Why should I care about the MLS?

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A younger man in a blue-checkered shirt sitting at a table looking at a laptop

03/24/2015 | Author: Editorial Staff

A friend is encouraging me to use a Texas REALTOR® to sell my property because then the property will be listed in the MLS. What is an MLS?

A multiple listing service (MLS) is a private database of properties listed for sale or lease that REALTORS® can access and contribute to. As MLS participants, REALTORS® use MLSs to share and receive listing information to better serve their clients. Each MLS in Texas generally represents a specified geographic area, and is governed by rules that participants must abide by to ensure accurate, up-to-date information.

Listing your property in an MLS exposes it to a wide audience of real estate professionals and allows you to explain the terms and conditions under which you are marketing the property. In addition, your property will be included in the MLS’s download to websites consumers use to search for real estate listed for sale or lease.

Hiring a Texas REALTOR® gives you a lot more than just access to the MLS. Click here to read about other ways a Texas REALTOR® brings value to your real estate transaction.

Categories: Sellers, Homeowners
Tags: sellers, mls, legal


Sally Gonzalez on 04/23/2015

Access to MLS used to be limited to Realtors.  Now you can list on MLS thru a variety of websites as a FSBO.  They don’t need us anymore - why pay 6% when you can pay $500 fixed and get your home listed and shown all over the place?

Jenna Whitehead on 04/14/2015

I politely disagree with much of what you said. If I only limited myself to the city I lived in, and never bothered to show houses to people referred to me or people I know that wanted to look elsewhere, I do not feel I would be a very good Realtor in today’s marketplace. I do specialize in the city I grew up and do a lot of business there, but I am showing and selling homes in other cities as well. My job as a Realtor only starts with showing a house. Unlocking a door is only the first few steps of many that I do. I facilitate a business deal that many don’t know how to navigate. I offer all types of knowledge on how to price homes, if the value a home we are looking at matches with the price, how to get an offer noticed when we are in a market where every home is receiving multiple offers.  I can definitely suggest homes, and I do, but I can’t decide for a buyer what home they get a feeling about and want to put an offer on. I am not quite sure if you are trying to encourage me or make me feel like I do not know what I am doing, but I do think using the internet as an advantage and not holding listings and pictures hostage is where the future of our business already is and will continue to go. Not understanding how buyers are today and working with them where they are at is going to be a crippling factor to many Realtors if they do not learn how to use the vast and great tool of the internet. And with that, I believe I am going to stop commenting. grin

Rick DeVoss on 04/14/2015

Well, everyone may have a different way of doing business, but some of our responsibilities as the Buyer’s Agent have not changed.  I smiled at what you wrote, because it is a quite different approach, and makes me wonder about the level of service being provided by all the fairly new agents out there…

Sorry if this sounds personal, but I am just responding to what you wrote about your own business practices.  —-You said you have only worked with “friends and family”, so I take it you have limited experience.  ~But, really, now, do you feel that your duties and responsibilities are lessened BECAUSE you are only working with “friends and family”...?  ~How will that change when you get out in the real world of Real Estate and start working with strangers…?

That concept scares me.  (...or it would if I were your family or in your circle of friends.)  ~As a Realtor, we all have the same fiduciary duties to ALL of our clients.  I may be “old school”, but I can’t picture letting my buyer clients tell me which houses we are going to look at.  If I am not providing them with any more service than that, then they just need someone to unlock the house!!

You also made a statement that frightens me when you said “My area is…the entire DFW Metroplex…and beyond!”  ~I don’t see how it is possible for an Agent to claim to be an expert on property values across the broad scope of an area as large as this Metroplex.  I would not even think of telling a buyer that I could represent his best interests in buying a house in Plano while I am only knowledgeable of the values in Tarrant County.  —-Now, I might offer to show a close friend houses in Dallas County, but only with the stipulation that they understand my limitations when I step outside of the area that I am truly familiar with.

This is why I do not show and sell Commercial Real Estate.  I am an expert only in Residential.  And only then in the “back yard” area where I am familiar with current market values.  Yes, I know we can all do the comps from MLS on any area that is in the database, but would you really have a good answer for them when they ask you “How much do you think I should offer them on this property?”

I do not agree with you about letting the buyer look at all their photos on the internet first, and then telling ME which houses we will look at.  I feel that my job is to be the expert at selecting which houses best fit the needs of my client.  They don’t need to see ANY pictures in order for me to find them the right group of houses to preview.  The first step in the process is consulting with a Realtor, NOT driving around looking at houses, or surfing the internet for photographs.  Once they sit down with me, and we consult about their ‘needs vs. their wants’, then I will put together the list of properties we are going to look at.  And then the probability of us finding the right house very quickly goes up considerably.

The other thing we do at that first sit down consultation is to have a discussion about qualifying for a loan, and the financial issues that may be involved.  First-time buyers can really screw up an application if they are not careful, and then they will be rejected by the loan officer, and probably won’t buy a house from You.  They may take months to fix their credit report, and by then, they will call another agent on another sign.  Learn how to qualify your buyer and what it takes to get approved for a loan.

Nobody ever bought a house (from me) just by looking at the pictures that some agent put on the internet.  They still have to walk through the house first!  —And most agents are not professional photographers anyway…

My only suggestion is for you (and any other agent new to the business) to draw a circle around the area that you want to specialize in, and then become very familiar with it.  You should know the market values in every neighborhood that you are driving through.  (without looking it up on your mobile device)  ~For most people, that is an area close to where they live.  Or, it could be an area close to your office.  But if you think you can “show houses” from Plano to Possum Kingdom, you are not providing your client with any true expertise.

My other suggestion is to take as many “continuing” education courses as you possibly can, and don’t limit yourself to the state required minimums.



