Frequently Asked Question: What is the MLS?
The MLS is the abbreviation for Multiple Listing Service. This is the database and tool that almost all Realtors use for listing and finding real estate to assist their clients.
Each local Realtor association runs their own MLS or belongs to a regional group of associations that jointly run an MLS system. Most of these systems are stand-alone and are run by a third party contractor. Members of one MLS typically do not have access to the system of other associations except in those cases where an interchange agreement is in place.
These MLS systems are where more than 95% of all property listings are posted. It is from these systems that third party real estate portals such as Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and various brokerage and individual agent websites get their listing data. Not all MLS systems share data with all of these sites, and occasionally there is a lag to the data as well as older and incorrect listings. Typically, the best and most up to date information will be in the MLS.
Unlike the majority of third party sites and search portals the MLS systems have a great number of fields and Realtors are trained on using them to great advantage in order to be able to search for properties with very specific details and features.
If you are working with a Realtor, it is important to select one who is a member of the association that is in your area of interest, otherwise, your Realtor may not be able to access the most up-to-date and correct property information. You can specify the criteria and price range for your home search and your realtor will be able to set up an automatic search to send you all properties that come on the market that may be of interest. This is a much more efficient way to search for properties than just browsing a third party site.