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Should You Use a Multiple Listing Service

Should You Use a Multiple Listing Service

Should You Use a Multiple Listing Service

In today’s world, technology has made buying and selling real estate a lot easier than what it used to be. With the availability of tools like Multiple Listing Services (MLS), it is much simpler to find and sell the perfect property. However, before we dive into whether or not you should use a Multiple Listing Service, let us define what an MLS is.

What is a Multiple Listing Service?

According to the National Association of Realtors, an MLS is a private database created by real estate agents to consolidate their property listings. This database allows members of the MLS to share information about properties with other members of the organization. These individuals are typically real estate professionals who have access to the MLS database, including brokers and agents. By using an MLS, sellers can expose their properties to numerous prospective buyers, while buyers can look up properties that meet their criteria.

The vast majority of MLS databases are managed by Realtor or trade associations, which are usually local or regional in nature. This allows these associations to control the distribution of their members’ listings while ensuring that the quality of the data is maintained.

Should You Use a Multiple Listing Service?

Now that we have a foundational understanding of what an MLS is, let us determine whether or not you should use one. Below are some advantages and disadvantages of using a Multiple Listing Service:


1. Exposure to a Wider Range of Buyers or Sellers

The primary advantage of using an MLS is that it provides access to a wider range of potential buyers or sellers. It is not uncommon for real estate agents and brokers to have extensive networks of contacts within the industry. However, these networks can only go so far. By using an MLS, sellers can expose their properties to a larger pool of potential buyers, which can help increase the value of the property.

2. Access to Accurate and Up-to-Date Information

MLS’s usually have strict standards for listing properties. This means that the data provided is likely to be accurate and up-to-date. Additionally, MLS databases are regularly updated, ensuring that new properties are added, and existing listings are removed or updated. Having access to reliable data can greatly simplify the buying and selling process.

3. Professional Assistance

In most cases, individuals who use an MLS will be working with a real estate agent or broker. These professionals will have access to the MLS’s database and will be able to guide you through the buying or selling process. They can also offer advice on pricing, contracts, and other relevant aspects of the transaction.

4. Saved Time and Effort

Listing a property can be a time-consuming and frustrating process, particularly if you are doing it yourself. By using an MLS, you can easily list your property or search for one without having to take on the burden yourself. This allows you to focus on other aspects of the buying or selling process, such as preparing your property for sale or negotiating a contract.


1. Costs

Using an MLS comes with a cost. In most cases, sellers will need to pay a fee to have their listing added to the database, while buyers will need an agent or broker, who will typically charge a commission once the sale is complete.

2. Limited Access for Non-Members

Only members of the MLS have access to the database. This means that if you are not a member, you may not have access to all the available listings. This can be a disadvantage for buyers who are looking for a specific type of property or sellers who are looking for a buyer with a particular set of preferences.

3. Limited Availability

MLS’s are primarily local or regional, which means that they may not be available in all areas. This can be particularly challenging for individuals who are looking to buy or sell property outside of their immediate area.

4. Privacy Concerns

MLS’s typically require members to list their information, including contact details, on the database. This can be a privacy concern for some individuals who prefer to keep their personal information confidential.

In conclusion, while there are both advantages and disadvantages to using Multiple Listing Services, the benefits of exposure to a wider range of buyers or sellers, access to accurate and up-to-date information, professional assistance, and saved time and effort far outweigh these disadvantages. Additionally, MLS’s are becoming increasingly prevalent in the real estate industry, with many government resources available to assist individuals who are looking to utilize them.

Overall, if you are looking to buy or sell property, we highly recommend using a Multiple Listing Service. The benefits of increased exposure, reliable information, professional assistance, and saved time and effort make this a worthwhile investment.

A multiple listing service does not necessarily possess the same principles as a multiple agency listing (which rarely ever happen in the real estate industry due to the potential for a conflict of interest and the encouragement of unethical, competitive behavior between multiple agents or agencies).

A multiple listing service is essentially as the name implies, a service that either allows listings from multiple sources or takes a listing from an owner (selling their property without representation) or an agency and places it under multiple listings.  While they have always been around in some form, most commonly for apartment rentals or sales, the number of potential multiple listing services have exploded in the last ten years with the rise in prominence of the Internet in the real estate landscape.

Multiple listing services can vary tremendously by their cost, accessibility, and also by their scope of marketplace (some can be global, others can represent only a smaller region or community).  Some services usually require a nominal fee for listing, similar to a traditional classified ad,  which can be paid by an agency or by an individual seller.  Others allow listing for free, and make profits through other means, such as advertising (which is very common in free Internet listings).

Often an agency representing a seller will try to market a property on as many services and listings as possible, but there are cases where agencies will try to keep a listing exclusive to their own listing service in order to privilege other members of their agency (or chain of agencies).  Usually, as a way of offsetting this exclusivity, the agency will extend the opportunities to view their listings in the form of a subscription service.

Depending on the size and reputation of the agency, this could have a substantial impact on the level of exposure of a given listing.  Usually, most agencies, will subscribe to other agency’s listing services in order to have access to listings to obtain potential properties to show to a client who is looking to buy.  However, most individual sellers will generally not pay the subscription rates, thus limiting the market from individual buyers looking, either by themselves or in conjunction with their agent.

More commonly though in the new Internet market, most agencies try to list in as many places as possible, and usually enable traffic to their own websites. This generally manages to ensure as much proliferation of a listing as possible while maintaining exclusivity on the specific details of the actual listing.

What any potential seller or buyer should consider when using any multiple listing service is the desired proliferation level of the service.  There are many listing services available, especially with the advancement of the Internet, but that also means that each are catering to a potentially smaller part of the marketplace.

In the case of marketing higher end property, one might consider limited exposure or even restricted exposure beneficial, for it limits the market to only serious offers.  Nevertheless, before listing with any agent, and certainly before buying on their own, a seller will want to know where, and how the agent will list their property and whether their method of listing will be the right one for them.