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What is a Multiple Listing Service (MLS)?

The National Association of Realtors explains an MLS like this:

An MLS is a private offer of cooperation and compensation by listing brokers to other real estate brokers.

In the late 1800s, real estate brokers regularly gathered at the offices of their local associations to share information about properties they were trying to sell. They agreed to compensate other brokers who helped sell those properties, and the first MLS was born, based on a fundamental principal that’s unique to organized real estate: Help me sell my inventory and I’ll help you sell yours.

Today, through more than 800 MLSs, brokers share information on properties they have listed and invite other brokers to cooperate in their sale in exchange for compensation if they produce the buyer. Sellers benefit by increased exposure to their property. Buyers benefit because they can obtain information about all MLS-listed properties while working with only one broker.

Ultimately, to be able to adequately sell your listings or represent your buyer, you are most likely going to have to join your local MLS. To find out what MLS is local to you, try contacting your local State Association of Realtors.

Updated on September 4, 2018

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