Multiple Listing Service (MLS): When is a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) no longer a FSBO?

Especially this time of year home Sellers and home Buyers are inundated with information on where and how to list and search for a home. Frequently you see ads, like I did just this week, promoting selling your home as a FSBO. This particular ad stated for a fee I’m able to enlist the services of a broker to list my house as a FSBO and gain access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

My first question, am I still a FSBO when I agree be listed on MLS and I’m forced to pay a commission to the Selling agent?

According to the contributors at Wikipedia a For Sale By Owner, or FSBO (pron.: /ˈfɪzb/), is the process of selling real estate without the representation of a real estate broker or real estate agent. Homeowners may employ the services of marketing or online listing companies or market their own property but do not pay a commission and represent themselves with the help of a lawyer or Solicitor throughout the sale.”

As defined by Real Estate Fundamentals, a study book to help prepare individuals to successfully pass the real estate exam, “Multiple Listing Service ( MLS) is a marketing organization composed of member brokers who agree to share their listing agreements with one another in the hope of procuring a buyer for their property” …….the carrot for the Selling agent or Buyer agent is the commission offered by the Listing agent to be paid at closing. If no commission is offered the house will not sell using the MLS.

Therefore it stands to reason, according to the above definitions, if I’m using a broker to list my FSBO home on MLS and as a direct consequence I’m forced to pay a commission, I’m not a FSBO.

Hence the above broker that advertises to represent me as a FSBO is really a “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”. I scratch my head and question is the broker guilty of deceptive practices. The broker has either performed a bait and switch or is attempting to exploit the unknowing FSBO seller.

If your intention is to be a FSBO be careful this time of year and in this market. There are many unscrupulous wolves (brokers) waiting to feed upon your home equity.

I assure you, in 2014, it is possible to sell your home as a FSBO without posting it to MLS.


Donald Van Dyne is THE FSBO ADVOCATE. He is also a licensed real estate agent in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the principal at JABIN Software, the developer of the iGOfsbo system. Donald is a seasoned entrepreneur and has over twenty years of experience owning and operating businesses.  For the last twelve years his focus has been in real estate sales, real estate development and property management. Donald can be reached at 978.250.FSBO (3726) or To check out the Evolution of Real Estate Sales & Marketing please visit us at