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Your Guide to Understanding MLS and How It Functions in Real Estate

You may have come along the term “MLS” many times if you are seeking to buy or sell a home. MLS is a vital tool in the process of selling or purchasing houses, which is why you should take the time to understand it.

The meaning of MLS is multiple listing service. It is an extensive, private database of home listings that facilitates real estate agents and brokers to connect with clients who need to sell their homes and prospective buyers. This service was invented in the late 1800s, whereby real estate agents and brokers gathered at meetings or offices to share information about properties available for sale. It was noticed that the cooperation between real estate agents and brokers was highly effective for their clients, and it has kept on evolving until today. Currently, the MLS is an online, fully searchable system that provides for agents to search for homes by neighborhood, price, and features.

Instead of being a single national system, the MLS is comprised of about 800 local databases. The access to MLS is limited to licensed real estate brokers and agents who pay membership fees. As a real estate agent, you can become a member of more than one MLS, and this will provide you with access to different regions. What the real estate agents access is a large amount of detailed data that they can pass along to their clients. This information can include such details as amounts of bedrooms, square footage, photos, HOA regulations, seller disclosures, the contact information of the seller, and when the home is available for work on showings. The reason why this information is not available to the public is that it can include information that could endanger the safety or privacy of the seller. High-profile sellers who need to avoid publicity go for pocket listings, which makes their homes available for purchase only by people that the real estate agent works with directly.

Some people opt for listing their homes on for sale by owner sites. This mainly happens when one wants to avoid paying commissions to real estate agents. However, your local MLS listing is the largest and most accurate database compared to for sale by owner platforms.

You can list your home on the MLS without having to hire a full-service realtor. You can pay a flat listing fee to a state licensed real estate broker to list your home on the database for you and make adjustments when needed. Such listings will provide your name and contact details as the point of contact for offers and showings. You can also opt for discount brokers who charge lower commissions but do not offer the personal service that full-service real estate agents provide.

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