One very important tool for real estate agents and the clients they assist is the Multiple Listing Service. The “MLS” as it’s widely known by is an online database that agents use to load their “listings” (properties for sale or rent) into for other agents to access for their clients. As technology has emerged the way agents do business has evolved from a three ring binder to the MLS as a one stop database and even now to a syndication portal allowing agents to gain even more exposure for their seller clients with popular online websites like Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, RedFin and many more!
Did you know that the Multiple Listing Service and the Association of Realtors is not the same? The public and many agents think that the local Board of Realtors owns the MLS and this is not accurate information. As we venture through this article about the Multiple Listing Service we’ll cover topics such as these and many more.
Multiple Listing Service Usage through Board of Realtors Membership
In order for a Realtor to tap into this incredible real estate database they must be a member of a local association of realtors. As such a real estate company with multiple offices like ours will be part of many different local associations and Multiple Listing Service providers. One good thing about the associations that our offices have chosen to join is that both the Conejo Simi Moorpark Association of Realtors (CSMAOR) which serves Conejo Valley (Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Westlake Village, Oak Park, Agoura Hills), Simi Valley and Moorpark area and the Bakersfield Association of Realtors (BAOFR) which serves Kern County both compliment each-other without cooperating with each other. This means that many different associations like the two I mentioned are careful to protect their local agents from out of the area agents so that the clients the agent serves are best represented by local professionals. As member of both these associations, selling clients served by Tholco will realize the added benefit of massive exposure in all California MLS’s while Buyers will have a vast network of available homes in the entire state available at their fingertips. All this while ensuring clients are best protected by local professionals with community expertise.
Listing VS Not Listing in the MLS
So now you know just how important the MLS is as a tool to Realtors but why does it really matter to Sellers? Well, that question is easily answered with one word “Multiplication”! To further explain, would you want one agent working to sell your home or thousands of agents in the local community? When your property is listed in the Multiple Listing Service you get the added benefit of all the local agents that are members of the MLS working to sell your property. While the California Association of Realtors Listing Agreement provides a Seller the option to opt-out of the MLS in the listing agreement, being listed in the MLS is really one of the best ways for your property to get the most exposure when listing your property for sale.
Before the “For Sale Sign” goes in the yard, brochures are distributed and really any other marketing takes place a Seller should be aware of the lack of traffic not being in the MLS will cause. As a Seller, your Agents job is to provide your property with as much exposure possible. This means letting other agents know about your home so those agents can tell their clients. Not being listed in the local Multiple Listing Service is just not a good idea unless you don’t want traffic for one reason or another.
Similarly as a Buyer you’ll want to look at as many properties you can to make the best choice when it comes to buying a home. Don’t think for once second that all properties are listed on Zillow because they’re not. Realtors actually have the choice when thy’re listing a home for sale to not list properties on the major real estate marketing giant and some choose not to. This is called syndication which we’ll get into later. As a Buyer you’re absolute best resource when looking to buy a home is to choose a Realtor, they’ll help guide you along the way and can also give you advise on what options are available and customary in the local area for home searches. Read more about our reviews here.
The MLS Database
The Multiple Listing Service is a database that stores all information for properties that are currently for sale, under contract with buyers and that have sold in the past. The MLS also includes properties for rent although different geographic areas may have more or less rentals depending on the market customs in the area. For instance Bakersfield Multiple Listing Service has very few rental properties whereas Conejo Simi Moorpark Multiple Listing Service carries a large inventory of rental properties. Regardless of the property type, sellers wanting to sell their property and owners choosing to rent will always want the most exposure and one of the the best ways to make this happen is to be listed on the Multiple Listing Service.
When a Realtor loads a property into the MLS there are many fields that must be completed. Items such as who the agent is that’ll be marketing the property, property type such as single family, multi-family or commercial to name a few and the property details like square footage, room counts, price and property description are just some of the required items. Completing all the required fields and many of the optional fields like the amenities a property has such as cul-de-sac lot, rv parking, pool and solar to name a few is the best way for your property to get the most exposure. When a prospective buyer or renter does an online search on a major real estate website like Zillow, Realtor or Trulia and filters items like square footage, bedroom count, area, etc you’ll be sure that your property will be visible as long as the fields are properly and completely populated.
Using the Multiple Listing Service as a Marketing Tool
Jason Thoele is a top selling agent (click here to learn more about him) and as you’ll see in his marketing he uses the MLS not just as a “Database for Agents” but as a great marketing tool. A couple very important elements of the information required in the MLS are the photos, property description, virtual media and syndication. How an agent chooses to use these fields can really set the pace for whether the property will sell quickly or not and may likely play a part in buyer interest level and visitor traffic which turns into offers and ultimately a selling price. With over 90% of buyers shopping online now Sellers will want to make sure their property is marketed properly and professionally. This means a full set of professionally taken photos, video tours and accurately written property description content as you’ll see in the following example, click here.
Why is this all important? …we’ll cover this next in Technology.
