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What Is A Multiple Listing Service?

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In today's real estate world, you'll hear the term Multiple Listing Service thrown around a lot. It's more commonly known as an MLS, and almost every realtor is associated with one or more Multiple Listing Services.  Many home buyers seem confused about what the MLS Real Estate Listing Service actually does to help them sell their home.

But what exactly is a Multiple Listing Service, and what benefits does it bring?  

A Multiple Listing Service is the place where real estate agents enter the data on the property they are selling to let the community know that the property is for sale. It is also the place where real estate agents search for properties listed for sale.  Most importantly, a Multiple Listing Service is a place where a seller's real estate agent (the listing agent) shares the commission with a buyer's agent.  This is called cooperation and compensation and it is how the industry works together to represent their respective clients. When a real estate broker joins a multiple listing service they are agreeing to be a participant of that service.  As a participant they agree to work together with the rest the community by offering and accepting cooperation and compensation (commissions).  

In short, a Multiple Listing Service provides a way for a real estate agents to get their clients' listings out on the market. The Multiple Listing Service usually helps a broker with listing syndication, which is another way to get a seller's listing onto consumer search portal sites, along with additional benefits

 A common mistake made by agents, brokers and offices is they feel forced to join only a local MLS & they don't have the choice to join a larger more robust multiple listing service, like a Statewide MLS or a Natiowide MLS. A broker may join any MLS he or she chooses. The agents under that brokerage join the MLS they are apart of.  Something unique about the NY STATE MLS and My State MLS is that it allows individual membership with broker participation. This means an individual agent can join the MLS without the entire brokerage and all their agents being required to join.  This is also called forced membership.  Many people think there is only One (1) MLS in the country, but that couldn't be further from the truth.  There are actually over 600 Multiple Listing Services in the United States and most of them are fairly small, serving only the immediate local community.  New York State MLS is different because it is the first Statewide Multiple Listing Service that covers then entire State of New York.  That means that any real estate broker can work with any other real estate broker who is also a member.  This benefit gives New York State Multiple Listing Service's members an edge over non-members because it means more potential buyers.  More potential buyers is the best way to sell a property.   New York State MLS is also part of the larger My State MLS, a nationwide Multiple Listing Service.

It's important to understand that not every MLS is the same.  Many charge outrageous fees to join because they are supported by a much smaller pool of members and need to charge higher fees to pay their bills.   Fees, fines and dues are common among local MLS's.  Listing help and syndication can vary depending on which you pick.  Most of the time the local MLS is owned by the local board of Realtors.  It is usually a requirement that the broker join the local board of realtors to also be a member of the local MLS.  New York State MLS has no additional board membership requirement.  

Some Multiple Listing Services have a front facing consumer site, or search portal for the public to view listings.   Search the MLS of New York State Here.


John Pusa
Glendale, CA

Dawn Pfaff very good report about multiple listing service.

Sep 05, 2019 12:43 PM