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What is the MLS?

The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a private database of homes for sale by cooperating Real Estate Brokers that is broken up into regional MLS databases. There are between 700 and 800 multiple listing services in the US — this number is constantly in flux because of mergers or new ones forming. Each regional MLS has its own listings and Agents who pay dues to post or access these listings.

The MLS acts as a marketing tool for exposure and gathering home data in the region with the end goal of listing, showing and selling homes. A Listing Agent can add their listings with information, photos and documents (such as disclosures, plats, surveys and more), and the Buyer’s Agent can gather and present this information to the buyers they represent.

What is the MLS?

Home sellers cannot post their home directly into the MLS because only licensed Agents and Brokers who pay for a membership can gain access. Likewise, buyers cannot log directly into the MLS to gather their own information on homes. But they can either go through a licensed Agent that belongs to the MLS or they can conduct Internet searches on third party sites such as Zillow and, which pull data from each MLS. If an Agent wishes to have access to a broader area, they can become a member of more than one regional MLS.

The entire MLS database is more accurate than any Internet search you may try because of the rules, procedures and guidelines an Agent must adhere to. Each Agent must follow regulations on time-frames to enter, pend or close a listing, compensation to other Brokers, home access and more. If an Agent doesn’t follow these rules, they could receive a fine or may be forced to mediate, arbitrate or if ethics are the issue, go before the ethics committee for a ruling. If you need access to your local MLS in order to list or find a home, seek assistance from a trusted local Real Estate Agent.

What is the Multiple Listing Service?

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