Any Cloud Brokerages that Do Not Require You to Join a MLS?

27 Replies

I got my license to write my own offers on my own rental properties I buy. I have no intention to represent sellers or buyers, or ever list a property. No need for the MLS.

Including the cloud brokers like REAL and EXP Realty- all the brokerages I've researched so far require to join a local MLS & NAR. As a company policy, not law. My local MLS comes out to $966 per year! It bundles CAR membership. I have no need.

Any brokerages you know of that don't require MLS membership?

Never heard of a brokerage that doesnt require you to join an MLS. Keep in mind your other associated costs with being an agent. Licensing fees, CE classes, E&O insurance, general business liability insurance, sentrilock/suprakey fees, board association, etcc. Its costly to maintain a real estate license.

Also keep in mind if you are not a member of your local board, you can not use their forms. They are copyrighted material that is licensed for use to their members.

Having access to the MLS and your lockbox key will allow you to search for properties in real time and gain access/entry when you want to view. Don't you find that of value when working as your own Realtor?

Also, having the ability to write offers, e-sign them and put together offer packages with all the forms you need....isn't that a value?

Sure, you are going to be getting/saving the Realtor commision, but in order to do that, you need to spend the investment into the Real Estate supplies that get you there.

Suggest you find on your own and have a licensed realtor to represent you.  Possibly get a referral commission but the agent can only pay to your broker. So you need to find a brokerage no way to get around.

Originally posted by @Cara Lonsdale :

Having access to the MLS and your lockbox key will allow you to search for properties in real time and gain access/entry when you want to view. Don't you find that of value when working as your own Realtor?

Also, having the ability to write offers, e-sign them and put together offer packages with all the forms you need....isn't that a value?

Sure, you are going to be getting/saving the Realtor commision, but in order to do that, you need to spend the investment into the Real Estate supplies that get you there.

Thanks, I am certainly aware of the MLS benefits and agree. But I'm only curious about Brokerages that Do Not Require you to Join a MLS.

Originally posted by @Mike Miller :
Originally posted by @Cara Lonsdale:

Having access to the MLS and your lockbox key will allow you to search for properties in real time and gain access/entry when you want to view. Don't you find that of value when working as your own Realtor?

Also, having the ability to write offers, e-sign them and put together offer packages with all the forms you need....isn't that a value?

Sure, you are going to be getting/saving the Realtor commision, but in order to do that, you need to spend the investment into the Real Estate supplies that get you there.

Thanks, I am certainly aware of the MLS benefits and agree. But I'm only curious about Brokerages that Do Not Require you to Join a MLS.

 But I guess my question to you is why would you NOT want to have those resources?  How are you planning on finding the house?  Viewing the house?  Making an offer on the house?

To answer your exact question, the only way that I know of to become an agent (not a Realtor, because you have to be a member of the board to call yourself a Realtor), would be to become a broker yourself.  In most states you need 3 years experience as an agent under another broker to accomplish this.

While it is rare, there are situations where a Broker is not a member of an MLS. There are small communities in Texas where the 3 or 4 small brokerages in town just keep a list between themselves or have created a Facebook group among themselves to promote their listings.

I have run across a few Brokers over the years that just worked with buyers in the purchase of HUD/VA foreclosures and were not Realtors and therefore not members of a Board/MLS

However, in any MLS that I have been involved with if the Broker is a member of the MLS, all of their agents are also required to be members. So while it is possible, to me the $1500 or so in fees is well worth the cost

@Mike Miller , if you are getting a California real estate salesperson license, you will have to hang that license with a broker. When you hang your license with the broker, you bring on certain liability as a salesperson, even if you're not representing any principals. So, you will almost inevitably have to pay certain fees, like insurance, licensing fees, and continuing education fees. As to MLS fees, generally, those fees are rolled in with the fees to join NAR, California Association of Realtors, and local real estate association (although some associations offer MLS only subscriptions). You will have to check your local association as to whether they have a non-MLS membership.

All of that said though, how do you plan to write your own offers on your own rental properties? In other words, what forms or documents will you use for your purchase agreement, disclosures, reports, statements, and all the other complicated documents that go into a California real estate transaction? Because you will not have access to the transaction forms usually used by California Realtors that come with membership in CAR, unless you join NAR, CAR, and the local real estate association. Then, at that point, why not just join the MLS for a few hundred dollars more and have access to comps and tax data?

@Mike Miller . How many properties are you planning on buying a year? Since this is such an expensive area I assume it is not a lot. Have you ever tried submitting an offer as an unrepresented buyer? Not all sellers and/or their agents will go for it, but some do. You can agree to represent yourself and reduce your offer by the percentage that the buyer's agent would get. You can disclosure that you have a real estate license but are representing yourself as a principal. This may give the seller/agent more trust that you know what you are doing. 

@Mike Miller   Look for a broker that is not a Realtor.  Realtor Associations attempt to force their broker members to require all their sponsored agents to pay for the services they offer.  Generally the only thing people can opt out of is the political contributions.

@Mike Miller

You don’t need a license to submit offers...

However, since you got yours already...
There is a scenario where you can hang your license and not join an mls. There a many agents that are just investors and they don’t want or need to be in the mls.

