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What Is An MLS?

The Multiple Listing Service, or MLS as it is commonly referred to, has been around as a concept since 1907. Originally, REALTORS® would get together and discuss properties they were trying to sell in the hopes that one of their colleagues had a buyer. In 1908 the organization that is now the National Association of REALTORS®, adopted the use of this system for all its members.

So what exactly is an MLS? While it may appear that the MLS is a large national data base it is actually made up of many regional MLS’s. Each area has its own MLS with its own members that pay dues to belong. Members put their listings into the system allowing other members to access information about all property locally available. Anyone belonging to the MLS can access information for a buyer they are working with and search available listing that might be a good fit. Realtors also rely on the MLS to search for “comps” or comparable sales when pricing a new listing. Members have access to all local properties that have sold so they can have a database to help them price a property correctly for the local market. Appraisers and lenders can also join an MLS as an affiliate member and have access to the same information for use in their professions as well.

Because you must be a licensed REALTOR® to be a member of the local MLS, home sellers are not allowed to post their home on the MLS. REALTORs® pay a fee to belong and that is part of the service they bring to a homeowner or buyer. When a property is listed, the REALTOR® compiles all of the necessary data such as square footage, number of bedrooms, upgrades or improvements and pictures and then posts that information on the local MLS. That exposes your listing to all the local members and feeds to the national databases such as REALTOR.com®, Zillow & Trulia. This system exposes your property to a huge amount of potential buyers and is a key part of a REALTOR’s® marketing strategy.

This local MLS database that feeds directly into the national sites is also what allows a potential buyer to go online to REALTOR.com® and see what properties

are available for sale locally. A buyer can’t access the local MLS database directly, which is another reason to work with a local REALTOR® A desirable listing will not stay on the market very long so working with a REALTOR® can get you the edge you need to be the first one in with an offer when it hits the market.

I’m sure you have heard the line “real estate is local” but it is absolutely true. If you live in Freeport you are only concerned with what the market is locally. Bidding wars in San Francisco mean nothing to you if you have a house to sell here. It is to your benefit to work with a REALTOR® that is local, belongs to the local MLS and knows the local market. That can be your best chance and getting a fast sale at the best price. The same is true for a buyer. Working with a local Realtor that belongs to the local MLS can be your best chance of finding the house you are looking for before anyone else does. When a REALTOR® is searching the MLS for property for their buyer, only the properties that have been put into the local MLS will show up so it is important that your property be there or it will not show up in that search. There are other area MLS’s: Rockford has one, Chicago has one, there are several in Central and Southern Illinois, and some REALTORs® belong to several to increase their marketing area. That is a great addition for some REALTOR®s to offer but local exposure is very important if you want to attract a local buyer. The MLS is still the best way for properties to be exposed to the market and for REALTOR® members to cooperate with each other to ensure their client’s homes get sold and their buyers find their dream home.

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