Selling properties is a long and complex process that requires experience and the right tools. The advent of the information age has provided real estate agents with a very important tool, namely the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®). All members of local real estate boards have access to the MLS® -- an extensive network of property listings across the country.
What is the MLS®?
The MLS® is a set of privately owned databases run by real estate boards across the country which allows home sellers to list their property under the approval of certain real estate brokerages. A brokerage is a company that employs real estate agents: the intermediary between the buyer and the seller.
The MLS® is a sophisticated computer database of properties indexed by price, location, type of home, number of bedrooms, amenities and so forth. Photos of homes may also be available on-line and, over the past year, many real estate boards have added their MLS® listings to the Internet through www.realtor.ca.
Although managed separately, the systems are linked via computer so REALTORS® can access listings in most other areas. The MLS® makes the real estate industry-unique by allowing and encouraging a high degree of cooperation among salespeople. No matter which real estate company your agent works for, using the computerized MLS® system, your agent 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 several other companies.
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 While these catalogues may still exist, they have largely been replaced by a high-speed computer program that allows REALTORS® to check up-to-the-minute information on every current listing.
MLS® is a very effective tool. Last year, sales across Canada from MLS® listings totaled an amazing $58 billion.
The benefits of MLS®
Many home buyers will find themselves first viewing the MLS® material at their Realtor's office to preview potential properties and narrow the list further. Through the MLS®, you can literally view details of thousands of homes without leaving your agent’s office.
This gives the home buyer an extraordinary amount of choice and flexibility. The search for homes doesn't have to involve driving around neighbourhoods looking for "for sale" signs. Nor does it mean relying on homes listed only in newspapers or real estate magazines. With the MLS®, an entire spectrum of available properties is at your Realtor's fingertips. Even if you're moving across the country or to a distant part of the province, the MLS® can be used to scout homes in advance, greatly reducing the worry that often comes with relocation.
The major benefit of MLS® to consumers is that it allows the Realtor to use his or her skills to full advantage. Realtors are experts at determining what it is a potential buyer wants in a home--and a large part of the Realtor's job lies in finding properties that suit these criteria. With the MLS®, a Realtor can search the database for homes that suit budgets, location preferences, and family requirements, and quickly put together a shortlist of suitable homes.
For home sellers, the MLS® provides greater exposure and also helps setting selling prices by comparing your home to similar houses sold recently in your area. It may also help to sell your home faster.
Using the MLS® cuts through the complexities exposes your property to those most likely to purchase it, and makes sure you won't waste time showing your home to those who aren't truly interested.