There are over 750 MLS Services (Multiple Listing Services) in the United States. Among other functions, the MLS serves its members as the local repository of real estate data. Its members use the MLS database to keep track of real estate market activity and to inform other members of changes within their market. An MLS also serves its members as a governing body, to use an MLS, its members are required to abide by the rules and regulations of the MLS. These rules and regulations vary from MLS to MLS, but for the most part are in place to product the public and maintain fairness and consistency between its members and data.
Why Do I Need MLS?
When selling your home ByOwner you NEED the greatest exposure you can get. The more you exposure you can get to your home will result in a higher sales price and a shorter your marketing time. The National Association of REALTORS®, reports that over 90% of homes sold in the USA are sold with the assistance of a real estate professional. The single most important tool for every real estate professional is the MLS. This is the tool agents and brokers use to find inventory for their customers. If sellers are not in the MLS they risk missing exposure to the main data source to where 90% of the professionals searching for available inventory.
When any member of an MLS receives a new "listing" from a seller, they immediately add it to their local MLS. The real estate community at large uses their MLS service to keep track of what properties come on and off the market. When you list your home with a real estate firm who is a member of your market's local MLS. Your broker/agent will manually add the details of your listing to that MLS, thus immediately exposing it to every other member of that same MLS.
The database maintained by a MLS is the single most important tool offered to its members. It is the central source where all the members share access to their listings and notify each other to any changes in their listing inventory, (new homes to the market, under contract listings, sold listings, price changes, photos, etc).
When an agent lists a property within an MLS, they get local, national and world wide exposure to that listing. Your local MLS is the source every large and small real estate firm uses to get their homes on the market. Many Sellers think there is only one MLS, this is not true. The 750+ MLS's throughout the country serve specific geographical territories. For example, if you live in Florida, (there are dozens of MLS's in Florida) it is not practical for you to be in an Illinois MLS and vice versa. A Florida listing will not be exposed to members of an Illinois MLS. However a Florida listing will get national exposure through real estate aggregator sites like Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and Movoto. Placement of a home in the MLS serving the geographic territory for that property will give it local exposure to the members of that specific MLS, plus national exposure through syndication to Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, Bing, Yahoo, AOL and as well as in all the major Brokerage sites. It is imperative that your home be place in your local MLS for the greatest exposure to your local real estate community and national syndication. The majority of agents are members to only the 1 or 2 MLS's served within their geographic market.
Can I get in the MLS and pay no commission.
The short answer to this is yes. This type of listing is generally called an "Exclusive Agency Listing", it is a listing which doesn't obligate you to a fee or commission if you find your own buyer. These agreements state that if you as the seller, sell your home on your own you owe NO commission. This type of listing includes language which mentions you will pay a fee if another agent is involved, but are not required to pay one if you sell it on your own. We recommend, but don't insist on you offering a cooperating fee to a selling agent. This will encourage other agents/brokers to bring their buyers. Our suggestion is to offer a fee of 1-3% of the selling price, or a fee consistent to other rates being offered in your area.
Membership in an MLS
Obtaining a membership to an MLS is fairly easy, but does require certain criteria to be met. Possession of an active real estate license from a state regulated licensing board, payment of dues and adherence to the MLS's guidelines are the core requirements. The members agree at all times to comply with and all federal, state, and local laws and ordinances relating to each member's business.
Although not mandatory with every MLS, a secondary membership with the National Association of REALTORS®, (NAR) is common throughout the members of any MLS. Members of the National Association of REALTORS® agree to abide by its code of ethics as well as the other national rules and regulations of the NAR.
Since there are so many MLS's across the country, the geographic boards of each MLS's territory are often blurred, overlap or intersect. A broker who markets their services in wide territories or areas served by different MLS's will often maintain membership's more than one MLS service.