A multiple listing service (MLS) is a database that real estate agents and real estate brokers use to upload, list, and manage properties for rent or for sale. It is a way for agents and brokers to share information about properties with each other and with the public, in order to facilitate the renting, buying, and selling of real estate. MLS systems typically include a searchable database of available properties, as well as information about each property, such as its location, size, and features.
Who can access the MLS?
The MLS is a membership-based service. MLS systems are used by real estate brokers, real estate agents, and other real estate professionals to find properties for their clients, and by individuals who are looking to buy or sell a property. Some MLS’s have a public-facing portal where buyers can search for available properties. These portals are similar to Zillow, Redfin, or Realtor.com. The biggest difference between the MLS and the public-facing portal is that the MLS’s have the most accurate and up-to-date data. This is because it is required for real estate agents and real estate brokers to keep their properties’ listing information current.
It was originally created in the United States in the late 1800s as a way for real estate brokers and real estate agents to share information about properties with each other and their clients. Local real estate brokers and agents gathered regularly to share the properties they were trying to rent or sell. The brokers and agents struck a deal with each other: if one broker were to help another sell one of his properties, the original broker would compensate him. This agreement turned into the Multiple Listing Service.
Today, an MLS still allows agents to share listings and help each other sell properties. Instead of accessing the properties through paper or word of mouth, real estate agents and brokers today can log in to a database. These databases are hosted on software, such as IDX.