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Where to List Your Home

Once upon a time real estate agents in every city and region of the country waited for the arrival of the most recent edition of the Multiple Listing Service - which came to the office on paper, how quaint! - with the anticipation of treasure hunters waiting for the latest clues to the whereabouts of the buried gold. A new edition of the local MLS might include the real estate "treasure," just perfect for one of their clients. To the average home seller or buyer, the MLS was mysterious but extremely important since it was the most inclusive list of the area's properties for sale.

Value of the MLS

These days your local MLS still is the single most valuable marketing tool available to sellers of homes, though it is less mysterious than it once was. Thanks to the advent of the Internet age, anyone can now look at MLS listings  for virtually any region of the country. Do a search for "multiple listing service" with the name of your city and you will surely find some agency that offers a link.

But if you want to list your home on your local MLS, you'll still go through a licensed real estate agent or a discount brokerage. Full-service agents include MLS listings as part of their basic package of services. In most areas of the country, the local MLS is owned and operated by the local association of professional Realtors and brokers, so their access to the MLS has always been a compelling reason to use an agent when you sell or buy a home. Nowadays if you're trying to sell your home yourself there are discount brokerages that will post your home on the MLS for a flat fee, usually in the ballpark of several hundred dollars. The discount brokers also are easily found online, especially if you search for MLS listings.

Beyond the MLS

The Internet has created additional options when it comes to listing your home for sale. Sales also occur as a result of posting your home on Web sites, such as,,, Craigslist, Google Base, and MSN Windows Live Expo. (Agents also post clients' homes on these sites as a way to reach buyers house hunting on their own).

Many agents also include places for their listings on their own sites.  Like virtually every other professional today, agents often have their own Web sites to market themselves and their listings.  That means that if your agent has her own Web site, you can ask to have a site made for your home and link it to her page.

Placing classified ads in local newspapers is of course the time-honored way to announce that your home is for sale, and today many newspapers with online editions will offer a discounted price if you buy a classified in both the print and online editions. Given that many people are likely to spend at least as much time doing house research online as browsing through classifieds on newsprint, it is probably well worth the cost to place an online classified ad in addition to a traditional print classified.

The Marketing Plan

If you're working with an agent, the first thing you need to do is to sit down with her and discuss what she will do to market your home, including exactly where she will list your home and where and when she will place advertisements, including perhaps placing larger ads in the Sunday real estate section of your local paper. If you're not working with an agent you will need to list the home yourself.

Either way, here is a checklist of where your home should be listed:

1. The MLS. This is a no-brainer. Once you get your home ready to sell, the first thing any professional agent will do is list it on the MLS. If you're going to try to sell it yourself, consider finding a discount brokerage to list it for you and expect to pay $300 to $500. (You could also end up paying 3-4% to the listing agent.)

2. The classified advertising section of the largest general circulation newspaper in your city. If the paper has an online edition, list your home there too.

3. If your agent has her own Web site, your house should be listed there, preferably with its own homepage. If you're selling on your own and can make a site for your home, go ahead. The more exposure the better.

4. Post your home on Zillow for free. Consider buying a ZIP-targeted Zillow Showcase Ad, too.

5. Does your workplace, health club, church, or community center have a Web site or publication that includes classifieds? Don't forget to post your home there too!

By Diane Tuman

Next article: Photographing Your House Checklist

Previous article: How to Pre-Market a Home

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  • Last edited October 12 2012
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