Real Estate Term Tuesday: MLS


What is the MLS?

The MLS (Multiple Listing Service) is an online database and a valuable tool for buyers, sellers, and real estate agents to access up to date information about properties. Different regions use different MLS systems. For example, properties listed in Madison, WI use the South Central Wiscosin MLS.


How does it work?

When a new property comes on the market, real estate agents upload the listing with as many details as possible to the MLS.


Okay so agents use the MLS to list houses, but how do I use it as a buyer?

When we first meet to go over your home buying preferences, your Spencer Real Estate Group agent will keep track of what you are looking for in a home. For example, if Buyer Bill is looking for a home in a certain price range with 2-3 bedrooms, at least 1.5 bathrooms, an attached 2 car garage, and within 5 miles of the UW-Madison Hospital. Bill's agent will enter his search criteria into the MLS along with his email address. Every time a home that matches Buyer Bill's criteria comes on the market, he will get an email with the listing. Note: this is all free! I have a search set up for myself that is suspiciously similar to Buyer Bill's- it's really neat to keep an eye on the market and see the homes that fit my budget even though I'm not quite ready to buy. It's never too early to set up a search to see what kind of homes make sense for you when the time comes to actually get out and start looking.


Aren't there other websites that have property searches?

Yes! Websites such as Zillow have search tools that are helpful and I use them myself sometimes! There's nothing like visiting a new city and checking out housing prices online. However, the MLS is the most up to date site. Third party sites such as Zillow pull their information from the MLS so it is often delayed. The benefit of using the MLS is that you get information straight from the source. For example, when a house has an accepted offer and is days away from closing, Zillow still lists the home as active. We have received countless calls from clients asking us to schedule a showing on a house that a third party site has listed as active but actually already has an offer. It's like going out to dinner and looking forward to ordering the cheesecake and when it's finally time to order dessert, the restaurant is out of cheesecake. Talk about disappointing!


MLS IN A NUTSHELL: The MLS is a useful tool that buyers, sellers, and agents use to get up to date information about properties. Whether you're buying or selling a home, this is a term that will come up often!

Curious about houses in a certain area? Looking to buy in the future? Want to keep an eye on what the market is doing?  Contact Lizzy or Spencer and we'll be happy to set you up with automatic emails so you can be one of the first to know when properties come on the market!

See you back here next Tuesday!

Lizzy Parker - 608-422-2824,

Spencer Schumacher - 608-358-7622,