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Home Buying 101: What is the MLS?

Updated: Jan 6, 2023

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, you have probably come across “MLS,” or the multiple listing service. So what is the MLS? It is basically a huge database of home listings, but there are many more features than just that. Here is a quick guide to help you understand the MLS and how it can help you in your real estate ventures.

History of MLS

In the late 19th century, real estate brokers routinely met at the offices of their local associations to exchange information about properties they were trying to sell. Agreements were then forged to compensate other brokers who helped sell those properties, creating first MLS, based on a core idea that's unique to organized real estate: Help me sell my listings and I'll help you sell yours. This in-person networking eventually evolved into the digital MLS.

Today, while the MLS is often thought of as a large national database, it is actually a suite of approximately 700 regional databases. Each regional MLS hosts its own listings and real estate agents pay dues to access and list their homes on each. This is why real estate agents who want to obtain a larger reach for their clients will join more than one MLS.

How MLS Works

Sellers can’t directly post their homes on MLS because access to the database is limited to licensed real estate agents and brokers who pay for a membership. Once they have a new listing, agents obtain all the necessary info needed to post the property on the site on their client’s behalf.

When a real estate agent logs into the MLS, they have access to a multitude of data that they can share with their clients or data that can be used to just help them earn more business. Within MLS, agents are able to upload and download documents like HOA regulations and seller disclosures.

Benefits of the MLS

The MLS gives real estate agents more exposure and provides the real estate agents representing a buyer with many property options. In return, both of the agents receive commission on the sale.

Having properties listed on MLS is a huge benefit in that a majority of buyers go to the internet first to perform their home search. The MLS gives real estate agents a leg up on agents who do not have access to the MLS. The MLS also contains private contact info and details about showing times. This can help an agent save time and effort because everything they need is on the MLS.

The concept of the MLS is generic and typically means that real estate agents will get together with other agents in their local markets to create their own MLSs and will allow real estate agents from other markets to view them as needed.

If you are ready to list your home, I can help. Contact me today to discuss your goals for the sale of your home and I can personally list your home on the MLS for maximum exposure. I look forward to helping you sell your home!


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