MLS - Multiple Listing Service

By now you have probably heard the term "MLS" and you have probably seen several references to the MLS or the Multiple Listing Service. So, what is the MLS?

Definition: Multiple Listing Service- An MLS is an organization that collects, compiles and distributes information about homes listed for sale by its members, who are real estate brokers. Membership is NOT open to the general public, although selected MLS data may be sold to real estate listing websites. MLSs are local or regional. There is no one MLS covering the whole country.

Why do brokers belong to an MLS service?

By belonging to an MLS service brokers expose their company listings to participating brokers and agents of other real estate companies. If a participating broker brings a buyer to a listed property, the listing broker agrees to pay a commission split to the cooperating broker and/or agent. The benefits to this type of arrangement are obvious.

Do all brokers belong to an MLS service?

No. It is not a requirement for brokers to belong to an MLS service. There are actually many real estate companies that choose NOT to belong to an MLS service.

How many MLS services are there?

There are hundreds of multiple listing services across the county. Most local services are run by their local Board of Realtors. The local boards determine the requirements to belong to and to participate in their MLS. It is actually quite common to have overlapping multiple listing services in a particular area. For example, their may be a county MLS in your area and also a local service as well. Having more than one MLS can be problematic for brokers. Their is generally an annual fee to belong to an MLS. Having to belong to more than one service can be costly. Therefore, many brokers generally choose one service. This can create a problem for sellers in that their listing may only get exposure to a select group of participating brokers.

So what does all this mean?

To Sellers:

The MLS continues to be one of the best ways to expose you home to buyers who are actively searching for a home, but remember, the only was to get your home listed in a broker MLS is to hire a real estate agent. This can be an expensive option because brokers charge between 6% and 7% commission. However, it is now possible to list your home in the MLS by paying a flat fee. By using a flat fee broker you can cut the commission in half! The internet has changed the face of the real estate transaction the same way it has changed many other aspects of our lives. Real estate brokers are finding they have to offer new ways to sell real estate to keep up with the changes. This has created great opportunities for home sellers. In addition, "For Sale By Owner" MLS services are now available on the internet that function much the same way as a brokers MLS and they allow the general public to list their properties without having to hire a real estate agent. As time goes on buyers and sellers are becoming increasingly aware of the options available to them. It is only a matter of time before most people discover they can buy or sell a home on the internet without enlisting the services of an agent.

To Buyers:

Prior to the popularity of the internet, the only way to see a home for sale in your local MLS was to hire a real estate agent or broker to provide you with their proprietary information that only they could subscribe to. That has changed! It is now possible to search most broker multiple listing services right on the internet. In addition, most broker MLS services now upload their MLS data to national broker MLS websites like , , and making it even easier to find listed properties for sale without having to wait for a real estate agent to get the information to you. For Sale By Owner MLS sites have also provided a way for sellers to list their homes nationally without an agent. By saving one-half of the commission using a flat fee mls listing or all of the commission by selling FSBO, sellers can offer their properties at a reduced price compared to broker listed propertes which benefits the buyer as well.

Summing it all up

The MLS is still a great and beneficial way to sell your home or search for homes for sale. It provides a seller with exposure to buyers working with brokers and agents. Broker MLS data is now available nationally through MLS websites. But, it is not the only way, there are also new listing options available to sellers including flat fee MLS listings as well as a For Sale By Owner MLS listing. Buyers and sellers now have more options than ever when it comes to buying or selling a home.


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