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What Is The MLS and Why Is It Important?


illustration of two keys that represent finding a house

Did you know that houses are usually on the market for around 38 days before they get sold? If you’re getting ready to sell your home, you know how important it is to get it in front of as many people as possible. In addition to selling your home faster, you might get more than you listed your home for. 

Many realtors use a multiple listing service (MLS) as one of their marketing tools. But you might be wondering, “what is the MLS?” The MLS is a tactic that an experienced real estate agent will employ to attract motivated buyers and get you an excellent offer for your house. 

This guide will discuss everything you need to know about the MLS. You’ll also discover why it’s essential for your realtor to use it when they sell your home. 

What Is the MLS?

So, what is the MLS in real estate? MLSs are private databases that are maintained by those in the real estate industry. This can include brokers and agents. They use these databases to help their clients sell and buy homes

Many people think the MLS was invented in modern times, but that’s not entirely true. In the late 1800s, real estate agents would get together at conferences or offices. They would trade information about homes they needed to sell, hoping they could connect with buyers. 

After the turn of the century, the phrase “multiple listing” was coined. The term became more widely used in the 1920s. Information sharing between real estate professionals has continued to expand over the years. 

Real estate organizations have developed the MLS technology to make selling and buying homes more efficient and accessible. The technology benefits both buyers and sellers. 

Users can search for condos, single-family homes, international properties, and foreclosures in the MLS databases. You might be able to find rental properties as well. 

What Is an MLS Listing?

Have you wondered, “what is a multiple listing?” Home sellers can’t post their houses on the MLS. Access to the MLS database is limited to licensed brokers and agents who pay membership fees. 

A licensed individual must post an MLS listing with an account. Once a broker or agent has a client ready to sell their home, they get the pertinent details from them. These details can include:

  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Square footage 
  • Photos of the property 
  • Location 
  • Other details

The licensed professional posts an MLS listing onto the database. When agents or brokers log in, they can access all the listings in the database. They can use this information to help their clients find a house to buy. They can also use the data to help them be more strategic in their business. 

How Is the MLS Different Than Other Services?

You’ll often find the same information in the MLS as you would in another real estate portal. However, the MLS has other details you might not be able to access. This includes the listing agent’s contact information. 

Another thing you can find on the MLS is tax records about the property. Tax records are public information, but it can take a lot of time to track them down. 

The MLS puts all of this information in one spot. It makes it easy for agents and brokers to help their clients.

Additionally, updates to the MLS happen in real-time. Updating a real estate website might lag and take a while to update. You might see a home for sale that’s actually under contract. 

Pulling information from the MLS ensures you get the most recent version of what’s available. 

Are the MLS Listings Accurate?

The MLS database is thought to be the most accurate for property details. Some rules are enforced for listings. Members that don’t follow the rules can get fined. 

One of the rules is timeliness. A new listing has to be uploaded to the MLS within a specific timeframe. 

Members have around 24-48 hours to post a listing on the MLS once a contract has been signed with their client. Failing to do so results in a fine. 

Another rule is accuracy. The MLS association requires that every detail be accurate. This includes the location and square footage. 

Having the right amount of high-quality photos is another rule for the MLS. However, the specifics of this rule are different between the various MLSs. 

How Many Different MLSs Are There?

There are almost 600 MLSs in the United States. The number of MLSs tends to fluctuate sense the MLS regions split and merge. It’s challenging to keep an accurate count of how many there are. 

How Does MLS Define the Geographical Boundaries?

There isn’t a set of rules for the geographic areas that the MLS covers. In some locations, the MLS will cover an entire or part of a metropolitan area. In other scenarios, it’ll cover specific neighborhoods. 

Keep in mind that the boundaries don’t overlap. If you find a home listed in one MLS, you won’t find it in another. A broker or agent might be a member of multiple MLSs. That’s because the various MLSs sometimes won’t share listings. 

Is Every Home That’s for Sale on the MLS?

Not every home that’s for sale is listed on the MLS. Homes for sale by the owner usually aren’t on the MLS. That’s because you need a registered MLS member to post the listing. 

Another type of home that might not be on the MLS is a pocket listing. Pocket listings are houses that brokers metaphorically keep “in their pocket.” They only share information and accept offers from select clientele and agents. 

These homes aren’t publicly listed for sale on the MLS or real estate websites. Since they’re “secret listings,” you won’t know if they’re for sale unless your agent is in that select group. 

Can I Look for Homes for Sale on the MLS?

