what is the MLS in real estate featured image with text laying over a rainy street with a bus.

By Karen D. Friedman | 03.15.21

The MLS stands for the Multiple Listing Service.  It is an online database used by agents and was created to provide information on real estate properties. In essence, it provides agents with an inventory of properties.

Did you know the MLS is not limited to residential listings? It provides information on all types of properties such as income, businesses, land and rentals.

If you are an agent, this database is a crucial tool when it comes to servicing your clients. Let’s talk more about how to use the MLS, some basic features, and other services that the MLS provides to help you with your business. 

How to Use the MLS for Buyers

Let’s start with how to use the MLS for buyers. 

As we know, each buyer will be different.  They will have specific features that they will be looking for in a property. The first step is finding out what your buyer wants.

Start by having a buyer consultation with your client. This will give you a better understanding of what your buyer is looking for.  After you have collected the information, use the MLS to zero in on the listings available.

The MLS can search for properties based on a variety of factors. The most common search features are the city or zip code, type of home (Single Family or Condo), and price. 

The more criteria you put, the more the MLS will narrow in on only the listings that fit that search. 

So, let’s say you have a buyer that only wants to see 2 bedroom condos in West LA, for under 1 million, that is pet friendly, and has a fireplace. You can get that specific.  

On the MLS you would input  – Area: West LA –  Price: Max 1 million – Bed: Max 2 – Interior Features: Fireplace – Pets: Yes

The MLS will do all the work for you and show you the properties currently available that fit the criteria. You can then set up appointments to preview the homes with your buyer. 

How to Find Open Houses on the MLS

Another great feature of the MLS is the Open Houses section. 

Maybe your buyer doesn’t know exactly what they want yet. Perhaps they only know they want to live in a particular city. You can see all the properties that are holding an Open House in that area and take your buyer to preview those homes without an appointment.

As an agent, you can also use the Open House section to preview homes and better know the inventory. 

If you have a buyer that is hands-on in the process, you can give your client access to the MLS as a guest.  You will also be informed of the searches that your client makes.

This potentially leads to an offer made, accepted and gets your buyer in escrow!  

How to Use the MLS for Sellers

Now let’s talk about the sellers. 

When you are a listing agent, your main priority to your seller is to get their home sold.  You want them to be confident in your ability to get their home advertised and sold quickly.  What better way to get that done than to list their home on the MLS. 

It all starts with the listing appointment. Part of your listing appointment will include a Comparable Market Analysis.  A Comparable Market Analysis, or CMA helps determine the estimated price of a home.  The MLS will be invaluable when creating the CMA.

It does this by pulling all the properties recently sold. These properties will have the same characteristics as the home you’re intending to list.  This helps ensure you are pricing the home favorably with the market.

Once you have the listing, the next step is to enter it on the MLS for maximum exposure.

How to Put Your Listing on the MLS

You will be inputting all the characteristics of your listing for everyone to access. Since the MLS is the primary database for all active listings, you want to make sure that your listing stands out.

You can do that by adding professional pictures and a video of a virtual walkthrough of the home. Your detailed description of the property and added features can also attract other agents to want to make sure their buyers preview your listing. 

If you are holding an Open House, don’t forget to enter that information as well.  That information also gets auto-populated to the Open House section for buyers to see.

The MLS does have a public search feature so make sure that your listing is complete. Listings with shorter descriptions and few pictures will not get as many inquiries.

What are Agent Remarks?

Whether you are representing the buyer or seller, sometimes there is information that only the agent will need to see. That’s when you will refer to the “Agent Remarks.”

Agents will use this area for a variety of reasons. Most commonly, this will be used for showing instructions. Here are some other examples of what would be disclosed in the agent remarks section:

  • Death occurred in or on the property
  • Garage converted to living quarters is not permitted
  • Disclosures required to submit before showing the property
  • Deadline to submit offers

The remarks are designed to provide additional information only pertinent to the agent. Regarding the first example, death is considered a “material fact” so it must be disclosed.  A “material fact” is considered any information that would impact a decision to purchase.

Not to say that a buyer wouldn’t want to know if a death occurred on the property! 

It is more appropriate for an agent to convey that sensitive information to their client than to see it publicly where it can cause a bias.  

Final Thoughts on the MLS

From agent websites to database management, agents have many tools that help with their business.  The MLS is an integral part of that overall picture. 

In review, the MLS is a great resource when it comes to conducting business as a real estate agent. Benefits: 

  • Preparing the CMA for listing consultations
  • Advertising when you have a seller
  • Property search for buyers
  • Open House directory for previewing homes
  • Confirming status of a property – Active, Pending, Sold 
  • Access to public records

And we have only gone over the basics! The MLS is versatile and an invaluable tool.  So next time you’re on the MLS, go exploring.  

You’ll be happy you did.  


Every week, we release in-depth videos to help viewers become successful real estate agents on our CA Realty Training YouTube Channel. Also, if you enjoyed reading this article, we would love if you could share it with a friend who you think would get something out of it.
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