what is mls in real estate multiple listing service property list

If you’ve looked to purchase a new house anytime in the last 10 years, you’ve likely come across websites such as Zillow, Realtor, or Trulia. They’re terrific sites that give users access to a lot of information on the housing market in their area.

Next, you go to tour the house. When you arrive, the realtor selling the home has a slip of paper called the “MLS”. It has details you weren’t able to find anywhere else.

Why is that? What is the MLS in real estate and why aren’t home buyers privy to it from the get-go? In this article, we’re going to go over how the MLS is used and how you as a real estate agent can access it.

The MLS in Real Estate

The MLS or “Multiple Listing Service” is a database established by real estate brokers with the intention to share data about their properties in the benefit of reaching a wider market and achieving a sale.

The inception of the MLS was in the 1800s when the National Association of Realtors (NAR) wanted to share information between brokers trying to sell property in their local associations. By creating a unified space for information on properties, brokers would compensate other brokers who could then market and sell those distant properties.

Accessing Your Local MLS

Today there are over 800 MLSs. Often, a national MLS is actually pulling from several of these regional MLSs. In the digital age, this is crucial, as this information is made available to licensed agents to benefit both buyers and sellers.

Sellers get exposure for their property. Buyers become privy to information they didn’t have access to elsewhere.

And that’s because the broad public doesn’t have access to the MLS. Only licensed agents and brokers have access to the MLS.

If you’re an agent, you’ll likely pay membership fees for upkeep and access to the MLS. This provides you with benefits such as personal contact information for the seller and details about showing times.

It also shows agents the commission rates for the seller and can include information about certain features of the home that might not be relevant or “pretty” for consumer-accessible real estate sites. Use this information to help your buyers make an informed decision on their purchase.

There are handy tools to connect agents to the swath of MLS too. If you’re selling in California, here’s a link to a browser plugin that connects you to over 30 different MLS.

Who Benefits From the MLS?

Everyone wins with the MLS. Exposure to a seller’s property is vital in hot markets, while buyers want to make smart purchases.

Because brokers work together by sharing this information, each gets a cut of the commission.

Perhaps most importantly is that the MLS levels the playing field for brokerages both big and small. With everyone having access to the same information, even small brokers can sell the hottest properties, if they find the perfect buyer.

There’s always competition in the market, but because both brokers involved receives a cut of the commission, the MLS benefits the buyers and sellers the most.

A Win-Win-Win

That’s what the MLS in real estate provides. Brokers want to succeed in their careers, buyers want a deal, and sellers want to know they’ve gotten a great price on their property.

If you enjoyed this article or want to know more about real estate, click our “Real Estate” tab for articles on how to become a licensed agent and more.

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