The multiple listings service is a local organization of real estate brokerages that agree to provide real estate commissions for properties they list for sale or rent. Usually the multiple listing service refers to the technology that agents use to access this database of homes.
The MLS is the commonly used acronym for the multiple listing service. It is often used to refer to the technology and listings database the MLS uses rather than the trade organization it represents. Each multiple listing service is local to a specific geography. Some multiple listing services cover a few cities while others cover multiple states.
The cost of membership in the multiple listing service can vary from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars.
There are over 800 multiple listing services across the United States. Each multiple listing service is local to a specific geography. Some multiple listing services cover a few cities while others cover multiple states.
Agents almost always post on the MLS first and use the MLS to research homes, find commission rates, and schedule home tours. Many popular portals like ZIllow get much of their data from the MLS. As a result, it is a unique advantage for agents and brokerages to be able to use the MLS.
In most cases, a non-agent cannot post on or use the MLS. Often, unlicensed assistants can receive discounted access to the MLS. But they typically have restricted privileges. A consumer who is unlicensed must typically hire a licensed agent or brokerage service to access MLS data.