If you've ever bought or sold a home, you've probably heard your agent talk about comps. He or she is referring to comparative market analyses (CMA) -- what similar properties in an area are listing and selling for. Your seller's agent will do such an analysis before suggesting an appropriate asking price for your home. If you're a buyer, comps help your agent determine what properties you should be shown based on your price range. Agents get this data from the multiple listing service.
The listings also offer the advantage of timeliness: They are updated daily and continually display new properties coming on the market. Technology has only enhanced this benefit, making information even more up-to-the-minute. In a competitive market, this allows you to get a jump on other buyers who may notice the property by driving by a "For Sale" sign.
Most multiple listing services require that a member agent release new listings to the service within a short time frame of obtaining the listing. Your broker must have your written consent to include your property on a multiple listing service.
Usually, brokers and agents who use the MLS® in the United States must be members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a real estate trade association. The NAR has long had domain over the MLS®, but successful antitrust challenges to this member requirement have been mounted in several states, and currently non-NAR member brokers in Alabama, California, Florida, and Georgia must be allowed to participate in the MLS®.
Multiple listing services are organized and operated by professional, licensed real estate agents. Until recently, you couldn't get your property listed on an multiple listing service unless you wanted to pay a 5 to 6 percent sales commission. But some brokers and listing services are beginning to allow flat-fee listings by FSBO (for sale by owner) sellers, along with other a la carte services.
Keep reading to find out how the Internet is changing the real estate industry -- and putting more power in the hands of buyers and sellers.