“What is an MLS, anyway?”
Many of us in the MLS industry hear this question. Anytime someone unfamiliar with real estate asks me what I do for a living, and I tell them I work for an MLS, that is the first question out of their mouth.
Trying to explain exactly what the MLS is might be a minor annoyance at a cocktail party. For real estate professionals, however, it can be a major concern. A client’s knowledge of the MLS can make or break your chance at earning a new listing or closing a deal.
That’s why we’ve put together this brief guide for real estate professionals of all experience levels. Although one blog post can’t completely explain all the responsibilities and activities of the MLS, we can at least cover the basics. We’ll detail how the MLS’s critical functions impact your clients, and give you the language you need to communicate those functions. In doing so, we’ll help you communicate with the people who you need to understand you most: your clients.
Here are four talking points to use with your clients when they ask you about the MLS:
1. The MLS gives buyers the best picture of available properties.
In today’s real estate landscape, consumers have more choice and access to information than ever before. That doesn’t mean that the information consumers see online is current, accurate, or complete. The MLS stands out as the platform that provides access to the best picture of what’s on the market.
Your clients get bombarded with noise about homes: advertisements, online listing portals, even word-of-mouth rumors. That’s why professional help like yours is so valuable. As an MLS user, you can cut through the static and give your clients data they can trust.
Sample client question: “How do I know these homes are actually available? I saw a house I liked online, but it had already sold.”
Sample talking point: “I have access to the MLS, which shows me which homes in this area are available and seeking buyers. My MLS is accurate and the ‘source of truth’ on these properties. It’s not advertising homes that have already sold, sellers that are ‘thinking’ about selling, or general price estimates.”
2. The MLS gives sellers exposure to professionals like nothing else.
When a seller puts their listing in the MLS, their home goes in front of nearly every professional currently working with active buyers in the MLS’s coverage area. It’s not just about getting the most eyeballs on a listing – it’s about getting the right ones. While popular sites cater to curiosity, listing in an MLS is the surest way to reach buyers serious about closing.
Depending on your brokerage and your MLS, you may have even more options. Many brokers and MLSs push their listing data to online portals, agent websites, even social media. When you use your local MLS, you and your clients have the power of choice. You can choose from the widest available array of options for getting the word out about your listing.
Sample client question: “How are we going to find a buyer?”
Sample talking point: “If you want interest from buyers’ agents, you need to have me put your listing in the MLS. There’s no better place to find professionals representing active buyers.”
3. The MLS keeps data reliable, compliant, and safe.
The MLS is more than just a place to find listings. It’s also a self-regulating institution. When you see a listing in the MLS, you trust that it contains accurate information and complies with the MLS rules and regulations. That’s why many MLSs have compliance departments. Their job is to respond to reports of policy violations as soon as possible and enforce those policies when necessary. MLS rules and regulations exist so that you can have confidence that everyone is playing by the rules.
Think of what your job would be like without the MLS. You’d have no way of knowing if the people on the other end of the transaction follow the same industry rules you do. MLSs enforce those rules to give our users the certainty that they’re dealing in a marketplace of professionals.
Sample client question: “This house looks good, but how do know if it is what it says it is?”
Sample talking point: “Rest assured, listing data in the MLS is enforced to ensure accuracy and compliance.”
4. The MLS is a community.
The MLS isn’t just for real estate professionals. It is real estate professionals. The rules the MLS operates by, the decisions it makes, the regulations it enforces: all are guided by real estate professionals. (There are many types of MLS ownership. Depending on your MLS, representation and leadership can come from a single Association or Board, multiple participating Associations and/or Boards, or area brokers.)
As an MLS user, you can be an active participant in shaping how real estate operates in your area.
Sample client question: “Why do we have to do things this way? Can’t we make this process a little easier?”
Sample talking point: “You raise a good point. As a member of the MLS, I have a voice when it comes to the rules. I’ll contact my Association and share your concern to ensure it is considered for future updates.”
Use these talking points freely and often. Before you know it, you won’t have to explain the Multiple Listing Service to anybody. Your clients will be better educated and better equipped to handle the challenge of buying a home. Now go out and spread the word!