Since we’ve discussed the inner-workings of the Multiple Listing Service and it’s database it only seems natural to also discuss how today’s technology compliments those items. Sellers not taking advantage of the traffic on the major websites such as Zillow, Realtor and many other sites are not getting the exposure necessary to sell their homes…properly. Luckily in today’s technology and the MLS there is something called syndication. Syndication takes all the data loaded into all the required and optional fields and maps them over to the fields in the major websites so it’s a plug and play solution. This saves Realtors a ton of time, if your property is not listed in the MLS then you may also be missing out on a lot of other traffic that the Multiple Listing Service feeds to.
Now, let’s take a little walk down memory lane to see how technology has evolved in the real estate business and helped agents and their clients in the past 30 years since the early 1990’s. Did you know before the internet that agents used three ring binders filled with the listings for the local area? This bulky and ever-changing binder would be updated daily with properties that were sold, went under contract and new listings. Realtors would meet with their clients go through the binder to show potential properties and then go tour homes. I am so thankful of the internet and all the ways technology has helped us as agents better assist our clients!
As you’ll see in the Coverage Map for the California Regional Multiple Listing Service (CRMLS) the coverage from the statewide MLS is very extensive but doesn’t cover all areas. While it may be the Nation’s Largest and Most Recognized MLS by their claim they still show many gaps in the state. Interestingly, this lack in coverage isn’t their fault as we’ve discussed earlier many local Associations of Realtors and there are a lot as shown here choose not to cooperate with the CRMLS. Everyone has their own opinions and theories on why local associations don’t cooperate and some are positive, some well… not so positive. At any rate it is what it is and for a Realtor to truly benefit and provide as much exposure as possible to their clients it’s best to become a member at a couple surrounding associations and join the MLS they use. If you’re an agent looking to join an additional association make sure to do your homework so as not to overlap on an MLS you’re already paying for.
Our office is presently members of two boards or Association of Realtors. We carry membership in the Bakersfield Association of Realtors as well as the Conejo Simi Moorpark Association of Realtors. The Bakersfield Association which uses Rappatoni MLS and the Conejo Association which uses Flex MLS have chosen not to share data with each other. Both Rappatoni and Flex MLS service providers do share data providing the association will allow it. Sharing data means a Bakersfield agent could go on the MLS and look at properties in other areas and likewise for Conejo. Without sharing capabilities a Realtor looking for properties in an area that is not shared will produce zero results in their search even though their are many properties listed in the other MLS. If you’d like additional information on this please feel free to reach out to us directly using our contact us link in the menu header.
Benefits of Multiple MLS
Being a member of many Multiple Listing Services is a huge benefit for Realtor and client alike. Realtors receive the benefit of vast exposure in marketing for their sellers and additional coverage for their Buyers. As well, an agent using multiple MLS providers will be of more assistance to their clients than that of one only pursuing local coverage. In today’s technological age, Buyers can pretty much do everything search wise an agent can so if as an agent you’re not presenting ALL the available properties you can to your Buyer they’ll most certainly loose faith in you and your abilities in finding them a home. With the major real estate websites leveling the playing field on search abilities you as an agent really need to shine where we matter most and that’s in representing our client through the transaction.
Let’s face it… Any agent can open a door for a Buyer but not all agents can properly represent a client!
Association cooperation and non-cooperation
Association cooperation and/or non-cooperation is the ability to share data across Multiple Listing Services. Cooperation means that a MLS and the local Board of Realtors have elected to share their regions data, i.e. listings and information to other out of the area Multiple Listing Services and Realtor Boards. This “Cooperation” cures an on-going issue of non-cohesiveness and allows Realtors in their local regions to market to out of the area agents and gain additional exposure for their selling clients. Some Board of Realtors choose not to cooperate and this is not necessarily a thing, for instance it protects the local Realtors from out of the area agents that may not know the market as well and protects their community clients. The unfortunate part to this process is that there is not a one-size fits all answer. It’s positive for the clients to get exposure but a client most likely doesn’t want representation from an inexperienced out of the area agent. So in lies the vicious circle…
Agents looking to do what’s best for their clients should join more than one Board of Realtors and Multiple Listing Service. Multiple memberships will create larger seamless coverage areas for clients looking to sell a home and also provides more access to a Realtor looking for the perfect home for a Buyer. Of course there is additional cost involved to join multiple boards and MLS’s but that’s what we justify as cost of doing business. It’s easier just to join a couple extra Multiple Listing Services than getting caught up in the local association of Realtors politics and drama that cause non-cooperation.
In closing, if you’re looking to Buy or Sell a home in any of the areas we service; Bakersfield, Shafter, Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Camarillo, Simi Valley, San Fernando, Ventura, Moorpark, Oxnard, Westlake Village, Calabasas, Oak Park, Agoura Hills, El Segundo, Culver City then please contact us and we’ll discuss the next steps. We are proud to carry a 5 star rating on Zillow, Realtor and Yelp and would appreciate the opportunity to wow you with the service we provide.