What is a Multiple Listing Service and How it Works

Every experienced realtor will tell you that in order to be successful in the real estate market, you need to collaborate with other professionals from this industry who are as equally skilled and knowledgeable as you are, if not more.
The reality is that sellers need buyers as much as buyers need sellers. As simple as that. But sometimes things can get a bit complicated, which is why this industry needed something that is going to streamline the communication between these two parties.
And that’s why Multiple Listing Service was developed. Namely, it maximizes the potential for real estate agents and brokers two help both sellers and shoppers find each other. But is there anything else that needs to be mentioned concerning MLS? 
There sure is, and today we decided to dig up some useful information that just might help you understand MLS better. 

Everything You Need to Know About MLS

What’s The Connection Between Multiple Listing Service & Real Estate?

An MLS represents a database of all the properties that are ready to be sold in a certain area. Namely, this database is filled with home listings, which provides realtors and their clients with some useful info about every single house on the market.
This form of collaboration has become popular back in the 19th century when real estate agents would talk face-to-face with other professionals from this field so they can exchange information about the homes they were selling.
Of course, things have drastically changed since then, for the better, and these days, this whole process is a lot simpler and occurs instantly, when brokers give provide updates in an online database.
Now, many people think that Multiple Listing Service is a single entity, but that’s actually not the case. In fact, it represents a network of local databases for regions around the country. Additionally, MLS consists of various real estate agents who work in a particular area. 
Furthermore, real estate companies will enumerate all the properties that are for sale they represent on the local Multiple Listing Service, where shopper’s agents can easily find them. 
Now, bear in mind, that the MLS is not publicly available, hence, if you want to access it in your region, then you must be a realtor working under a licensed broker that partakes in that particular MLS.
Moreover, real estate agents are allowed only to sell real estate, and they must collaborate with a broker if they wish to conduct business. 

Why Are Multiple Listing Services Necessary?

In this modern age, practically any buyer can browse the internet, and go through numerous real estate websites to see what's at their disposal. But in spite of all of this, the need for a Multiple Listing Service is still very much in-demand. 
But is still that necessary? The answer is yes. Inventive real estate connoisseurs at Showcase IDX want to accentuate the fact that if a shopper cooperates with a broker who is part of the MLS, then the broker is going to be able to efficiently conduct research of all the houses that are ready to be sold by participating agents. Frequently, Multiple Listing Services can also contain private contact info, as well as all the essential details regarding showing times.
Furthermore, without this extremely effective and fast service, the broker would be forced to look through a variety of different sites to hunt down all available homes in a certain region.

Anything Else You Need to Know About Multiple Listing Service?

Can You Access It Without a Realtor? 

Even though we briefly discussed this above, it doesn’t hurt to go a bit further into detail. Namely, if you’re a homeowner who is trying to sell list your property “for sale by owner”, you are not going to be able to post your house directly to the Multiple Listing Service due to the fact that the access to this database is localized to licensed real estate experts who are already paying for their membership.
Therefore, the only thing that you can do is to find an agent and pay him or her to list on the MLS instead of you. Now, there are some ways you can get access to it without the help of a real estate broker.
What is your option then? Well, you can always collaborate with a flat-fee MLS service, but just keep in mind, that these methods generally come with numerous shortcomings that should be weighed against the cost savings.

What Are the Biggest Benefits Of Multiple Listing Service?

There are many advantages of MLS, but below we will talk about the most important ones. Let’s check them out:

