A ”Mere Posting" allows a REALTOR® to limit their involvement on a MLS® System property listing to a very short and definable time frame. Essentially what a mere posting amounts to is a "For Sale by Owner" (FSBO) or private seller that has their property marketed through an MLS® System. Only a provincially licensed REALTOR® can enter the data into their privately owned database although now sellers are permitted to try their hand - without representation - in negotiating their way through the actual give-and-take "System" that had previously been the privy of REALTORS®.
For a "Mere Posting": The seller's REALTOR® (the listing agent) provides the home seller with a market value opinion, verifies all the data provided by the seller, and the home listing data and photos provided by the seller are entered into the local MLS® System database. The homeowner takes complete control of the selling process from that point onwards. The buyer’s REALTOR® would call the homeowner directly (rather than the listing REALTOR®) when they wished to show the property to their buyer. The seller would arrange - and be available for - all buyer viewings. They would conduct any open houses of their own homes. They would be responsible to negotiate against the buyers' REALTORS®, provide all the required legal disclosures and know how to protect their own interests throughout the transaction. For buyers who are unrepresented by REALTORS®, the seller would be responsible for pre-screening the potential buyer for a basic ability to buy a home well before allowing them into the home.
In a "Mere Posting," the listing REALTOR® is prohibited from offering advise to or negotiating on behalf of the seller. (Doing so would revert the property listing to a traditional, full-service relationship.)
When the buyer’s REALTOR® submits an offer on behalf of their client, the offer is given directly to the seller, not the listing REALTOR® since that service too had not been contracted for by the seller. In other words, the listing REALTOR® is finished immediately upon verifying and completing the entry of a mere posting into the local MLS® System database. [The listing REALTOR® must maintain the listing's accuracy throughout the term of the listing including material updates, marking status changes and posting the final selling price.]
As a result of the very definable work that a listing REALTOR® does for a mere posting, the traditional commission-based remuneration is giving way to a comparatively smaller “pay in advance” flat fee. We have seen this MLS® System Access fee as low as $295 by real estate marketing package firms [in addition to their marketing package of $995 + photography] This service fee compensates only the listing REALTOR®, and the buyer's REALTOR® is still left to be paid for their services. While Canadian sellers have been relucatant to pay lower-priced, paid in advance full-representation real estate services, there seems to be a small movement to embrace this "no representation" route. Unfortunately, sellers have been reluctant to ask for FULL representation and guidance throughout the entire process for only a few hundred dollars more -- again, through an upfront, non-refundable fee (and a portion paid on the sale.) Many sellers only believe (or have been misled) that their only other option is to take the traditional route of paying a higher compensation through a commission based on if, and when, their home sells (i.e. the paying of commission is contingent upon the sale). Note one of the basic rules of commerce: the higher the risk of getting paid, the higher the compensation that should be expected.
Occassionally "Mere Postings" offer little - or sometimes effectively no - compensation to the REALTOR® that eventually brings the buyer. They either expect the buyer to pay their own way in the process, or they expect the buyer to instruct their REALTOR® to negotiate it directly from the seller. Unfortunately, based on experience, this hurts the seller's chances for a successful sale. Of course the buyer and the seller - both - have the option to negotiate their own real estate service fees with their own REALTOR®: Always has been this way, always will be this way. Anyone saying any differently is just plain wrong.
Unlike a popular myth, a buyer doesn't get their real estate agent's services for free -- it's included in the purchase price -- or they can pay the agent themselves. If they don't use their own agent, the seller's agent (in a traditional, full-service MLS® listing) is paid the fee that would otherwise be directed to the buyer's agent. In a situation where they are working directly with a seller, the seller will try to keep fee otherwise due to a buyer's agent - effectively resulting in absolutely no savings for the buyer (...and they could be significantly overpaying for the home since they wouldn't have been counselled on market SELLING prices similar to if they had been dealing directly with the seller's REALTOR® in a traditional, full-service listing.) Does a buyer's REALTOR® bring value to the transaction? Absolutely!
Because the vast majority of home purchases are completed with a mortgage as financing, when presented with this situation, a buyer will often instruct their REALTOR® to not even show them homes that the seller has not offered adequate compensation to the REALTOR® that they are using. The reason: If the seller won't pay an adequate compensation, then the amount required by their REALTOR® will have to come out of the money they had reserved for their down payment. This would force them to buy a lesser home that may not fully meet their needs. Or it would require an "all cash" purchaser - which limits the marketability of the home. To some, it may appear that the buyers' REALTORS® have made the business decision not to show "mere postings" or other private sales since there is a small uncertainly that they may not get paid unless they sue either the seller or, unfortunately, their own client for payment for the real estate services performed. Oftentimes, buyers' REALTORS® expect a premium in their fees due to the extra work that's inevitably involved in dealing with a private seller or "Mere Posting."
As a result, "Commission Free" is not truly an option if the home is entered into the MLS® System. Every home sold through the MLS® System has some real estate fees built into the selling price - some are flat fees (paid by the seller, paid by the buyer, or both), and some are percentages of the selling price (paid by the seller, paid by the buyer, or both) or a combination of the two. To say that any home sales through the MLS® System can be "commission free" is just plain deceptive marketing. The value of the MLS® System and the database is proven by sellers (both with and without representation) that scramble to get their home entered into this database even with its necessary bureaucracy. The foundation of the "System" is the REALTOR® to REALTOR® co-operation (or in the case of mere postings, seller to REALTOR® co-operation). The MLS® System is to real estate like "the Google search" is to the Internet.
As a busy REALTOR®, prior to 2012 it had been tough to find all the private sellers' homes to be able to show my buyer clients. Now, with a good quantity of private sellers scrambling to the local MLS® System using "Mere Postings," they have become much easier to find. In the past, many of the private sales already included a REALTOR® being involved; but, as more sellers try their hand at marketing, negotiating and selling their home through these Mere Postings and excluding most of the services (and costs) of the selling REALTOR®, it will undoubtably increase the number of sales that include the use of a REALTOR®.
Should a seller ever forego full representation by a REALTOR®?
I don't recommend it for most homeowners, but it is an avenue that some experienced sellers could take if they have the time, knowledge and expertise. The largest potential benefactors have yet to embrace the opportunity of mere postings: Builders, who employ their own - unlicensed - sales persons could have their whole inventory promoted to the general public and the buyers' REALTORS® in a very cost effective manner. This could significantly reduce the builders' marketing costs and overall marketing time. Perhaps it's the time issue as to why they haven't taken advantage of the opportunity: There is already a significant delay between making the purchase and the occupancy of a newly built home.