Multiple Listing Service, DeBunked:
I decided to blog on the MLS this week after seeing a few Facebook posts on the misinformation and scams currently found on Zillow®, I found the responses from members of the public on what they thought the MLS was or wasn’t very interesting.
When you are in this business, you tend to live and breathe this stuff daily, so you can easily start assuming everyone knows how this works, but that is just not the case.
The MLS is commonly referred to as the “real estate market”. It is a place where real estate agents, who have properties for sale, can share information on those properties with other real estate agents who may have a buyer client for that property. For agents, MLS also acts as a conduit through which the real estate agents agree to share in commissions. The MLS is generally “owned” by the local realtor board in that given area. The information provided to the local MLS about the property is “owned” by the real estate broker who enters into a contract with the owner of the property which is generally referred to as a listing agreement.
The MLS was never intended to be the method by which the general public accessed information on homes. It has, however, become somewhat accessible because of the explosion of technology in the past couple of decades. Popular websites such as Zillow®, Trulia®, Realtor.com® have allowed individuals to feel that they are directly accessing the MLS, although that is not the case.
Direct access to the MLS is a big deal, not everyone is able to access this tool.
Real estate professionals pay big money to be a part of local boards in order to gain access. Many of the local boards require the agent’s broker to be a part of the local board, the state board and, the national board so that they can then grant their agents access. The agent also has to be a part of the local board, the state board and, the national board in order to gain access. That is a lot of membership dues being paid just to grant the agent direct access to their local MLS. With that expense, many brokerages and agents do not allow the public to search directly within the MLS, without entering into a contract for service with the brokerage or at least signing up on their website by giving up their mail addresses and phone numbers. This is done because they want your information so they can contact you directly, in hopes of picking you up as a client now or in the future.
Where does that leave those of you who just want to see what’s out there or see what your home is worth?
If you are currently not in the market and do not want to be called or spammed tirelessly by salespeople who are seemingly unable to recognize social cues and can’t take no for an answer, what do you do?
Most times you probably find yourself searching on Realtor.com®, Zillow® or Trulia®, thinking that all of that information is accurate and you are searching the local MLS, but you are actually not.
Unless the listing agents take the time to upload each listing individually into these websites they can lag behind in getting new listings on their sites by a couple of days. It is pretty easy to find listings on those sites that are no longer for sale if they were ever for sale at all. These sites are not regulated by the local boards so scams can be a problem, you can easily verify that for yourself with a simple google search for Zillow scams (or something similar). The Multiple Listing Service is going to be your most reliable source for the most accurate real estate listings.
In fact, Zestimates® and other information found on these sites are so inaccurate it has become one of the great sources of meme fodder for our industry. Similarly, simply owning a great domain name like mls.com does not mean you own the MLS or even have access to it. However, the owner of that domain (and similar ones) is in a pretty good position to sell placement on the site to the highest local bidder/brokerage. Those brokerages can then “give” the public access in local areas in exchange for, once again, contact information. So you are right back to square one, signing up to be forever spammed, called and generally harassed.
If you are looking to access the MLS with absolutely no obligation to ever provide your contact information, contact Solid Realty Group. You can find links to many MLS systems across Texas directly through the local Realtor® Boards on our Find Your Dream Home page.