Only members with access to the MLS can browse homes for sale. Your broker or agent can give you access. Once you can access the MLS, you can typically browse for homes, but it depends upon the MLS. 

Your agent or broker can set it up, so you receive a feed of houses that meet your specifications. This feature is helpful if you can’t directly search home listings. 

As a Buyer, Can I Create an MLS Account?

Buyers can’t create MLS accounts unless they have a real estate license number. You need to have that to create an MLS account. You’ll also have to pay dues to continually access the MLS. 

Most real estate companies include a live MLS feed on their website. Once a property is added to the MLS, it will appear on their website. 

What Are the Benefits of the MLS?

The MLS provides advantages for both buyers and sellers. Let’s discuss some of the most common ones. 

Access to Information 

An MLS listing includes a wealth of information for agents and brokers. In addition to finding out information about the property, members can access documents and other details they might not find anywhere else. Finding that information might be challenging to locate without the MLS. 

Networking

Brokers and agents can network with each other through the MLS. Instead of using their precious time to gather in a physical location to share information, they can do the same, all from the comfort of their office. Networking makes it more straightforward for listing agents to find buyers for their client’s properties. 

Increased Exposure

If you’re selling your home, there’s no better way to increase the exposure of your home than an MLS listing. Potential buyers can access everything they need to know from your listing. A buyer’s agent can search for homes that include the features their clients want, helping them find their dream home more quickly. 

What Is the Best Flat Fee MLS Listing Service?

While you need a real estate license to create an MLS account, you can utilize a flat-fee MLS listing service. A flat-fee MLS listing service is an excellent option if you want to sell your home without hiring a real estate agent. This listing service will list your house for you on the MLS. 

The help from a flat-fee MLS listing service will typically end there. It’s up to you to market and promote your home to find buyers. However, for additional fees, you can purchase further assistance.

Some of these additional services might include:

  • Help with contracts or closing
  • Yard signs
  • Professional photographers

The appeal of using this type of service is the savings you might get since you won’t have to pay a commission to your agent. You will have to devote more time and effort to marketing your home. 

Some flat-fee MLS listing services include:

  • FSBO.com
  • ISoldMyHouse.com

Remember that attempting to sell your house yourself is a huge undertaking. You might sell your home for less than it’s worth because you don’t have professional guidance. That’s why using services like iBuyer is recommended. 

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve covered “what is the MLS in real estate,” but you might have more questions about how the MLS works. Read on to browse the most frequently asked questions on the topic. 

What Would Happen if There Wasn’t the MLS?

If the MLS system wasn’t invented, real estate agents would have to list houses on their websites. Only those agents would have the information about the home. Agents and brokers would have to scour other websites to find houses for their clients. 

The MLS puts everything in one convenient location. You and your agent don’t have to waste time finding houses for sale. If you’re selling your home, it’ll get more exposure instead of being limited to one location. 

What’s an MLS Number?

Each home listed on the MLS gets assigned a serial number. The serial number makes it easier to find properties and differentiate them from one another. 

How Does It Work?

Each year, brokers and real estate agents pay a fee to be an MLS member. They receive information on homes for sale in their area. MLS listings can only get accessed by licensed brokers and agents. 

What’s the Importance of the MLS?

Buyers and their agents can browse through numerous listings on the MLS. They can find houses for sale that registered agents list. 

Additionally, the MLS includes information they might not find anywhere else. This information could consist of details about upcoming showings or tax records. If the MLS didn’t exist, the buyer’s agent would have to look in multiple locations for the information. 

Does the MLS Have Every Home That’s for Sale?

Most of the homes available on the market are listed on the MLS. Some homes might not ever appear on the MLS. They include:

How Do I Find My MLS?

Your real estate agent or broker can tell you about your local MLS. You can also search for it online. 

What Are the Disadvantages of the MLS?

There aren’t many disadvantages to the MLS. The MLS is incredibly efficient. Many agents and brokers have access to up-to-date information thanks to the MLS. Some people might say that the cost of making an MLS listing is a drawback. 

Partner With iBuyer to Sell Your Home

Hopefully, we’ve answered the question of “what is the MLS?” Selling your home can be a stressful process. Let the experts at iBuyer make it as stress-free and easy as possible. 

At iBuyer, we match sellers to iBuyers in your city. Don’t waste time finding a reputable realtor who’ll get you a fair offer. Get a cash offer for your house with help from iBuyers. 

Are you ready to see how much your home is worth? Find your home’s value and get a cash offer fast. Fill out our online form today.

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