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What is an MLS?

MLS stands for "Multiple Listing Service," which is usually a computerized listing of virtually all the homes that are for sale in a specific area. When a Realtor lists your property for sale, they pay a fee and your home is placed on the MLS system. The big advantage to sellers is that the MLS is the #1 resource used by buyers (and agents) to locate homes. Properties that are not listed (usually those being sold by their owners) are not on the MLS, thus there are many buyers and Realtors who will not be exposed to the home. The MLS has become such a standard in real estate that no serious broker would think of trying to sell real estate without it. It would be like an accountant trying to work without a calculator. About the only residential brokers who might not use the MLS are those who exclusively handle foreclosed properties, or high-end homes owned by celebrities and the like. The MLS provides a surprising amount of detail, depending upon the area of the country it may include: the location (by zip code), size of the home (square footage), size of the lot, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, extra rooms (such as a den, family room, formal dining room, or enclosed patio), amenities (such as a backyard, fireplace, hot tub, pool, kitchen features, new carpet and drapes), capacity of garage, age of home, and of course, the selling price and terms. Buyers can narrow their house-hunting searches dramatically by using the MLS. For instance, their real estate professional can do a computer search and ask for a listing of all homes within a certain location and price range that have two or three bedrooms and that are not more than ten years old. Not only will this request generate a list of viable possibilities, it also helps buyers gauge, roughly, what they can expect to get for their money, and to compare the value of the homes listed. Thus, the MLS is more than a system that lists properties. It's an aid to both buyers and sellers, and is a definite asset to consumers when it comes to real estate.

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