What Is the MLS? How Can It Help You as a Buyer or Seller?

Are you searching for your dream home? Do you want to sell your house for top dollar? If the answer is yes to either of these questions, the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) should be a critical part of your strategy.

What is the MLS (Multiple Listing Service)?

The MLS has been the number one tool used to buy and sell real estate for over 100 years. It’s a unique database system used by real estate agents to bring buyers and sellers together.

Today, there are over 700 MLS databases across the country*. Each database includes all of the properties listed for sale by each member real estate agent in a particular region.

*The private databases are paid for and maintained by real estate brokers in each region. An individual MLS can have its own unique policies and rules, but it also complies with the regulations sanctioned by the National Association of Realtors®.

How does the MLS work?

Typically, home sellers agree to pay a percentage of the sale of their home (commission) to the real estate broker they have chosen to help them market and sell their home. In each MLS listing, the seller’s agent designates what percentage of the home sale they will share with an agent that brings a committed buyer to purchase the home.

The MLS is set up so real estate agents benefit from working with each other and their partnering clients to make sure everyone is satisfied. Buyers’ agents want to help buyers find the perfect home and sellers’ agents want to help sellers sell their home quickly at a fair price.

How does the MLS help you buy or sell a home?

How the MLS helps you as a seller

  • You reach more buyers. Over 80% of home buyers use a real estate agent in their home search.1 MLS listing information is available to all member agents in your area, regardless of broker affiliation. When you have access to agents, you have access to the buyers they represent. Simply put, if your property isn’t on the MLS, you aren’t reaching 80% of the market!
  • It helps you price your home right. By using information from all local listings on the MLS, your agent can provide a complete and informed market analysis of your home, including the information you need to price it competitively.
  • Your personal information is kept private. Though much of the information in an MLS home listing is shared with buyers, your contact information, as well as any vacancy information, is kept private and secure.

How the MLS helps you as a buyer

  • You have better access to new property listings. As a buyer, you get the most accurate, up-to-date information on the homes for sale in your area. In a competitive market, quick access to newly listed homes can help you find the home of your dreams! It can take buyers with no access to MLS data much longer to be notified of new property listings.
  • You save time. You don’t waste time looking at houses that don’t fit your needs or desires. Your real estate agent has the ability to narrow your search by neighborhood, school district, style of home, size, number of beds/baths, parking and much more.
  • You can easily compare homes for sale. The MLS makes it easy for you to compare prices and features of different homes. When you’re ready to make an offer, this helps you make an informed decision and ensures you aren’t paying too much for a home.

It’s your choice

Whether you’re buying or selling, the MLS gives you choice. Since the MLS is a shared system among all member real estate brokers in your area, you can partner with any firm you choose, large or small, and still reap the full benefits of the MLS.

Why should you care about the MLS with so many real estate websites out there?

MLS property listings are sometimes syndicated to well-known real estate websites, such as Realtor.com. As a seller, this gives you better exposure to buyers. As a buyer, it provides relevant information about what’s for sale in your area.

Even though some of the listing information from the MLS is available on these websites, the MLS is the most accurate, up-to-date source of listing information. The rules and policies of each MLS adhere to a strict expectation of accuracy and timeliness.

Whether you’re selling or buying a home, the process can feel intimidating and overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to. At Coluzzi Real Estate, we answer all your questions and simplify the process. We’re there for you every step of the way. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today!

If you’re interested in a brief history of the MLS: In the early 1900s, local real estate brokers would meet regularly to share information about properties they were trying to sell. They realized that if they worked together, they could sell their properties more quickly at a good price. Not only that, but they could better satisfy the needs of both buyers and sellers. To ensure fairness and to encourage collaboration, they developed a cooperative system of buying and selling. This system included an agreement to compensate other real estate brokers when they helped sell each other’s properties.


Quick Real Estate Statistics from the National Association of Realtors®


About the Author:

Amanda has lived in the Des Moines area since 1999, where she and her husband have bought and sold a handful of homes over the years, including a recent flip. Amanda enjoys writing, obsesses about personal finance and is fond of looking at houses. She loves sharing useful tips and info to make life easier for anyone wanting to buy or sell a home. In her spare time, Amanda cherishes time with her family, volunteers with IHYC, gardens, hikes, and practices TaeKwonDo. You can read more of her writing at whywemoney.com