Open Listings VS MLS Listings: A Guide for Home Sellers

By Home Bay

Posted on January 27th, 2017

Do you know the difference between an open listing and an MLS listing? Are you trying to figure out which is a better option for you? This post will define both and will explain the similarities and differences between the two. Read on to learn everything you need to know to make an educated decision on how to list your home.


MLS Listing:

To list your home on the MLS, you must work with a real estate agent or broker, who pays annual fees to have access to and to be able to list on their local MLS. Listing your home on the MLS can be achieved by hiring a real estate agent or discount brokerage, using a flat-fee MLS service or listing with Home Bay. Learn more about selling options here.

When you begin working with an agent, before your home is listed, you’ll be asked to sign a listing agreement. This agreement will state that you allow your agent or broker to list your home on your behalf. It will also outline and define any commissions or fees you agree to pay once your home has been sold.

Open Listing:

Open listings are most often used in one of three circumstances:

  • when an owner needs to sell very quickly and is urgently seeking a buyer
  • when an owner has had a hard time selling with an agent and wants to manage the sale themselves
  • when an owner is doing a FSBO sale, has a real estate background and can represent themselves


  • Both MLS listings and open listings are viable ways to get your home listed and in front of buyers.
  • Both listing types require the seller to sign a listing agreement, which defines all the terms of the sale.


  • MLS listings require you to commit to one agent or broker, whereas open listings are not exclusive.
  • MLS listings are much more popular than open listings and most sellers opt to use MLS listings.
  • Open listings do not have to be published on the MLS, but in most cases, sellers want them to be so they get more buyer exposure. This can be accomplished by hiring a discount broker or using a flat-fee MLS service.
  • Open listings don’t provide sellers with any sort of support or representation throughout their transaction. If a seller needs support, it has to be purchased through a third-party service.

You May Not Want to Use an Open Listing – Here’s Why:

FSBO sellers often default to open listings, but there are two major drawbacks to consider.

  1. Real estate agents solicit business to open listings, so sellers looking for qualified buyers often waste a bunch of time dealing with agents trying to sell them. Some agents even use a misleading pitch to try and get a face-to-face meeting. A common tactic is to promise they have a potential buyer, but they need to preview the home first. They’ll say anything they can to get in the door and convince the seller they need representation
  2. Buyer agents tend to be hesitant to work with open listings because rules about commission get a little fuzzy. As we explained above, with a traditional or MLS listing, the agent knows exactly what their commission will be. Things are not so clear cut with an open listing, which can be a turn off to buyer agents. Agents also tend to be hesitant about open listing sellers because their transactions are often more difficult and time-consuming.

Simplify You Home Sale:

If you’re thinking about a FSBO sale, don’t fuss with open listings or with the process of getting your listing on the MLS using a third-party service. Instead, use a service that was created to make the selling process as easy as possible.

Home Bay’s experienced real estate team of brokers, and transaction coordinators uses an exclusive right listing agreement. This agreement helps you avoid being solicited by other agents because they know they don’t have an opportunity to win your business. That means the only calls you’ll get will be from qualified buyers or agents with legitimate buyers – not agents trying to pitch their service. As an added bonus, Home Bay doesn’t charge a listing agent commission. Instead, we charge a low flat rate fee – which saves the average homeowner as much as $14k!

Interested in buying or selling?

We've improved the traditional real estate model with modern technology to cut costs, not quality.

Get started today

Posted in Listing Your Home, Selling a House