CEO’s Message – Hello MLS


Multiple Listing Service.

If you’re a real estate professional, it’s probably a term you hear quite a bit. You know it because you use it for your business every day. It’s how you find property listing data, or how other agents find yours.

But the MLS is more than a tool. It is a crucial member of a thriving business community. It has supported one of America’s oldest industries for more than 100 years.

This blog will be a place for CRMLS to foster that relationship with you, our subscribers. We will keep you apprised of changes within the California MLS landscape, unique market analysis derived from our wealth of property data, and emerging trends and technologies within the industry.

So, in the spirit of getting to know each other, I’ll begin by answering a very simple question.

What does the MLS do?

Let’s take it back to basics.

The CORE purpose of a Multiple Listing Service is to serve real estate brokers and agents, and to make it as easy as possible for them to serve their consumers.

Seems simple right? Should go without saying.

But how do we do that? How do we serve? You might think, “Easy. The MLS is where I post my listings, and where I find listing information for my clients looking to buy.” That’s not wrong. That is part of what an MLS does. We provide a venue for sharing listing data.

But let’s examine the fundamental concepts that led to this practice in the first place:

cooperation and compensation


The real estate industry in the United States is unique. It is unlike any other in the world. Why? Because we have brokers and agents competing in the same marketplace, who with the help of the MLS, work together to deliver successful transactions to their consumers.

This willingness to cooperate is implicit in every real estate professional’s decision to join an MLS. When you post a listing you are not only notifying consumers about your client’s home for sale, you are agreeing to work together with outside brokerages who come to you with a ready and willing buyer.


We can probably all agree that compensation is a pretty integral part of running a successful business, yes?

Part of the MLS’s promise to its members is facilitating and enforcing the contractual obligation of listing agents to compensate cooperating brokerages when they produce buyers.

When you have a buyer for a property, there is no doubt, no confusion about whether you’ll be compensated fairly. It says it right there in the listing, and the information in the listing is binding. That way, we protect you, the brokers and agents, and we protect to the consumer. And you can trust that.

At the end of the day, that is what the MLS is about. Trust. Integrity.

When someone posts a listing through CRMLS, we’re not only distributing your listings to 80,000 other agents in the MLS, plus 20,000 IDX sites, plus over 60 consumer-facing search portals – we are ensuring that the data you see there is accurate and current. You can trust that claim because we have an entire department dedicated to rooting out bad data and enforcing listing regulations that help level the playing field for all of our subscribers.

Multiple Listing Service – We distribute data. We check its accuracy. We facilitate cooperation and transparent compensation practices for a fair marketplace.

We strive to make it as easy as possible for you to lead a successful business as a real estate professional.

That’s what we do.

Be sure to watch for upcoming posts about HOW we do what we do, the state of the real estate industry, and what we can all do to help guide it into the future.


Art Carter

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Terry Hunter

    Mr. Carter,

    The underlying database for CRMLS does not adhere to normal principles of database (db) integrity.
    Decades ago, MLS employees whose main responsibility was data integrity input listings. Today the norm is broker input.

    With the uneven ability and attention to details that broker input implies, the db should have safeguards that prevent illogical and incomplete data entry. This CLEARLY has not been the case. Some errors that allowed breaking the db integrity have been corrected, some have not. For example, it has been possible in the past (perhaps corrected now) to include “Ocean View” for a property. However, if the entering broker did not ALSO enter “View”, then the listing would not be returned by a search for (any) “view”, even though the property had “Ocean View” included in its description. This is clearly not an acceptable situation.

    It is also not something to be “voted on”. Either the db has integrity, or it doesn’t. Not a matter of voting… it’s a matter of correct db design.

    Ludicrously, discussing a similar problem involving yards, it was actually suggested in an OCAR MLS committee meeting that the way to find whether a property had a yard or not (important for pet owners) was to go to Google and look at the satellite image of the property. This may have been corrected, but should not have ever been an issue.

    There are many other examples I could present, but the point is that the db is either complete, reliable, and internally consistent, or it is not. Currently, it is not.

    Without doing a survey of what works and what doesn’t, I inadvertently & unfortunately found a property that met my client’s criteria in Zillow and Great Schools, but which did not appear in his Auto Email (from his formerly trusted professional agent). So, he could find it in Zillow & Red Fin, it appears in the CRMLS db, but was NOT returned in his search.

    Why is this so?

    Well it turns out that if a property comes from CLAW with NO HOA, it is not selected by the criteria that tech support tells me IS the correct way to search for NO HOA… ie Main HOA Fee = $1- . For all I know at this point, this approach (which, again, tech support says is the right approach, since there is no required Y/N field for HOA) doesn’t even select all the properties which DON’T come from CLAW… don’t know how widespread the problem is).
    Oh, and BTW, even now that I know the problem exists (a little late to save my relationship of trust with my buyer client), the tech tells me that there is no work-around, no way to reliably search for props with no HOA’s.

    The reason I have “gone into the weeds” with my description of the problem is twofold: 1) to demonstrate that the actual problem really currently exists and 2) to point out that it is in the class of problems that I have complained about for a decade (until I gave up in frustration and resigned from the MLS committee).

    Either the db has integrity or it does not. At present, the latter is the case, and should be fixed, once and for all (and BEFORE adding more bells & whistles).

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