A CONSUMER'S GUIDE TO THE MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE
Anyone who’s had a passing brush with the real estate market has seen or heard the term ‘MLS®.’ But few consumers know exactly what the MLS® is, or understand the important role it plays in the real estate industry.
The MLS® (Multiple Listing Service®) is a complex information-sharing network created by Realtors several decades ago to help the public buy and sell homes. When a Realtor lists a property for sale, he or she completes a detailed data sheet describing the home and submits the information to Real Estate Boards which manage the MLS®. Board staff enter the information into a central MLS® computer databank, accessible only to other Realtors.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), operates the MLS® locally, most of the eleven other Boards around B.C. operate their own regional MLS® systems. Although managed separately, the systems are linked via computer so Realtors can access listings in most other areas.
MLS® makes the real estate industry unique by allowing and encouraging a high degree of cooperation among salespeople — much more so than in any other industry. For example, if you’re shopping for a car and you visit a local dealership, the salesperson’s goal is to sell you a car from his lot. He won’t provide you with information on cars available at other competing dealerships; you would have to visit those on your own.
In the real estate industry, the opposite is true. MLS® allows for cooperation between all Realtors, no matter which real estate company they work for. Using the computerized MLS® system, your Realtor will enter the criteria you want in a home and generate a list of all the homes that meet your needs. These homes might be listed by agents from five, ten, or twenty other companies — to your Realtor, it doesn’t matter. Only properties not listed with a Realtor (‘For Sale by Owner’) are not accessible on MLS®.
Before the computer era, the MLS® system was managed manually through an immense amount of paperwork. Real Estate Boards printed daily ‘listing sheets.’ While these catalogues still exist, they have largely been replaced by a high-speed computer program that allows Realtors to check up-to-the-minute information on every current listing.
This program provides Lower Mainland Realtors with access to much more detailed information, such as room-by-room measurements and specifics on the property condition, renovations, appliances, property zoning and rental rates. Realtors can access the sales history of a home in order to see how many times it has changed hands and at what prices.
Some MLS® information is available to the public on through RealtyLink — the official, most complete and up-to-date source for real estate listings, statistics and community information for homebuyers and sellers. Available in two conveniently organized, consumer friendly formats, RealtyLink — In Print and RealtyLink — On Line.
Using the detailed profile available for every MLS® listing, supplemented by their own in-depth knowledge of the neighbourhood and current market conditions, your Realtor can help you make a wise purchasing decision. And when it comes time to sell your home, the MLS® is your Realtor’s indispensable tool.