The MLS, or Multiple Listing Service, is an online database of homes that are listed for sale. Most real estate agents are members of the MLS, as well as local real estate brokerages. The service works by consolidating information, which allows even the smallest listing brokerages to connect with brokers who have clients looking to buy. Realtors or brokerages will work with clients to include all relevant details of their property, photos, and a short description to create a listing that is made publically available.
Although the MLS is a private database and therefore exclusively available to real estate professionals, it also feeds into local listing websites that people generally use when searching for houses or rentals online, such as Zillow or Trulia. On the buyer’s end, they are able to view photos of the home, amenities, local resources, and more. They can also search for homes by specific criteria, such as location, number of bedrooms, or square footage.
There are many great benefits of using the MLS when putting your home on the market, and the most obvious one is exposure. A listing service gives you the opportunity to have literally hundreds of people come across your listing online, who otherwise may not have happened upon it by chance. This might mean instead of thirty people seeing your ad in the paper or driving by your home and seeing the “for sale” sign, hundreds or even thousands could be exposed to your listing when searching online.
Another benefit is that the details provided about homes on the MLS could save you, the buyer, and the real estate agents on both sides of the transaction a lot of time. Why? Well, many MLS services (depending on your location) can provide estimates to potential buyers on how much they might expect to pay in utilities, taxes, and more. It’s even possible to attach the required disclosure documents to your listing, or for the listing agent to add notes about how to contact them for a showing, or update an open house calendar. The system has been made progressively more efficient over the years, which benefits just about everyone involved in a real estate transaction.
If you decide to work with a great realtor and have your home listed on the MLS, it’s also important to do so strategically. That means having a professional take flattering photos of your home, coming up with an attention-grabbing description under 500 words or so, and including as much detail as you can. The key is to create a listing that will stand out (in a good way) from the thousands of other listings potential buyers will also be exposed to when searching for homes in your area.