In today's merciless real estate market, you need all the help you can get. How do you put your house out there to attract serious buyers? You're going to need to do more than just posting a For Sale sign on your lawn and putting an ad in the paper. For decades, the most effective way to do that has been to hire a real estate agent to help sell your house. He or she will list your property on a multiple listing service.
A multiple listing service is a collection of private databases used by real estate brokers who agree to share their listing agreements with one another to locate ready, willing and able buyers for properties more quickly than they could on their own. Brokers earn sales commissions from the sale of properties they listed and properties they help sell as a buyer's representative.
So what advantages does a multiple listing service offer to the consumer? As a seller, you can expose your property to thousands of potential buyers you would otherwise never reach. As a buyer, you enjoy the benefit of instant access to listings that match specified criteria, beyond price range and location. Maybe you want to see homes with a big yard, a garage and a lake view, or homes in a certain school district or close to public transportation. Many multiple listing service sites can also tell you how much you should expect to pay in real estate taxes, mortgage payments, and utilities on a particular property. This service has saved everyone involved in real estate transactions -- buyers, sellers and their agents -- time and legwork in sorting through the millions of properties on the market.
For more than five decades, the broker-controlledMLS®system has been the primary marketplace connecting buyers and sellers of real estate in the United States. But recently its dominance has become threatened by communications technology -- chiefly the Internet -- and the ability of consumers to easily share information with each other without the need for a middleman.
But before we look at this revolution in the real estate industry, let's look at how multiple listing services have historically worked until the turn of the millennium.