How To Search The Multiple Listing Service

How To Search The Multiple Listing Service (MLS)

The Most Effective Way to search the multiple listing service effectively are the following.

  • Get familiar with your local Multiple Listing Service system
  • Have a clear idea on what you are your searching for.
  • Choose to search via Map or Line Report.
  • Use a variety of search options by property type, area / community, price, size and many other specs to narrow down options.  
  • Use MLS Hot Sheets
  • Use other provided multiple listing service tools

What is the Multiple Listing Service

The Multiple Listing Service or “System” is commonly referred to as MLS by real estate agents, brokers and REALTORS.

Traditionally only real estate agents have access to input property into the Multiple Listing Service.  Once they obtain a listing from a seller, they will input the property into the MLS and go live.  

Once live, the property will syndicate into many other real estate sites such as Zillow, and Trulia.  This allows the public to search all properties listed on the Multiple Listing Service.  

Procuring listings as a real estate agent and inputting into the Multiple Listing Service will provide many benefits to the agent including but not limited to obtaining direct buyer leads.  

Be sure to have a good computer.  I personally use the Macbook Air as it is so light and I take it EVERYWHERE!  

Get Familiar with Your Local Multiple Listing Service System

When you become a “Realtor” you will have to pay the appropriate fees and will (should) have access to your Local Multiple Listing Service.

It is ideal to take the first course offered if you are new to real estate.

Every MLS is a little different as well.  So if you are switching boards, you still should try to attend an MLS course.

Thereafter, you will want to spend a good amount of time on the MLS playing around with it.  Don’t worry, you are not going to break anything.  

With everything, the more time you invest into it, the better you will get.

I suggest spending at least a few hours immediately once you have access doing a bunch of different searches.  And then an hour each day thereafter. Come up with sample searches like highrises in the $800k – 1.2MM price range in your city.  

Do not wait until you have to use it.  I’ve seen it many times with newer agents.  They get a lead and are in a rush to pull up property and are frazzled because they haven’t spent enough time learning the Multiple Listing Service system.  

Have A Clear Idea On What You Will Search When Using The Multiple Listing Service

Time is money right?  You want to ensure when you get on the Multiple Listing Service, that you know exactly what you are searching for regardless if you are working with a buyer or seller.  

Buyer Client

If you are working with a buyer, you want to ensure you are getting detailed information from them before searching the Multiple Listing Service.  You will want to find out at least the following:  

Area / Community, Property Type, Price Range (And if they are preapproved), Size of Property, Beds / Baths and Condition.  

Some other Multiple Listing Service helpful searches can be HOA Fees, Pool, Waterfront, View, Amenities and Year Built.

Also, ask questions regarding their preferences such as open / closed spaces, design, needs and wants.

Once you are armed with this information, searching the MLS should be faster and more effective.  

Seller Client

When using the MLS to create a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis), there are several things to do.

Research Subject Property: Be sure to gather all the documentation of the subject property.  This will include past MLS reports, property appraiser report, photos and detailed information from the seller on conditions, upgrades and repairs.  

Narrow Down Your Comps: Traditionally you will use the Multiple Listing Service to obtain at least 3 sold comparables and 3 active comparables to figure out your evaluation.  

Too Many Comps: If you searched in MLS and have gotten an overwhelming numbers of comparables to use, then consider adding more relevant search criteria or tighten up the current search.

Can you narrow down the year built?  How about the sq footage? How about closer proximity to the subject property?

Too Little Comps: The multiple listing service is going to spit out what you instructed it to do.  If you are coming up with very limited comparables you will need to back out of certain criteria or loosen up the existing.  

These searches are such as moving further out from the subject property, using 3 bedroom + instead of 3 bed & den + 

Use Hot Sheets in the Multiple Listing Service

This is a great tool that is to-date on a specific search(s).  For example, let’s say you have a specific geographic area you concentrate on.  You can create this hot sheet search with all the specifics and add it to your home / dashboard page so you know what exactly is happening with your micro market.  

This same type of MLS hot sheet search can be set up for a buyer.  You can be quick on the draw to let your buyer know of a new listing that hit the multiple listing service within their criteria.  Remember, good deals don’t last long.  

Use Realist & Any Other Data Processing 

Most Multiple Listing Service providers have other tools related to data.  Data can be one of your biggest allies in providing relevant information to clients.  

These data providers can also provide you a means to strategically target market the public using these MLS tools.  

For example, in our local market we use Realist.  If I wanted to reach out to a specific target market such as :  absentee owners, in a specific community or mapped out area, who bought in the time period of 1980-2000, with an assessed value of $500k+ with pools.  I absolutely could get this data. I could then export it or even have it printed with their mailing addresses directly on Avery Labels.  

Use Other MLS Tools / Resources

Most likely you have plenty of tools at your disposal on your dashboard or provided links.  

New MLS tools are likely to keep coming out well.  Take your time and go through each one. See what they offer and how they can benefit your real estate business.  

Other Quick Tips In Using The Multiple Listing Service

  • Search by map instead of lists in order to get a better idea on location.  This helps to see if another property out of range “could work.”
  • If someone wants a 2000 sq ft home, consider searching 1800+ (You never know if they are missing out on the right deal from MLS)
  • Use Plus (+) and (-) for min / max amounts.  Such as property under $400-
  • Search over their maximum buying power as it always maybe negotiable with more motivated sellers.  If their max is $500k, got to $550k. Maybe even $575k.
  • Listen to the client intently when asking for their desired searches
  • Always put buyers and sellers on a MLS drip on their community (or desired community).
  • Be sure you actually preview the active comps when pulling a CMA from the multiple listing service before meeting a seller.  Many times, sellers are very knowledgeable about their community, neighbors and sales in their area.  
  • Start over.  Sometimes, you have a search criteria added and don’t know it which is throwing off your search.  Sometimes it is best to go to the home screen and start fresh.  
  • Use additional field “Property Information” – This is where you can type keywords that may come up in the remark sections but not an actual input criteria.  Example words to type in could be “guest house” “RV parking” “Room For Pool” “Handyman Special” “Motivated Seller”

MLS Isn’t Difficult To Use.  Just Put The Time In

The Multiple Listing Service is the number one tool you will need in your residential real estate career.

Take your time learning the system.  As mentioned, it will get easier.  

To your success!  

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