If you decide to sell your home without a real estate agent, then you should consider using a multiple listing service to sell your home.

Q: I have finally had it with real estate agents and have decided to use a for sale by owner (FSBO) web service.

The company offers a few different options with various prices. The most expensive includes 6 months of being listed in the local multiple listing service (MLS). The other options offer advertisements on real estate web sites (Realtor.com, etc.), but not a listing on the MLS.

There is a big difference in price just to be listed on the MLS for 6 months. I am a little hesitant to do this option since I know 6 months can easily go by with no offers. Is an MLS listing really necessary?

A: There are statistics out there that indicate that most homes sell with the help of a real estate agent. The number one tool to market those homes is probably the multiple listing service (MLS). This listing service in most markets gives real estate agents the ability to view and review all listing in a geographic area at certain price points. Some industry observers say that if your home isn’t in the MLS, you’re losing out on the single most effective tool to sell your home.

Twenty or so years ago, a for sale by owner (FSBO) seller would advertise his home in local newspapers and a lawn sign to market his home. Few if any of these FSBO sellers succeeded in selling their homes. More recently, the internet has started to level the playing field, but many buyers still work with real estate agents in the purchase of their homes. Those buyer agents rely on the MLS to show their homes.

If many or most buyers work with real estate agents that generally use the MLS to show their buyers properties, a FSBO seller might lose out of a large percentage of the market of buyers looking for homes out there. That leads to most FSBO sellers trying to find a way to get there homes on to their local MLS service.

The FSBO service you saw can assist you through various FSBO seller packages. The more you want, the more you pay, with the top package giving you access to the MLS for 6 months. It would appear to us that you’d probably want to give your home the greatest exposure to the greatest number of buyers and that you wouldn’t want to exclude a major source of potential buyers when marketing your home.

The decision you need to make as you decide whether a FSBO package is right for you in selling your home is making sure you understand what it will take to sell your home. If you overprice your home for sale, trying to sell it yourself wouldn’t seem to give you a good result.

You still will need to price your home right, make sure your home shows really well both from the inside and from the outside, take great photos for posting on websites, create a beautiful brochure for the home, and make sure the description of your home is succinct, emphasizes the good points of your home and accurately shows off your home.

As the real estate market has improved in many areas, you have a better chance of selling your home today than you might have had a year or two ago. But home sellers can make the same mistakes in any market. Again, you need to decide whether you want to spend money upfront to sell the home yourself in a FSBO or try again with a real estate agent.

Having said all that, we would still think that listing your home on the MLS is a good thing to get your home sold. Unless you find a buyer that is searching for homes himself or herself and starts their search on the many sites out there that carry listings, you might miss out of that one buyer truly looking for a home like yours.