Discount Real Estate Brokers Are Back

Man working on computer with sale sign on it and coffee in hand.

Discount real estate services seem to be back in full swing. That said, do these brokers hold any weight? If so, how will they affect the real estate industry?

Spend a few moments browsing the web for real estate related searches, and you’ll likely find you are running into more discount real estate brokerages than in recent years. They go by many different names and banners. They are often hated on by traditional real estate brokerages and full service offices, yet nobody wants to over pay. Many homeowners are fearful they can’t afford to pay higher commissions. However, a recent panel in Miami heard major online portals saying that no app will be able to replace agents in the next 10 years.

So how do these services really work? What is their value, and pitfalls? What are the other alternatives?

Discount Real Estate Brokerage Services

While these services are often lumped into one category, they now offer a wide variety of different structures. Some simply place homeowners’ listings on the MLS for a flat fee. There is no question that the MLS can be very powerful for visibility. Traditionally, the bulk of Realtor listings have always been sold through the Multiple Listing Service. Some full service Realtors have even gone to flat, free brokers to list their own residences in the past to avoid paying the high splits at their own firms. Other discount brokerages offer a sliding scale or menu of services that property owners can pick from. What most fail to recognize is that actually getting people to come check out their listings and bid on them still normally comes down to how much commission is being offered to the selling or buyer’s agent. If you offer just 2 percent when local builders are paying Realtors 10 percent commissions, which properties do you think will be shown and pushed? However, it does free up one side of the commission so more can be paid to buyer’s agents.

Most consider these services catastrophic for the industry. They just help price Realtors out of business.

FSBO Services

There are also a number of For Sale By Owner services out there. Again, these vary widely. Some offer the ability to advertise homes on their websites. Others offer a menu that may include for sale signs, access to forms, etc. These services shouldn’t all blindly be thrown into the same boat. In the past, they have often proven to ultimately either fail to result in sales, or wind up being more expensive than a full service real estate broker. In fact, the head of one of the largest of these services infamously turned to a full service broker to sell his own property. More visibility is normally always good. However, if there is no guarantee of a sale, homeowners can find they wind up paying a lot of money, without a deal being done. This is in stark contrast to a full service Realtor who only charges once a sale is final. It may be cheaper to go get your own signs from a local home improvement store, or place an ad in your newspaper’s classified section.

Full Service Real Estate Brokers

What the above services lack is a full service approach, which helps sellers with professional negotiations. For those tight on time to market their own home, and with little experience, a full service agent can often earn their keep. Don’t forget that you can always negotiate their rates too. The downside can be no guarantee of a sale, long marketing times, and that the quality of service can vary dramatically.

If You Need to Sell Your Home Immediately

If you need to sell a home immediately – without upfront costs, high commissions, or hassle – look for a real estate investor that can pay cash and will buy your home as-is.


Discount real estate services are growing in popularity once again. If you know what you are doing or are selling in volume, these services can sometimes be very helpful. Don’t underestimate the value of full service when it is warranted. For those that just want a fast sale with no nonsense, it’s worth checking out investors with cash.