What is the MLS?
Guest post from Marc Rasmussen – Lido Key Condos
I was writing an email this morning to a new potential client from England explaining how our real estate system works in the United States. Over in Europe it is typical for a buyer to work with several Realtors because each agent may only work a certain geographic area. If the buyer is looking in several areas they have to hire several agents to see all available property. They don’t use a central database to access all available properties for sale.
The point of my email was to explain how it worked over here and that it was unnecessary to hire multiple Realtors. I always have this conversation with Europeans because I have been burned by this before. But, that is the subject of another blog post.
The reason people only really need to hire one good Realtor is because we use (in most but not all) markets what is known as the MLS or Multiple Lising Service.
Multiple Listing Service
An MLS is basically a service that enables real estate Brokers to establish offers of compensation (commission) between brokers, facilitates cooperation with other brokers in an effort to market their listings, provides valuable information to enable appraisals for ease in valuing property and is a central database that stores information about real estate to serve broker’s clients, customers and the public.
In a nutshell the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a central database that participating real estate brokers and agents use to share information about properties and establish commissions. Most of these databases are now on computer. Years ago before the internet large books were published that displayed available properties for sale.
Here in Sarasota, Florida we use the Mid-Florida MLS which is one of the largest databases in the country. It encompasses properties over a large section of Florida. We used to have our own Sarasota MLS like many areas but that changed a few years ago.
Marketing Your Home
The MLS is really the number one marketing tool for a Realtor. It is more valuable than a busy internet site, print advertisement, open houses, direct mail and all other marketing tools that Realtors use. When a property is listed in the MLS system thousands (depending on your market size) of Realtor instantly have access and information about this property. Typically the MLS contains multiple photographs, square footage, bedrooms, bathrooms, age, agent remarks and most other information that a potential buyer may want to know about the property. Since most MLS’s are on the internet now this information is disseminated very quickly.
If you are looking to sell your home make sure you hire a Realtor that is a participating member of the MLS system. You really hinder your chances when your home is not listed in this powerful database.
When you visit a Realtor’s website and look at properties for sale you are probably not using the MLS system directly. Many agent websites claim that you are searching the MLS but most likely you are searching an IDX or VOW system which is essentially a database with limited information pulled from the MLS. Either way it is a great way to find your next home or help you measure up your competition if you are looking to sell.
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