Heard of MLS? If you've ever dealt with a realtor, you surely have. Working as realtor, most of my work is somehow connected to Toronto MLS listings. Wanna know why? Read on.
The essentials of MLS
Multiply Listing Service is nothing less or more than a database of all property for sale, connecting two agents, one that represents the seller and the other representing the potential buyer. It is region-based.It holds all the available information about the property in question (the owner, its address, footage, number of bedrooms and so on). It also gives info on the local area (services, transportation, etc.) and other information that the owner wished to public.
If I made it sound as if MLS was simply another list of properties not much different to let's say a listing available on your realtor's website, it's not quite so.MLS is not a public database: only realtors have a full access to it.The information on the available property on various real estate blogs are not complete. You might get an idea about the property, but will always have to contact the realtor for more information in the end.
The history of MLS
50 years ago the MLS originated as listing sheets or ringed binders with information on the property for sale in the region, manually updated twice a month.The first "upgrade" of the system came up when the real bound MLS books appeared once a month with weekly updates.The system relied on membership fees - can you imagine how much it must have cost to keep it running properly?The 70s brought the 3rd generation: the database was finally computerized and accessible through dumb terminals and phone lines.The so far last generation of the system is based on PCs and Internet. The conversion started in the 90s and the web-based system of regional databases hasn't changed much since.
Some people think that it's about time to upgrade the system once more.Particularly in the USA the discussing fellowship of realtors came up with the idea of another upgrade of the system to MLS 5.0, mainly by incorporating the functionalities of the 'web 2.0'.
The are three main differences of the 5.0 compared to the current MLS: the new system should be parcel based and therefore store information on all the properties there are, should be nationwide and customers, vendors and developers should be allowed to participate on it to some degree.But Canada has yet to think of such an upgrade, so let's stick to the MLS of today.
So how can MLS be useful to you, the customer?
Right now about 75% of all property is sold through the MLS or with its help.MLS is very important for the seller because it allows them to get their property as much exposure as possible.Equally the buyers benefit from MLS: thanks to MLS their broker has a very good idea of what's on the market.Thereby always make sure your realtor is a member of the local board of realtors and have the proper access to MLS where you intend to buy a property.