Whether you're selling a duplex in Irvine or a villa in the Sierra Nevadas, paying 6% in realtor fees is a lot.
That’s why some sellers use a flat fee MLS company to list their home on the multiple listing service (MLS) — the main place where realtors find homes to show their clients — in exchange for a small one-time fee.
What’s the catch?
- Less support: You manage your own sale — without a full-service real estate agent to handle pricing, photography, paperwork, and negotiations.
- Lower sales price: For sale by owner (FSBO) homes usually sell for significantly less than homes sold by agents — 6% less on average.
- You still pay a buyer’s agent fee: 88% of buyers work with an agent — who still needs to get paid. In California, you’re on the hook for 2.00%–2.82% of the final sale price.
If you want to save on fees but aren’t ready for a do-it-yourself experience, Clever can match you with full-service realtors who work for a low flat fee of $3,000 or 1%.
Clever is the best alternative to the full DIY approach if you're in California! You'll save thousands on listing fees, while still getting the support you need to sell your home fast AND for top dollar.
If you’re still interested in finding the best flat fee MLS California companies in California, read on! We’ve reviewed the best (and worst) services in The Golden State.
The 6 best California flat fee MLS companies*
Flat Fee Guru
Unlimited listing updates
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Sellers who want a lot of a-la-carte options
- Congress Realty has a phone system that forwards any phone calls about your listing directly to you.
- You can request a free Comparative Marketing Analysis if you want a better idea of what homes in your area have sold for recently.
- Congress Realty costs a lot more than competitors with similar MLS packages.
- You have to pay an extra $50 if you want more than four photos in your listing.
Budget-conscious sellers who only need a basic listing
- You can add on listing support and offer negotiation for an hourly fee.
- The basic listing comes with eight photos. Many listing packages under $100 include less than five photos.
- The basic listing is only a three-month listing term. If you need more time, you have to upgrade to the Annual plan for a 12-month listing.
- You can't make changes to your listing or add open houses with the basic plan.
- This broker is currently only available in Northern California.
Sellers who don't mind paying for extra guidance from the listing broker.
- You don't have to pay upfront. Instead, you'll pay the flat fee when at closing.
- You'll get help preparing offers, counter-offers, and disclosures from the broker.
- There's only one listing option and it's fairly expensive — although you do get a lot of broker support. This isn't a great option for sellers on a tight budget.
- HomeListers.House is currently only available in 10 Southern California markets.
Sellers who want to post a lot of photos
- The base package includes up to 20 photos. A lot of other companies limit you to fewer than 10.
- If you decide to list with a full-service Realtor, you'll get double your listing fee back if you sell with an agent referred to you by Flat Fee Guru.
- You have to pay extra if your home is over 3,000 sq. ft.
Budget-conscious sellers who need a simple, affordable listing
- The basic listing comes with 15 photos.
- If you go with the Silver Plan ($399), you'll get a for sale sign and property flyers as part of the package.
- The basic plan doesn't come with contracts, forms, and disclosure documents.
- If you cancel the basic plan within 60 days, you have to pay a $125 cancellation fee.
Sellers looking for a lot of a-la-carte options
- You can fill out, sign, and submit all your seller's paperwork on the Houzeo app.
- When you enter your address, Houzeo auto-fills publicly available data about your property.
- Houzeo lets you buy additional services like contract reviews, agent showings, and professional showings a la carte.
- You have to pay extra for pricing assistance — several local competitors offer this for free.
- You're limited to 10 free changes for price, status, and description in their two most popular packages. Most competitors offer unlimited free changes.
Flat fee MLS companies in California by city
In California, you'll also find some smaller flat fee MLS companies that specialize in particular cities. These uber-local companies are more likely to offer flexible service packages and bring more area expertise than the big guys.
Every California flat fee MLS service is different. Always make sure to read the fine print when evaluating offerings to make sure you get a fair deal.
Flat fee MLS companies in Los Angeles
We found several options for flat fee MLS companies in Los Angeles, from local brokers to national listing companies. You'll find a lot of choices for both price and services. We found basic listings for as low as $150 and complete listing packages for nearly $1,000.
» EXPLORE: The Best Los Angeles Flat Fee MLS Companies
Flat fee MLS companies in Fresno
Fresno has a lot of affordable options for flat fee MLS listings. You can pay as little as $100 for a basic six-month listing or pay up to $1,000 for hands-on assistance from the listing broker.
» EXPLORE: The Best Fresno Flat Fee MLS Companies
Flat fee MLS companies in San Diego
The flat fee MLS options in San Diego are pretty limited. We didn't find options for both listing packages and add-ons that you might find in other regions of California. Still, you can find some affordable prices. We found basic listings for $50 and comprehensive packages for $1,000.
