Anyone who's had a passing brush with the real estate market has seen or heard the term 'MLS®.' But few consumers know exactly what the MLS® is, or understand the important role it plays in the real estate industry.
The Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®), owned and operated by REALTORS®, is the most powerful real estate marketing system in the country.
Housing market information originating from the MLS® has long been recognized as the most reliable and comprehensive data available for those looking to buy or sell a home.
The MLS® (Multiple Listing Service®) is a complex information-sharing network created by Realtors 65 years ago to help the public buy and sell home.
The strength of this system rests in the quality and accuracy of its information. Government, economists, financial institutions, appraisers and others all rely on MLS® data. This is because Realtors who submit the listing information, and MLS® staff at real estate boards who conduct quality control, are trained and educated in the complexities of real estate.
When a Realtor lists a property for sale, he or she completes a detailed data sheet describing the home and submits the information to Real Estate Boards which manage the MLS®. Board staff enter the information into a central MLS® computer databank, accessible only to other Realtors.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) operates the MLS® locally, most of the eleven other Boards around B.C. operate their own regional MLS® systems. Although managed separately, the systems are linked via computer so Realtors can access listings in most other areas.
MLS® makes the real estate industry unique by allowing and encouraging a high degree of cooperation among salespeople - much more so than in any other industry. For example, if you're shopping for a car and you visit a local dealership, the salesperson's goal is to sell you a car from his lot. He won't provide you with information on cars available at other competing dealerships; you would have to visit those on your own.
In the real estate industry, the opposite is true.
MLS® allows for cooperation between all Realtors, no matter which real estate company they work for. Using the computerized MLS® system, your Realtor will enter the criteria you want in a home and generate a list of all the homes that meet your needs. These homes might be listed by agents from five, ten, or twenty other companies - to your Realtor, it doesn't matter. Only properties not listed with a Realtor ('For Sale by Owner') are not accessible on MLS®.
This program provides Lower Mainland Realtors with access to much more detailed information, such as room-by-room measurements and specifics on the property condition, renovations, appliances, property zoning and Realtors can access the sales history of a home in order to see how many times it has changed hands and at what prices.
To participate on the MLS®, Realtors must meet professional development requirements and adhere to a code of ethics and rules of cooperation. They must also, among other things, carry Errors and Omissions Insurance and follow a strict set of business practices.
The arbitration process for Realtors is an example of how the MLS® framework puts the public first. If there’s a dispute about commissions paid or any other issues between Realtors, the process recognizes that the client should get what they want first, and any lingering issues, between the cooperating Realtors, are to be adjudicated afterward.
Some MLS® information is available to the public through RealtyLink.org - the official, most complete and up-to-date source for real estate listings, statistics and community information for homebuyers and sellers.