Real Estate Terms: Multiple Listing Service (MLS)

Ryan Coffey
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I think that if you’ve made it as far as my Nanaimo real estate blog, you probably already have a pretty good idea of what the MLS is. Now I’m going to give you more of a working understanding of it as I beleive it’s good to know what something is but it’s better to know how to use it to your advantage. I think most of the public think of it as ‘where the listings are shown’.  These days, that is usually in reference to the website. It does bear mentioning that the MLS is much more than a website where us Realtors share our listings.

Various countries and sometimes areas/organizations of those countries have their own MLS systems. In Canada, the MLS is one great database system created by and paid for by Realtors and the various regulatory/administrative organizations to which we belong. (i.e. CREA, BCREA, VIREB) Of more interest to consumers is that there are various ways to search the MLS and use it either as a Buyer to find or as a Seller to advertise. There is the way you see in the above link, us Realtors have a couple of very refined search engines which can set that sort of search up and do much more. Us Realtors spend a lot of time looking at listings on the MLS too and although looking at a listing doesn’t compare to seeing the property in person, we know that with a practiced eye there is a lot that can be found out frm a listing and that there are many ways to find all kinds of options for Buyer and Sellers by use of the various tools. I won’t go into a lot of detail about how that works but suffice to say the consumer end I describe in the above link can be tweaked so that you see listings of all kinds created and changed in real time.

One of the key things that I think is often misunderstood by consumers is who the person to talk to for a given listing is. The main thing to understand is that if it is on the MLS, any Realtor from that area can sell it to you. That’s part and parcel of what is meant by “multiple listing”. One Realtor  is set up to represent the Seller (unless it is shared with another Realtor/small team) and every other Realtor who has a potential Buyer is working on the Buyer’s behalf. It doesn’t matter if they are from the same company or office. If the Buyer’s Realtor’s name is not on the listing contract in some way, then they are working with the Buyer by default. To put is another way, if it is on the MLS, I, as a Realtor, can help you find it. I can help you find out if you like it, and if it makes sense for you to buy it. If it doesn’t work out, I can help you find another that does. That’s my job. That’s what I do and think about all day every day and the various MLS tools at our disposal are a major tool in that effort.

So, as a consumer you should be aware that the  site is a place for us Realtors to advertise our listings in hope of getting exposure/leads etc. but you’re not getting the full picture regarding what all this info is and means without the guidance of a professional. There is more happening under the surface and it would behoove you to make use of those resources early on in your search to save you and others wasted time, stress and potentially money.


Ryan Coffey