The problem is how you set it up. If you strip it down too much, you can only earn a referral fee but not actually do any transactions.

You have to talk to a few offices and see what they can do for you as an investor.

@Mike Miller Are you planning to purchase properties in the bay area? If so, you'll want access to the MLS for disclosures and agent specific information not available to the public. Since most properties on the market here have inspections and a disclosure packet up front, it will be difficult to get those documents without MLS access.

As for brokerages, I don't know of any in the bay area that would take on an agent without requiring them to join the MLS community. Most brokerages I interviewed and know of don't even take on part-time agents because it is such a liability if you are not educated on the ever-changing laws and forms and you do something wrong within a transaction. The liability always falls on the brokerage first, so most wouldn't take on that risk.

@Mike Miller

I had the name of one brokerage in California, that doesn't require MLS membership or Realtor membership, in my notes for some research I had done for a venture I'm involved in. They advertise MLS Only memberships, but as memory serves, there is no requirement to join an MLS. Haven't done business with them, so I can't vouch for them, but their website is http://reebrokerservices.com.

I don't require my agents to join NAR and in fact dropped my membership when I opened my own brokerage.

If the situation made sense, I wouldn't necessarily require an agent to join MLS, but it's such a basic tool of the trade, I can't imagine someone who is active in the business going without it.

Originally posted by @Mike Miller :

I got my license to write my own offers on my own rental properties I buy. I have no intention to represent sellers or buyers, or ever list a property. No need for the MLS.

Including the cloud brokers like REAL and EXP Realty- all the brokerages I've researched so far require to join a local MLS & NAR. As a company policy, not law. My local MLS comes out to $966 per year! It bundles CAR membership. I have no need.

Any brokerages you know of that don't require MLS membership?

You can have your license held by a holding company. From 2005 - 2013 that is what I did. It was $100 a year and I was not required to join the MLS.

To earn a commission you have to be a member of the MLS unless the agent agrees in writing to pay you a compensation before the showing. My first two properties I bought while not being a member of the MLS and earned a commission. Luckily I was in a buyer's market at the time, but about 75% of agents did not even respond to me and I could not set up appointments online because I was not a MLS member. So I possibly missed out on deals because I couldn't get the appointment.

As far as the brokerage, I own my own company and I can tell you it is a requirement that every agent under me joins the local board, state board, and national board as well as pays the MLS dues. If I bring on an agent who does not join, I get billed for it and all my agents memberships gets suspended if the balance is past due.

Originally posted by @Mike Miller :

I got my license to write my own offers on my own rental properties I buy. I have no intention to represent sellers or buyers, or ever list a property. No need for the MLS.

Including the cloud brokers like REAL and EXP Realty- all the brokerages I've researched so far require to join a local MLS & NAR. As a company policy, not law. My local MLS comes out to $966 per year! It bundles CAR membership. I have no need.

Any brokerages you know of that don't require MLS membership?

 Hi Mike,

I don't know the specific answer to your question, but the dirt cheap bare minimum 'online' brokerage that I've seen a lot of people use, after spinning their wheels and doing a bunch of research, is these guys.

To align expectations: you get what you pay for, which in your case may end up being 100% perfectly fine.

@Mike Miller I was looking into this recently as well for CA. As far as what you are asking, it will be very tough, and probably impossible. I signed up as a referral agent only, I cannot buy or sell property (doesn't matter if you are representing only representing yourself or not). I do not have to pay for the MLS or my local Realtor association.

You're right in that it is not CA law, but you can't blame the companies either. It is dictated by business. If you are buy and selling in any sense, then you are required to join your local Realtor Association (think of them as an HOA, you don't want to join or pay, but you have to or they will serve their own fines).

So you can weigh everything out. Suggestion if you don't want to join and pay all those fees, just become a referral agent. If you find a property that you like, approach the listing agent and have them represent you, but ask them for a referral fee. That way you can still get an additional discount, you have them do the work so no liabilities, and you shouldn't have to worry about those fees. If you are interested in going that route then let me know, I can refer you to the one I joined.

Best of luck

Thanks guys! This has given me a lot to think about. To try to reply to everyone's post:

-How I find my properties without the MLS: I have been finding my properties for the past 4 years without EVER using an agent or MLS. Lots of methods and resources. It's always been off-market too.

-Obtaining disclosures/reports: I have never had trouble getting copies of disclosures and inspections, agents/sellers will just send it to me when I ask.

-What Form would I use without being a NAR member: That is a good point, I suppose I could join NAR, and just not the MLS. The MLS is the larger cost of the two that I truly don't need.

-Hanging my license as a referral agent: But then I can not write my own offers, only refer. But as Daniel Y mentioned, I could just ask someone to represent me and request a referral fee. At least get something extra from it. Perhaps I will go that route.

One of the reasons I wanted to get my license is that some of the properties I find off-market  have an agent representing the seller. They almost always refuse to accept any offer form other than the Association of Realtor forms.
I once had to scramble to find an agent to represent me on a time sensitive deal, but the agent demanded to view the property herself first before writing my offer. I then went to find another agent, but by that time, the seller accepted another offer. If I had a license, I could have done it myself and moved much quicker. I also could take 2.5% from the transaction.