Real Estate Vocabulary 101: Multiple Listing Service (MLS)

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What is an MLS?

A multiple listing service (otherwise known as the MLS) is a historical database of real estate listings.  It contains not only active listings (listings for sale), but also listings that have been sold or cancelled.  It is the most reliable source for receiving current listing information.

There are many MLS databases throughout the US and individual states – over 800 per the National Association of Realtors!

With so many MLS databases out there, how does a real estate professional navigate them?

Real estate professionals pay to have access to the local MLS(s) that cover their business area.  This allows them to focus on the specific geographical area that they are working in.

There are sometimes tools within an MLS that allows limited access to other area’s information in the state or US.  This gives agents the ability to search outside of their area in order to help their clients more.  Depending on the access that the outside MLS allows and the need of the client, these tools can range from being very helpful to not much help at all.

How does the local MLS help real estate professionals?

Being part of a local MLS allows different levels of access based on the type of membership.  Most real estate agents will have access to the database as well as access to show properties in the covered area.  This access helps real estate professionals in doing their job at working for you as their client.

In the state of Texas, licensed real estate agents are allowed to sell real estate in any area of the state that they are competent in.  However, since most of the areas are switching to digital key boxes, membership is usually required in order to have access to be able to show the houses in a specific MLS area.  If the agent does not have access to unlock the digital key box, the agent will need to make other arrangements to gain access and show the property.

What is the benefit of the local MLS for you…

…as the seller?

The local MLS allows a real estate agent to search for properties that are similar to yours and determine a potential selling price for your house.  By doing this, you’ll also be able to find out if there are any updates or changes that can be made to your house to bring its value up to get a better price. (add in link for comparables blog)

It also will allow your agent to input your listing into the system that will then display to all other agents in the system to know that your house is on the market.  And, in most cases, will send out an email to potential buyers that a house has hit the market if your house matches their buying criteria.

…as the buyer?

The local MLS allows a real estate agent to search for homes that meet your needs and specific criteria.  Then you can choose which ones to go and see after reviewing the matches.  Your agent will have access to be able to schedule your showings through the MLS based on internal notes on the listing, and then show your choices to you.

Once you choose a house to make an offer on, the same info that is helpful for sellers to get the best list price for their house, works in reverse for you.  Searching out sold properties that are similar to the one you’re wanting to make the offer on, helps determine the best offer price for you to make on your new home.

For more details/info on the multiple listing service – check out the info below.

NAR – https://www.nar.realtor/nar-doj-settlement/multiple-listing-service-mls-what-is-it

Realtor.com – https://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/what-is-the-mls-multiple-listing-service/

Zillow.com – https://www.zillow.com/agent-resources/blog/what-is-an-mls/

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