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Understanding MLS and How It Works 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 full definition of MLS is a 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. The origin of the multiple listing service goes back to the 1800s, whereby real estate agents and brokers would gather at conferences and offices to share details about properties for sale. The collaboration was working for them, and it is what has evolved to what it is now. Currently, the MLS is an online, fully searchable system that provides for agents to search for homes by neighborhood, price, and features.

As opposed to being a single national system, the MLS is composed of approximately 800 regional databases. The MLS is accessible to authorized real estate agents and brokers who pay membership fees. It is possible for a real estate agent to be a member of more than one MLS such that they can access databases in different regions. MLS databases provide agents with detailed data that they can pass on to their clients. Some of the information that such agents need include photos, square footage, HOA regulations, seller disclosures, number of bedrooms, contact details of the seller, and details of when the home is available for showings. The information is kept from the public because it could threaten the privacy or security of the seller. If one is a high-profile seller who wants to avoid publicity, they can go for pocket listings, and this allowed them to make 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 is especially the case when one does not want to pay 3% commissions to real estate agents. However, the local MLS listing is the most substantial and accurate database compared to the for sale by owner sites.

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. They will indicate your name and contact details as a 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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