Using The Multiple Listing Service As A Home Buyer

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The multiple listing service (MLS) is a powerful database used by real estate professionals to gain a lot of information about homes. What is found in the MLS benefits those selling homes but it also can provide buyers with a wealth of information that makes the difference in a real estate transaction. To learn a bit more about the MLS as you begin your home search, read below.

What Can Be Found in the MLS?

This information-filled resource is not a single website but many all across the country. Your local MLS may concern listings and information about homes in a distinct area. Therefore, you will need to access the MLS that applies to the area in which you intend to buy a home. To give buyers a better idea of what they can find in the MLS, take a look at these useful facets of the MLS. You can often find: 

  1. Both the legal address, the street address, and sometimes, geographical coordinates. Some property tax agencies use the legal address rather than the street address. \
  2. Basic measurements about the home and lot. Square footage of each room is often included which allows buyers to compare room sizes before they even visit the home in person.
  3. The types of heating, cooling, and waste disposal. For example, rural homes may have a septic system rather than city sewage disposal.
  4. How the home was constructed. This can be important for buyers looking for concrete block, brick, or wooden homes. The presence of a basement along with additional floors are also listed. In some cases, floor coverings are listed. That may be important to buyers planning to use a government-backed mortgage because they may have restrictions on certain types of flooring.
  5. Fees and expenses. That may mean homeowners' association (HOA) fee disclosures, property tax estimates, homeowners' insurance estimates, and more. If flood or hurricane insurance is required at that location, that may be noted.
  6. Past pricing information. This can help buyers find out the original price for the home, the price each time it sold, and how long it has been on the market.

Talk to Your Real Estate Agent

Not all MLS sites are open to the general public. In some cases, though, a consumer version of the MLS may be made public. If you wish to access the MLS, your agent may be able to hook you up via a password or link so that you can do as much research as possible as you narrow down your home choices. To find out more, speak to your real estate agent about using the local MLS and single-family homes