MLS Guide

MLS is an acronym for multiple listing service. Every home for sale listed by a real estate agent, unless it is specifically exempted from MLS, will be listed in MLS. However, only real estate agents and other professional affiliates can access MLS, but that doesn’t mean a home buyer or home seller can’t get the same information — just not directly.

There are many different MLS systems in effect throughout the USA. However, they are all based on the same concepts. It is just the program which is different.

What is MLS?
MLS is a sharing of comprehensive home information among real estate professionals. Listings brokers enter the data about a home for sale and offer to share the commission with a broker who brings a buyer. It’s a cloud based program that contains all the specifics about a home, including the address, age, square footage, number of bedrooms, baths, upgrades and schools districts, to types of financing the seller will consider, and more. There are usually photographs of the home, plus a link to a virtual tour, or single property website, if one exists.

Home buyers make the mistake of believing they can access this information through online feeds to other services, but the data the public can receive is:
• Limited in scope
• Can be outdated
• Often inaccurate

For Sale By Owners in MLS
While there is no separate category for a For Sale by Owner (or FSBO) listing, the MLS can contain listings from sellers who are unrepresented.
• The way FSBOs circumvent some MLS restrictions is to pay a flat fee to a discount real estate broker to enter the information, but the seller is not really represented.
• Instructions to present all offers directly to the seller is often frowned upon or prohibited by MLS authorities.
• Sometimes the selling commission is less than the fee agents are offered by traditional brokers — which does not motivate agents to show these listings, even though they cannot legally refuse to do so.

Who Owns the MLS?

The trend is leaning toward local MLS companies joining or merging with other local MLS companies to create regional MLS services. MLS can be privately owned and operated or it can be an affiliate of a local board of Realtors, among other forms of ownership, but most are subject to regulations set forth by the National Association of Realtors.

Back in the ’80s, many MLS were owned by boards of Realtors, but conflict of interests and lawsuits caused many association groups to form a separate entity for MLS. Members of MLS are not required to be a member of their local, state or national Board of Realtors.

Finding MLS Listings

Many services offer to provide home buyers with a list of available homes on the market, but few provide comprehensive data. To get that information, home buyers need to ask a real estate agent to set up a home search. Typically, there are many types of reports a buyer can receive, so buyer must ask the agent for the most comprehensive report, the name of which varies by locale. What buyers don’t want is a customer copy. It’s not enough information.

An agent or their VA, can enter the buyer’s name, e-mail and home search preferences into a search engine on MLS that will send to the buyer automatic e-mails of new listings. This way the buyer will receive up-to-the-minute information that the buyer can’t really get anywhere else.

MLS Searches

If the buyer is beginning a home search, he/she can ask their agent to customize a search for them that will automatically send the buyer updated listings. Not all agents will set up a search for the buyer based on anything other active listings, so if the buyer wants to receive price reductions, pending or sold sales data, they need ask for it.

Here are a few ways (among many) that a buyer can request to have their report customized:
• ZIP Code
• Radius Search, within a specified distance from a target address
• Street
• Condominium Complex or Subdivision

Within those parameters, the buyer can further define their search to:
• Price range from low to high
• Number of bedrooms and baths
• Garages
• Pools and spas
• Square footage

The buyer’s requirements can be even more clearly defined, depending on their priorities. But they need to be aware that as the number of exceptions climb, they might be missing out on opportunities. It’s wise to keep the list somewhat limited, especially for those cases where a data field might not contain data due to human error.

Online MLS Tutorials

Try searching Google for online tutorials of the MLS system you will be using.

One of the tasks a REVA can perform is to search daily for expired listings in the agents preferred “farm” area. Once the expired listing is found, locate the owners name & then search for their phone number. You can use directories like The REVA can then call the Seller of the expired listing, introduce their client and set an appointment for the agent to visit with the Seller and present their services to the Seller. This is an extremely tangible benefit as every sold listing which is obtained by this method is a direct result of the REVA’s efforts.

How to Search For Expired Listing In Metrolist.