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Multiple Listing Service (MLS)

What is the MLS?


An MLS is a database of properties for sale in a regional market, set up by a group of cooperating real estate brokers. The database facilitates marketing of the listed properties, and coordinates sharing of commissions between the listing agents and the agents who bring a buyer for a listed home. Some MLS' are affiliated with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in the U.S. or the Canada Real Estate Association, and require members to also belong to the NAR and to comply with the Association's rules.

Most Regional MLS database systems have a web portal that is accessible by the public, giving consumers and potential home buyers a way to search listings that Agents have released for Web viewing. The majority of homes listed for sale on an MLS are viewable by the consumer online; although, in some circumstances, home sellers or their Listing Agent may opt to not allow their listings to be viewed online.

In recent years, many brokerages have been pushing for smaller local or regional MLS systems to collaborate with neighboring systems to create a more robust and standardized database system for listings. Larger, combined regional MLS systems have been cropping up all over the United States with mixed results, in the eyes of other Real Estate brokerages. There is a constant debate between parties on whether or not having a combined system is better for both Real Estate Agents and their clients. One thing is certain, though, future development of MLS database systems need to be compatible with web-based consumer platforms, like Zillow, in order to facilitate more possible interaction with the consumer and make the experience of selling or buying a home easier for everyone involved.

By Diane Tuman

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  • Last edited October 12 2012
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