Jenna Whitehead on 04/14/2015

My broker has been in the business for decades; she loves to tell me about how difficult it used to be to show houses. Being a Realtor only in the digital era, I couldn’t imagine only being handed a book each week with the listings and then having to drive to get a key from a broker and driving it back each time. It’s nuts! Back then, she told me they could really only work in a small area. They had to pick a city and stay there, mainly because who you knew was important and also driving would be incredibly expensive with all that you had to do. We just aren’t in that time anymore. My area consists of the entire DFW Metroplex and beyond! I have really only worked with friends and family so we talk pretty extensively about what my responsibility is. I also work with great lenders who discuss price and payment amounts before we start looking. I guess when I Said, “What they can afford” meant “This is what kind of house I will get in this city for this budget in this neighborhood.” A client being able to have control over their search, to me, is great. They can look all over a metroplex at pictures and prices before telling me which city they would like to move. This helps me save time by then sending them updated listings via email that fit their criteria. Depending on what that might be, they might get 10 a day. As a Realtor, I would rather them look at pictures and square footage, etc online and rule out a house and only take them to look at houses they really will love or think they might love. I couldn’t imagine them not seeing pictures before we go look. What a waste of everyone’s time! I think having access to MLS listings whichever site they use is much more efficient for all involved. I pay use of MLS, yes, but what I feel like I pay for in my dues is not just MLS, but also ZipForms, Digital Ink E Signature service, CSS scheduling, etc. These things all make my job much easier and cost effective.

Rick DeVoss on 04/14/2015

I shall assume you are a generation or two younger than I am, and that means we have different opinions from our different experiences.  One or both of us will have to adjust and adapt in order to be successful.  (But I really don’t think this ‘new’ way of doing business is helping new agents.)

Let me ask you:  Why does the local Board force all this “Security” down our throats just for a Realtor to gain access to the MLS…??  It makes me laugh when the average young(er) buyer can access the entire database much faster on his mobile device than I can on my laptop!  If HE doesn’t need security codes to get in, why should I have to constantly be changing my password, and having to log back in every time I stop to answer the phone?  —-The Board used to flail us with a whip if we gave anyone access to our MLS books.  What a joke!  ~Now that NAR has figured out how to make money off the internet, it is OK for them to give the public access to the data, but it was not OK for an Agent to do that. 

Your comments,  Jenna, seem to have assumed that you already have a buyer, and THEN you think it is OK for him to search the MLS list of properties without you.  ~But what about the process of acquiring the buyer in the first place?  We, as individual agents should be the ones to give the access code to the buyer, not NAR!

I wasn’t talking about the definition of your job as an agent.  But the problem is that 9 out of 10 buyers don’t really care what your job description is.  They just want to look at pictures of houses on their mobile device…(while driving in freeway traffic)... The average customer is not searching for a Realtor, (as they should be), so we haven’t properly educated them about the process.  We have just given them a complete list of all the houses for sale, and then they stumble across some agent who is paying for an ad on the internet.  (and paying dearly!)  ~Your list of all that you do for your clients is fabulous, but most of them could not recite that list back to you, even after they have bought a house.  ~That is Not what they are looking for when they slip into the MLS even faster than I can get in.  ...Sure we need to protect our listings so no one can ‘change’ the data, but why can’t my laptop stay logged in?  Nobody has access to my laptop, so it is a lot more secure than some mobile device.
P.S. > None of the people in the MLS department at the Board could answer my question either…

Your last sentence strikes me as funny.  Most of the buyers I work with don’t really know what they can afford, and so we have a consultation about ‘qualifying.’  —-Maybe it is because I work with a lot of first-time buyers.  Many times I find that the husband and wife have not even communicated with each other to determine the parameters for a proper search.  And even when it comes to the almighty “location” parameter, I find that I am educating them on where to go to find houses in the right price range. —-I would never consider it “saving me time & energy”; ...I just think that is part of my job as their Realtor…


Jenna Whitehead on 04/14/2015

Hmmm. I understand your opinion on this but this is the society we live in today. I feel lately like my real job doesn’t come from finding people houses, it comes from giving advice, facilitating transactions that my clients don’t know how to do, being able to make the purchasing process go smoothly by being able to communicate with title companies and lenders, and in this market, knowing what to offer and how to present it so a seller will choose my buyer. I feel as though finding a house online is something anyone can do. When buyers start looking, they will send me houses upon houses because they are excited and are trying to figure out what they want. I am OK with that. It doesn’t mean we go and look at every house, it just means they are looking. Looking at houses on MLS isn’t the same as being a Realtor - yes, we pay for MLS access but I am not sure I want to “hoard” it from my buyers if it means they are just going to find the info somewhere else. In the beginning, I want them to look online as much as they want. It saves me time and energy and it helps them hone in on what they can afford, what they really want in a house, and where they want to look.

Rick DeVoss on 04/02/2015

If the MLS is a “private” database to be accessed by Realtors, ...then why is everybody giving it away to customers for free?  ~I had to pay to become a member of MLS, but since the advent of the internet, it seems the average broker thinks it is OK to let anybody have access to the database through his or her website.

In the old days, we were told by the Association not to hand out our MLS books to anyone!  Now, they just give away the MLS data to anyone smart enough to know how to use a computer.  Why didn’t NAR protect us on that issue??  ~Why does every potential buyer have to have instant gratification and gain access to all the property information without having to contact a Realtor first?

Did we really do ourselves any good on this issue, ...or did we shoot ourselves in the foot?  It would seem like it all goes back to the evil that drives our society:  Money!  ...if somebody weren’t making money off of giving access to all these websites, then maybe we wouldn’t be doing it that way.

The only thing a Realtor can do that any member of the public can’t do is search the database about 15 minutes faster, or submit a listing.  ~How again does that benefit us…?


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