  • Property Information – Real estate brokers, along with real estate agents who are members of Multiple Listing Service can easily gain access to a variety of different useful information related to the properties in the area, like square footage, details, listings, features, and pictures of every single home as well. As was previously mentioned, this type of information can only be seen by the members of the MLS. Generally speaking, this is a huge advantage since this type of info would be hard to put together without a consolidated database. 
  • Zone In – As a shopper, your seller has access to numerous houses at different price points, of various styles and situations. The MLS is going to help your seller efficiently narrow down those homes that he/she thinks would perfectly match your needs. And that's something that is going to save you a lot of time, because, at the end of the day, why would you spend your time looking at three-bedroom properties, when you really need a four-bedroom house? Furthermore, if you're searching for a home that could potentially generate a substantial amount of money, then you'll be able to find that info precisely on the MLS listing
  • Rules and best practices – Those who have been part of the real estate industry for quite some time, will tell you that it can be quite challenging to break into it. This is especially the case if you are not familiar with all the necessary rules and best practices of this industry. Figuring everything out can often be a bit overwhelming, however, a Multiple Listing Service is here to set out all rules and procedures to make things simpler for the real estate experts.
  • Better exposure – Every seller wants to get as much exposure for their home as possible. Now, what's great about the MLS is the fact that it enables more exposure as both realtors and real estate brokers can effectively hunt down the properties that match particular demands. All in all, this entire process is very fast and simple, and a majority of MLS listings consist of contact info and viewing times for houses. Additionally, a Multiple Listing Service lets real estate brokers and agents sell homes much faster and at the same time, help their clients meet all their needs and demands quicker. 
  • Network effects – Another huge positive trait about the MLS is the fact that it enables brokers and realtors to network with each other too. We’ve already talked about it above, when we mentioned how it all started back in the 19th century when brokers and agents would meet at offices of the local association to share beneficial information regarding the properties they were trying to sell. Precisely networking has made things so much simpler and by virtue of it, realtors were able to find a buyer for houses much faster. And that's exactly how Multiple Listing Service was "born". Thanks to it, less experienced real estate agents were given the chance to learn from more skilled and experienced experts when it comes to the local housing market. 
  • Effective Real Estate Markets – It's safe to say that matching sellers and shoppers together more effectively is something that can greatly benefit both parties. Namely, shoppers can easily hunt down the home they've been searching for, and at the same time, sellers can efficiently gain exposure to their house to ensure that they can sell it in a relatively short period of time, and simultaneously, get the best possible price. The data that is shared on an MLS enhances transparency and the overall efficacy of the real estate market, which many perceive as one of the most liquid markets today.

Are There Any Downsides of The Multiple Listing Service?

Those who have used it will tell you that there aren’t actually any downsides to it. The only thing that is perhaps worth mentioning is the fact that some people think that maybe the cost to post on the Multiple Listing Service is the biggest flaw, due to the fact that you must set aside some money to pay for an agent to get your property put into the database.
Other than that, there really isn’t anything negative about it. Generally speaking, MLS is extremely efficient because it offers a plethora of people to gain access to precise market information which is definitely an amazing thing.

Is It Better To Choose Exclusive Or Multiple Listing Service? 

As was previously mentioned, one of the biggest advantages of MLS is the fact that it offers vendors greater exposure for their houses, which is essential if you want to attract more homebuyers.
This is generally perfect for anyone who is trying to sell their property and at the same time, pretty good for those who are on the buying end of things. Now, if you decide to hire a realtor who wants you to list your house exclusively, it means that this real estate agent is not going to list it on Multiple Listing Service, but will do everything alone when it comes to advertising your house.
This means that all potential shoppers will go directly through his/her agency. This leads us to conclude that (for a certain period of time) nobody is going to be able to bring a potential buyer through your house. 
The only person who will be allowed to do so is the real estate agent with whom you have this type of contract. All in all, an exclusive listing can potentially be a good option for sellers, however, if a realtor mentions it, ask him or her what’s the reason behind this suggestion and whether he/she was successful with it in the past. 

Has The Internet Impacted The MLS?

Back in the day, when MLS was first established, real estate brokers were the only ones who were able to gain access to it through various private databases and sources, that weren’t accessible for public display.
And in order for the seller or purchaser to use the Multiple Listing Service he or she was obligated to contact a broker who would then gather all the data on the MLS for their client. But then, things have changed in the 1990s for the better when it comes to the accessibility to MLS.
These days, any real estate buyer, seller, or investor can relatively easily gain access to a variety of different sources that serve to Multiple Listing Service. What's even better is the fact that nowadays, they can extract important data straight from it from the comfort of their homes. 
This is for sure a great thing because it has given more control to real estate investors, which has also decreased the need for both sellers and shoppers to hire real estate agents, or brokers in order to provide them with access to MLS.
But does it mean that real estate agents are no longer needed because of this change? The answer is no. It just goes to show that the main purpose of having a real estate agent by your side has changed from being focused on hunting down the houses, or potential purchasers for homes to serving the role of real estate professionals who offer counsel, or negotiation experts who are now more capable of closing sale deals.

Based on the facts that were provided here, it’s easy to conclude that Multiple Listing Service was developed to make things a lot simpler when it comes to finding houses for sale and for people who want to sell their property.

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