle to choose between full-service or flat-fee representation. 

Admittedly, the opportunity to save some money can be appealing to homeowners, who are likely looking ahead to closing fees and the cost of purchasing and moving in to their next home. It is important, however, to fully understand the services and benefits that you may sacrifice by opting to save a few dollars. 

Understanding the flat-fee brokerage model

As the name suggests, flat-fee real estate brokerages provide a specific menu of services from which their clients can select. Each offering has a set fee and can usually be chosen in any combination. In most cases the basic offering of a flat-fee brokerage will include marketing the home through the multiple listing service (MLS) and displaying it on the company's website. Additional services, such as enhanced marketing and showing the home to buyers, are typically available at an additional cost. 

How a full-service real estate brokerage differs

When a homeowner contacts a full-service real estate agent to begin the process of listing their home, the agent often begin work before the listing contract is even signed. A comparative market analysis (CMA) is completed to help both the agent and the seller understand how the home compares to others on the market in the area as well as those that have recently sold. 

The full-service real estate agent then proceeds to assist the seller with preparing the home for the market. In most cases, the real estate agent will visit the home to view it prior to the listing and make suggestions that will help to make it as marketable as possible. 

Once the listing contract has been signed and the home is officially listed for sale, the listing agent does extensive marketing, fields calls from buyers, networks with other agents, shows the home, and negotiates any offers that may come in. This leaves the seller free to focus on family, work, and other commitments with only the need to keep the home clean and available for showing. 

Once the home has gone under contract, the full-service listing agent works to facilitate the inspection phase, fields calls from lenders, appraisers, and inspectors, and moves the transaction successfully to closing. 

Homeowners who still have questions about the type of representation they should hire should discuss their concerns with an experienced realtor or broker in their area, such as Steve Cohn - Keller Williams Realty - Petaluma, before making a final decision.