A Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is an online platform with the largest inventory and most data for homes on sale in a specific area — for example, your city or neighborhood.
There isn't just one MLS. According to the Real Estate Standards Organization, there are 550+ MLS platforms that serve different states and counties across the U.S.
Your local real estate brokers and agents work together to create and maintain their own regional MLS, which they use to make the home selling and purchasing process more seamless.
Read on to learn how a Multiple Listing Service works and why it is a valuable tool for home sellers, buyers, and realtors.
How Does an MLS Operate?
Real estate professionals use an MLS to exchange and find information about houses on the market in their area.
They then collaborate to link home buyers with sellers using this information, and when a real estate transaction is completed, they profit by receiving a commission.
Here is a simple breakdown of how an MLS would be used in a home sale.
When you decide to sell your house, you'll probably contact a real estate broker or agent who will ask for access to the property to gather data to create a listing.
The agent will post the listing on a Multiple Listing Service that covers the area you live. It will have key information, including the home's size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, asking price, unique features, and high-quality photos of the exterior and interior that will draw buyers in.
An MLS listing can also contain the listing agent's notes, including directions for viewings, disclosures like the home has outdated appliances, and the agent's direct contact details so buyers' agents can easily get in touch with them.
It is important to note here that as a homeowner, you can't independently post a listing on an MLS because access to these platforms is often restricted to licensed real estate agents, who pay membership fees to be able to list and view properties on an MLS.
That said, there are firms you can pay to get your listing posted on the MLS if you're a for-sale-by-owner (FSBO).
Other local real estate agents who have paid for the Multiple Listing Service will view your house listing once it goes live. The realtors will show the property listing to potential buyers they're working with if it fits their search criteria, and if they're interested in the house, they'll schedule a showing.
If a buyer falls in love with the home after seeing it in person, talks to purchase it can start. Ideally, this results in a sale.
How Does an MLS Benefit Home Sellers and Buyers?
As a home seller or buyer, you must work with a licensed real estate agent who is a member of MLS to profit from its features.
The agent will give you free access to the MLS, including information on home listings that is not available to the general public. This access to a Multiple Listing Service will help you in several ways, including:
Pricing Your Home Correctly
Overpricing a home is the most common error made by home sellers, and it often leads to a property staying on the market longer than it should.
An MLS not only provides details about the homes currently up for sale in your neighborhood, it also has data about properties that have recently sold there.
You and your real estate agent can determine a reasonable asking price for your property that appeals to potential buyers and ensures you don't leave money on the table by looking at prices of almost identical properties to yours that have sold in your vicinity recently (often 90-130 days).
Increasing Your Home's Visibility
Your home's prospects of finding a buyer greatly increase when your real estate agent lists it on an MLS, making it instantly available to hundreds of local real estate agents and brokers who subscribe to the Multiple Listing Services.
Houses listed on MLSs are also automatically added to several public-accessible third-party listing websites, including Zillow, RE/MAX, Rocket Homes, and Realtor.com. This also boosts the likelihood that a sizable audience of prospective buyers will see your home.
Selling Your House Quickly and for More Money
An MLS attracts serious buyers who are actively working with real estate professionals to find their ideal homes.
These buyers are often pre-approved for financing and eager to purchase a home. Tapping into this pool of qualified buyers by listing your property on an MLS can help you sell your home faster.
Real estate brokers and agents with access to an MLS are also more likely to have buyers who are prepared to pay more for a home that meets their needs. These buyers could engage in a bidding war to ensure they're the ones who purchase your home, which can result in you selling your property for a higher price.
Provides Access to an Extensive Inventory of Properties for Sale
According to the National Association of Realtors, over 85% of homes sold in the United States are listed on MLSs.
Some sellers also opt to only list their properties on an MLS, making them exclusively available to buyers working with a real estate agent.
So, as a prospective home buyer, Multiple Listing Services can give you a full picture of what's for sale and provide you with the largest pool of homes to choose from within your preferred neighborhood, budget, and specific requirements.
This can be a huge time-saver, as it eliminates the need to search through multiple property platforms to find available homes in an area or drive around looking for "For Sale" signs.
Accurate and Up-To-Date Home Information
There are many popular public real estate websites, including Zillow, where you can view listings from different regional MLSs.
These listings, however, don't always provide the most recent details about a property. For instance, a home you want can be posted as available on Zillow but actually be in escrow or already sold.
Real estate experts frequently update and maintain MLS listings, ensuring homebuyers have the latest property information. This eliminates the frustration of encountering outdated or already sold listings.
Multiple Listing Services also provide a lot more data than the majority of real estate websites. For example, a typical MLS offers more than 300 fields of information and images about houses that are for sale, but Zillow has 50–80.
The fact that posting false or incorrect information about a home on an MLS can result in fines for realtors also helps make these platforms have the most accurate listings.
Additionally, unlike real estate websites, an MLS offers confidential information relevant to agents and their clients. For example, an MLS may provide the seller's contact information and times a house is open for showings. To protect the seller's privacy and prevent burglaries, this information cannot be made available to the general public.
HomeBuyers of Pittsburgh: The #1 Professional Home Buyer
Are you thinking about selling your home? If so, you might be wondering how you can sell it at a fair market price quickly and without stress. One option is to work with a reputable cash home-buying company like HomeBuyers of Pittsburgh.
HomeBuyers of Pittsburgh has been buying and selling homes in the Pittsburgh area for over 10 years and can provide you with a fast and hassle-free solution to sell your home for cash.
We employ a simple three-step process that could enable you to close on your home in as little as 7 days, without having to do any repairs on the property or pay any selling fees.
But that's not all! HomeBuyers of Pittsburgh is also your go-to resource if you're a buyer searching for your dream home. Our 10+ years of experience in the Pittsburgh real estate market gives us the knowledge and ability to help you quickly find the perfect property that meets your needs and preferences.
To learn more, call us at 412-444-8914 or send an email to info [at] urbanpgh.com. We look forward to hearing from you and assisting you achieve your Pittsburgh real estate goals!