How to List Real Estate

Two Methods:Listing Your Home by Contracting with a RealtorListing Your Home Independently

Once you’ve decided to sell your home, you need to decide how to sell it. Since it’s in your best interest to advertise your home as widely as possible, you’ll need to “list” your home. When a house is “listed,” it means that it’s been listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is a nationwide database of houses for sale. While most people use a realtor to list their home, it isn’t mandatory to do so. Indeed, if you want to skip paying a realtor the 6% commission common in home sales, there are more ways than ever to do so while making sure your home is widely listed.

Method 1
Listing Your Home by Contracting with a Realtor

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    Ask around. The most common way of listing a house is by contracting with a realtor, and it’s going to be the most effective for most people, because the realtor takes care of the entire listing process for you. Not only can your realtor help you price the house and schedule showings, but they are also networked with other realtors—not to mention that it’s their full time job to sell houses. Although there are many things to consider when picking out a realtor, the first thing you should do when looking for a realtor is ask your friends and neighbors about realtors they’ve used in the past with success.[1]
    • Start off by talking with any new neighbors about realtors they used. A realtor with experience in a particular local market is a plus. They know the kinds of buyers to look for, market trends, and the best price points to start a listing.
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    Get references from recent clients. Once you’ve found a prospective realtor, ask them for a listing of recent clients so you can get a feel for the past clients’ opinions about the realtor. While the realtor isn’t likely to forward you negative references, the clients have no reason to lie about their experiences.[2]
    • This is one area where quantity can give you an idea of quality. As long as a realtor’s been in the business for a while, they should be able to give you as many references as you’d like to see.
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    Pull a record of their licensing. Like many professionals, realtors are licensed and bound by a code of ethics (not to mention law). If the prospective realtor has been sanctioned by any licensing bodies, there will be a record of the offense. Anyone considering contracting with a realtor should make sure to look up any disciplinary violations in their professional history.
    • Each state has their own licensing bodies for agents working with their jurisdictions. To find the one for your state, just use your favorite search engine to search for “disciplinary against realtors” in your state. The information needed to look up a violation may vary from state to state, but as a rule of thumb, get the realtor’s name and license number. As an example, you can browse the disciplinary actions against realtors in California at
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    Pay attention to credentialing. Credentials matter. Just like a doctor or a lawyer might be board-certified in certain practice areas, realtors can become credentialed specialists in certain areas. Some realtors specialize in representing buyers, while others might specialize in commercial real estate, residential real estate, land sales, or foreclosures.[3]
    • You can view a listing of the various specialties at the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) website, located at
    • Speaking of the National Association of Realtors, an NAR membership is another good sign. Not only does it denote professionalism, it also signifies the realtor has agreed to abide by the NAR’s Code of Ethics, viewable at[4]
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    Ask about experience. While experience isn’t a perfect indicator of competence, it’s a factor you should weigh in your decision. Ask your realtor how long they’ve been in business—you can always check up on them via the state licensing board—and make sure you’re comfortable with the answer.[5]
    • Most commentators agree that five years’ experience is long enough to have learned the ins and outs of the business, but your mileage may vary. Some agents will learn far more quickly than that.
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    Look at their web presence. Most people who purchase real estate these days begin their search on the web, and no one needs to understand this more than your prospective agent. Before you make a commitment, check out their listings online.[6]
    • This is easy enough to do. First, go to, then click the “Find a Realtor” tab at the top of the page. If the realtor has a good web presence, you should be able to see the number of active and total listings they’ve had on (which is updated with data from the MLS in real-time).
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    Make sure the agent knows your market. Ask your prospective agent about market trends, the asking and selling prices of comparable houses in the area, and how long homes in your area are staying on the market. These types of questions aren’t terribly complex. They’re the basic questions they need to answer in order to demonstrate their knowledge of a local market. If your prospective realtor blanks when you pose these kinds of questions, it’s not a great sign.[7]
    • One reason why thorough knowledge of the local market is crucial is pricing. While you have ultimate control over the selling price of your house, the realtor's expertise should help you understand if you're pricing too low or too high.
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    Be aware of the extra cost. Of course, the expertise and the networks of a realtor aren’t free. Realtors charge a commission to execute a sale. When this commission is added to the other closing costs, it can add up to a significant expense.[8]
    • A commission of 6% is typical, but is negotiable. The commission is split evenly between the buyer and seller.

Method 2
Listing Your Home Independently

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    Determine how much coverage you want across platforms. A home has to be listed by a broker to make it onto the MLS. In the old days, that meant a person had to find a local broker and pay them a flat fee to get their house listed if they didn’t want to use the services of a realtor. These days, there are literally dozens of services on the web that will take care of the listing for you, including,, and The biggest decision you’ll need to make is deciding how much coverage you’d like to get across platforms. [9]
    • For example, you might pay a flat fee to get listed on the MLS and (which overlap), the MLS,, and a for-sale-by owner website, or by all of the above, plus Trulia, Zillow, and national real estate brokerages like Keller Williams and ReMax.
    • The fees increase in proportion to the amount of coverage you get. While you can get listed on only the MLS and for less than $100, you might have to spend as much as $800 to get coverage on all available platforms.[10]
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    Decide which package options are right for you. In addition to coverage across platforms, the flat-fee listing sites have different packages claiming to offer ever increasing marketing advantages. These might the length of time a home will be listed, the number of pictures that can be added to the listing, placement of your listing at the top of a page, and yard signs.[11]
    • Although all of the flat-free listing services promise better results the more money you spend, it’s nearly impossible to find independent verification of these claims. Your best bet is to find a flat-fee company doing a lot of business in your area and checking their reputation with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
    • The BBB is a nonprofit funded by businesses that rates, reviews, and credentials businesses in order to ensure consumer confidence. You can look up a business at by entering the business’ name, URL, or phone number, and narrowing down the geographic area as much as possible.
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    Create your listing. You need to try and write a listing which is as compelling as possible without overpromising. Be sure to include the following elements:[12]
    • A descriptive and succinct heading. Instead of listing the address and the price in the title, be a little creative. For example, instead of “123 Red Robin Lane, $100,000,” try something like “Charming turn of the century craftsman home in the popular Red Robin neighborhood.”
    • As many pictures as possible. Humans are visual creatures, and the more pictures you have on the listing, the more likely you are to sell the home.
    • Specific details about the house. Be sure to include details like number of rooms, square footage, size of the lot, and any amenities that come along with the house—sunrooms, porches, a fenced-in yard, attractive interior styling, etc.
    • The price. Make it as easy as possible for someone to buy your house. Don’t be the person who creates a listing without a price, or worse, “inquire” where the price should be.
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    Don’t forget to cross-post. Remember to add your listing to sites like and if you’re selling independently. While most buyers will start out their search on the larger sites like, widening your exposure can only work to your benefit. In addition, most listings to sites like these are free or low cost.[13]
    • In most areas, listings on the MLS are added to sites like Trulia and Zillow, but not every locality’s MLS shares information with these sites. Make sure to check with your flat-fee listing service to find out. If the listings aren’t automatically shared, you’ll need to upload your listing yourself.

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Categories: Selling Property