The real estate industry is continuously growing and has been for many years now, especially in a big country like the United States or Canada. Millions of real estate deals are taking place every day, and tens of millions of listings need to be monitored and moderated in one way or another. This is where the MLS comes in, and we’ll explain in this article everything about Multiple Listing Service.
What is MLS?
The MLS or Multiple Listing Service is an association that provides authorized property information within a defined region or state. An MLS provider offers a gateway to trustworthy and accurate real estate information. Most MLSs within the US will cover an area supervised by a Board of Realtors, a realtor’s committee, or a Realtors Association.
All MLSs strive to provide valid real estate data within a specific region, thus eliminating the possibility of distorted information.
Multiple Listing Services achieve these goals by implementing strict regulations to protect their data. Only licensed real estate agents and realtors have access to IDX listings.
How Many MLS are There in the United States?
The specific number of MLSs fluctuates from year to year since new ones appear in certain areas while other MLSs merge. That being said, there are around 900 Multiple Listing Services distributed across the country. If you think that’s a lot, you may be right, but there is a reason as to why there are so many MLSs spread across the US.
The real estate industry is highly decentralized, regardless of the steps taken to standardize it and to standardize listings. Another reason is the fact that different states have different rules and regulations in place. This means that it’s nearly impossible to have only a handful of providers for the whole country.
Should Agents Join the MLS?
There are many benefits to joining and partnering with a Multiple Listing Services provider. You will have access to updated listings within a certain region, but that’s not all – you can access thousands of real estate listings from the MLS and integrate them into your website.
If you’re thinking that maybe you can use a 3rd party Vendor to get access to MLS data, we assure you it’s not allowed. Each MLS provides IDX information only to registered members, even if the data is accessed through a vendor. And each vendor must provide a list of all their clients’ agent information as well.
MLS provides more than just access to listings with their membership. You can get TAX tools, agent alerts, promotion possibilities through MLS and more.
Do MLSs Exist in Other Countries?
MLSs exist in some way or another in many different countries. The basic principle behind an MLS is valid real estate information and cooperation between various brokers – this concept is applied by private companies worldwide, sometimes with the approval of local authorities.
What is an MLS Grid?
The MLS Grid is a partnership between the significant MLSs from the United States. These entities decided to consolidate their real estate data and standardize it. The MLS Grid was founded back in 2016, with all members switching to the RESO Web API and the RESO Data Dictionary for their listings databases.
Members currently include:
- Austin MLS (Austin, TX)
- Carolina MLS (Charlotte, NC)
- Heartland MLS (Kansas City, MO)
- MARIS (St. Louis, MO)
- MIBOR (Indianapolis, IN)
- MRED (Chicago, IL)
- Stellar MLS or former MFR MLS (Orlando, FL)
- NorthStar MLS (Saint Paul, MN)
- NWMLS (Seattle, WA)
- Realtracs (Nashville, TN)
How Do I Access the Multiple Listing Service?
To get access to MLS listings, you need to take a few simple but mandatory steps, including:
- You will have to contact your local MLS and request access to their listings (if you are a registered member)
- Filling out the necessary paperwork and making the required payments if you need to become a member.
Some MLS offer access to MLS listings for free, and at the moment the article is published, we can guarantee the free access for clients from Miami Realtors or ABOR (Austin Board of Realtors). Some may ask to pay an extra fee for this service, a piece of information that you can confirm directly to your MLS Content Licensing department.
Implementing the RESO Web API in your website
Before you can get access to thousands of real estate listings, you should know that RETS feed is obsolete and all MLS will soon join the RESO Standard. Read more here about what are the benefits to be a RESO member.
RESO or the Real Estate Standard Organization developed the Web API, as well as the Data Dictionary as a means to standardize the real estate industry and make quick MLS integration possible. Once your MLS has implemented the RESO Web API, you can get access to data. And through MLS Import you can publish that data from your MLS directly to your WordPress theme.
There are over 800 RESO ready Multiple Listing Services to date which you can use with MLS Import. We invite you to check our list and contact us if you need to know more about pricing.
How Much Does it Cost?
Maintaining a vast database of thousands of listings gobbles up plenty of server space – this is why access to the MLS comes at a price. The fee itself depends on the MLS and the number of listings it has stored, or the listings it is willing to provide you access to.
What is the Difference between a Realtors Association and the MLS?
An MLS is a technology company focused on providing accurate information regarding real estate listings, while a
Realtors Association is a group of elected realtors who integrate different services and protect the rights of realtors within a specific state. In some instances, both the MLS and the Realtors Association may be run by the same real estate specialists.
Can I Access the Multiple Listing Service Without an Agent?
You have to be a licensed real estate agent before you can get access to your local Multiple Listing Service. If you don’t want to get your real estate license, the easiest way to go about it would be to contact an agent or realtor and negotiate access to the listings database. You can also get your property listed on the MLS by contacting an agent or realtor directly.
The Multiple Listing Service, along with technical solutions such as the RESO Web API, made building real estate websites easier than ever before. It also facilitates the buying and selling of property, as well as standardization within the industry as a whole.