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What Is MLS
MLS Multiple Listing Service
A Multiple Listing Service (MLS, also Multiple Listing System or Multiple Listings Service) is a suite of services that enables brokers to establish contractual offers of compensation (among brokers), facilitates cooperation with other broker participants, accumulates and disseminates information to enable appraisals, and is a facility for the orderly correlation and dissemination of listing information to better serve broker's clients, customers and the public. A multiple listing service's database and software is used by real estate brokers in real estate (or aircraft broker[citation needed] in other industries for example), representing sellers under a listing contract to widely share information about properties with other brokers who may represent potential buyers or wish to cooperate with a seller's broker in finding a buyer for the property or asset. The listing data stored in a multiple listing service's database is the proprietary information of the broker who has obtained a listing agreement with a property's seller.

Origin of the MLS
According to the U.S. National Association of Realtors:
In the late 1800s, real estate brokers regularly gathered at the offices of their local associations to share information about properties they were trying to sell. They agreed to compensate other brokers who helped sell those properties, and the first MLS was born, based on a fundamental principle that's unique to organized real estate: Help me sell my inventory and I'll help you sell yours.

Seen most widely in the USA and Canada, but spreading to other countries such as the UK. MLS is found in a variety of forms, the MLS combines the listings of all available properties that are represented by brokers who are both members of that MLS system and of the U.S. National Association of Realtors (NAR), Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). and (The Independent Network of Estate Agents) INEA in the UK

There is no single authoritative MLS, and no universal data format. However, in real estate there is a data standard—Real Estate Transaction Standard—which is being deployed among many MLS's in North America. The many local and private databases, using XML data feeds to input and output agents listings—some of which are controlled by single associations of realtors or groupings of associations (which represent all brokers within a given community or area) or by real estate brokers—are collectively referred to as the MLS because of their data sharing or reciprocal access agreements.

Purpose and benefits of the MLS
The primary purpose of the MLS is to provide a facility to publish a "unilateral offer of compensation" by a listing broker, to other broker participants in that MLS. In other words, the commission rate that is offered by the listing broker is published within the MLS to other cooperating brokers. This offer of compensation is considered a contractual obligation, however it can be negotiated between the listing broker and the broker representing the buyer. Since the commission for a transaction as well as the property features are contained in the MLS system, it is in the best interests of the broker participants (and thereby the public) to maintain accurate and timely data.

The additional benefit of the MLS system is that an MLS subscriber may search the MLS system and retrieve information about all homes for sale by all participating brokers. MLS systems contain hundreds of fields of information about the features of a property. These fields are determined by real estate professionals who are knowledgeable and experienced in that local marketplace. Whereas public real estate websites contain only a small subset of property data.[citation needed]

Limitations of access and Criticisms of MLS
Most MLS systems restrict membership and access to real estate brokers (and their agents) who are appropriately licensed by the state (or province); are members of a local board or association of realtors; and are members of the trade association (e.g., NAR or CREA). Access is becoming more open as internet sites offer the public the ability to view portions of MLS listings. There still remains a fair amount of scrutiny over access to information within MLS; generally, only agents who are compensated proportional to the value of the sale have uninhibited access to the MLS database. Many public web forums have a limited ability in terms of reviewing comparable properties, past sales prices or monthly supply statistics. This represents the corner stone of several ongoing arguments about the current health of the real-estate market, which are centered around free and open information being necessary for both the buying and selling parties to ensure fair prices are negotiated during closing, ultimately allowing a stable and less volatile market.

A person selling his/her own property - acting as a For Sale By Owner (or FSBO) - cannot generally put a listing for the home directly into the MLS. An example of an exception to this general practice is the MLS for Spain, AMLASpain, where FSBO listing are allowed. Similarly, a properly licensed broker who chooses to neither join the trade association nor operate a business within the association's rules, cannot join the MLS. However, there are brokers and many online services which offer FSBO sellers the option of listing their property in their local MLS database by paying a flat fee or another non-traditional compensation method.

In Canada, CREA has come under severe scrutiny and investigation by the Competition Bureau and litigation by former CREA member and real estate brokerage, Realtysellers (Ontario) Ltd., for their control over the Canadian MLS system. In 2001, Realtysellers (Ontario) Ltd., a discount real-estate firm was launched that reduced the role of agents and the commissions they collect from homebuyers and sellers. The brokerage later shutdown and launched a $100million lawsuit against CREA and TREB, alleging that they breached an earlier out-of-court settlement that the parties entered into in 2003.

MLS Systems in North America
In North America, the MLS systems are governed by private entities, and the rules are set by those entities with no state or federal oversight, beyond any individual state rules regarding real estate. MLS systems set their own rules for membership, access, and sharing of information, but are subject to nationwide rules laid down by NAR or CREA. An MLS may be owned and operated by a real estate company, a county or regional real estate board of realtors or association of realtors, or by a trade association. Membership of the MLS is generally considered to be essential to the practice of real estate brokerage.

Canada
In Canada, MLS is a cooperative system for the 98,000+ members of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), working through Canada's 101 real estate boards and 11 provincial/territorial associations.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) claims to have pioneered the first MLS in Canada.

A publicly accessible website (at realtor.ca, formerly mls.ca) allows consumers to search an aggregated subset of each participating board's MLS database of active listings, providing limited details and directing consumers to contact a Realtor for more information.

 

Source: Wikipedia



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Real Estate News:
GTA REALTORS® RELEASE MID-MONTH RESALE HOUSING FIGURES
TORONTO, February 19, 2013 – Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 2,823 sales through the TorontoMLS system during the first 14 days of February. This result represented a decline of 8.3 per cent compared to the same period in 2012.
"The number of transactions was lower for most home types in comparison to last year, but so too was the number of new listings. This means that market conditions remained quite tight, especially for low- rise home types. The result was continued price growth over last year," said Toronto Real Estate Board President Ann Hannah.
The average selling price for TorontoMLS transactions in the first half of February was $509,061 – up by four per cent in comparison to the same time last year.
"The annual rate of price growth so far in February has been in line with expectations for [.... read more]


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