» EXPLORE: The Best San Diego Flat Fee MLS Companies
Flat fee MLS companies in Sacramento
We found typical rates for flat fee MLS companies in Sacramento from $50 to $500, with a lot of options for à la carte services and comprehensive listing packages.
» EXPLORE: The Best Sacramento Flat Fee MLS Companies
Flat fee MLS companies in San Francisco
San Francisco may be the most expensive city in the U.S., but you can still find affordable flat fee MLS listings here. We've seen basic packages for $100 and comprehensive listings for up to $1,000.
Hidden costs of flat fee MLS companies
Some companies claim to offer flat fee MLS services but charge hidden fees at closing. We've even seen some companies that claim to offer a free MLS listing only to charge you a percentage of the sale price at closing.
These predatory practices could cost you thousands of dollars when you expect to pay only a few hundred.
Always make sure to read the fine print for any service. Look out for "closing fees" or "admin fees" that you'll owe the broker in addition to an upfront flat fee.
Further, some of the best flat fee MLS California companies offer à la carte services like photography, paperwork help, and signage. These services can reduce some of your DIY work, but watch out. These add-ons can add up!
At a certain point, you may be better off finding a full-service agent who charges a clear and upfront discounted rate.
What are the alternatives to using a flat fee MLS service in California?
Discount and flat fee real estate agents
Discount real estate brokers will list your property for as little as 1% — but keep in mind that you usually still have to pay a 2.6–3% buyer’s agent fee.
We’ve reviewed five national and regional discount brokers that operate in California.
In California, Clever offers the lowest rates, with an added advantage: Clever lets you compare multiple agents from major brands like Keller Williams, Century 21, and RE/MAX.
Clever is an agent-matching service that can match you with a pre-vetted, full-service agent for only $3,000 (or 1% if your home is priced above $350,000), plus the typical buyer's agent commission.
Your Clever agent will handle everything for you, helping you accurately price your home, get high-quality photography, negotiate with prospective buyers, and complete paperwork.
You'll pay only a little more than you'd pay a flat fee MLS service, but you'll save hours of effort by not having to do everything yourself!
Selling without an MLS listing
It's always possible to try selling your house by owner without listing on the MLS. But this makes sense only if you already have a potential buyer lined up.
That's because not listing on your local MLS means not getting the most effective exposure for your property. MLS listings are posted to every major real estate website. Plus, real estate agents access MLS listings to find properties for their clients.
If you don't secure an MLS listing, you'll be limited to sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace and relying on a yard sign.
iBuyers are companies that buy homes for cash outright at what they claim are market prices. When you sell to an iBuyer, you could have a preliminary offer in as little as 24 hours.
The major downside of selling to an iBuyer is that these companies make money by charging steep service fees — typically 5–14% of the purchase price. So they're a good alternative only for sellers more concerned with convenience and speed than costs.
There are currently three iBuyers operating in certain California markets. Click below to learn more.
Frequently asked questions
Typically, you can expect to pay about $200-400 for a flat fee MLS listing in California. However, we've seen basic plans for as low as $100 and more comprehensive services that charge as much as $1,300.
We strongly recommend offering a buyer's agent commission. This will incentivize agents to bring their clients to your home. With a flat fee California MLS broker, you'll still save money by not paying commission to a listing agent (typically 2.09%–2.91% of the sale price).
How much to offer a buyer's agent is up to you, but their commission in California typically ranges from 2.00%–2.82%.
California real estate laws require sellers to disclose all important information about their property, including:
- Building and safety information
- Environmental information (like erosion, noise pollution, and whether it's in a flood plain)
- Sewer and wastewater treatment
You'll share all of this information in the California Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement. Your listing broker will provide this document for you to fill out.
The best flat fee MLS California company is Congress Realty. It offers à la carte options so sellers can build customizable packages. This flat fee MLS service also offers a free comparative market analysis (CMA), which is an essential tool to help sellers strategically price and negotiate their homes.
For sellers looking for a basic, low-cost flat fee listing, MLS Town features a no-frills package that works well for experienced sellers. For inexperienced sellers, HomeListers.house, while a pricier option, offers guidance from a listing broker.
Licensed real estate agents have access to the local MLS in California, and working with an agent is typically how sellers get their house on the MLS. To save money in realtor fees, sellers can get their home on the MLS for a flat fee by working with one of the best flat fee MLS California companies.
A flat fee MLS company posts sellers' homes on the multiple listing service (MLS) for a lower fee compared to what a real estate agent charges. However, flat fee MLS companies don't offer the same array of services as traditional agents, though some companies offer additional services. These services can include listing support or a comparative market analysis.