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What is MLS and How to Use it to Find Deals

MLS is an acronym for multiple listing service. It is a system that real estate agents use to share information about homes for sale among themselves. Once a home owner wants to sell a home for whatever reasons and they contact a professional real estate agent, it is likely that the agent would enter the information about the property on the multiple listing service. This way other real estate agents can also access the information.

When a broker enters information about a home sale on the MLS they would need to enter all relevant data such as address, square footage, age, features, facilities and number of bedrooms, baths and available baths. The information entered could also include nearby schools and available financing methods that the seller would be willing to accept. The data would also include a dozen photos and more and sometimes a virtual tour of the home.

In the past, several decades ago, information about homes for sale was published in print format as books monthly. The publications were then updated weekly and you can imagine the inconveniences of carting and using such large sized books around. Today, the information is available to real estate agents online via the multiple listing service.

Almost every home available for sale today would end up on the listing service. In fact unless, there is a direct indication not to include in on MLS by the seller, a property for sale would likely end up on the listing service. The other complication is that the listing service is not available to just anyone, at least not directly. Non-real estate agents would have to go through a registered real estate agent to gain access to the listings.

Since the MLS is a portal that contains almost all properties and homes available for sale, some savvy investors use the listing as a sort of gold mine to take advantage of great deals that they can buy and resell for a profit. If you are looking to invest in properties this listing service is great for you to find good deals of homes you can purchase, renovate and sell again for an enviable profit. However, you can only use this listing if you know how to go about it the right way.

If you ask many people who have access to the multiple listing service or who has seen a listing before, they will tell you that they couldn’t find any attractive deals. In fact, at face value you would hardly find an offer that clearly looks like a good deal that would allow you make a profit at the end of the day. Yet, several experienced investors are regularly making a killing milking this listing service for great home deals.

To begin you would need to get a real estate agent to work with because they are gatekeepers of sort and you can only gain access to the listing service through them. If you are a serious investor, many agents and brokers with access will be willing to help as they would be making commissions with any purchases or eventual sales they help you with.

When you get access to the listings, expect to see many homes that even seem over priced that their realistic market value. Do not be discouraged because that is just the asking price for the property. When a home wants to sell a property, they will contact a professional agent who would value the house based on several factors. The professional will take cognizance of factors such as the state of the house, market conditions and the cost of repairs and renovations that would have to be done by the new owner.

Owners are usually disappointed with the estimate that they get as they would always be looking out to get more. They would thus ask the professional agent to list an asking price higher than the appraised value so as to have room to negotiate. What this means is that most of the homes listed on the service would be sold for less than the asking price. You can expect to sometimes get as much as 30% off the asking price as final selling price.

You should also note that some home owners are in financial straits that necessitate that they sell off the property as soon as possible. This could also affect a seller to go lower than the asking price. So when you look through a listing service you can spot great deals if you know what to look for.

For starters, look for houses that are relatively cheaper than other similar houses in the same area. The small price reduction is a sign that the owner is in a hurry to sell. Also look out for homes that have spent some time on the listing without being sold. The more time that elapses, the more the seller may be willing to go even lower to sell off the property. Listings that have spent as much as 90 days would expire soon and so they are great to start with.

Next, be on the look out for particular terms or keywords used in the descriptions of the homes that would indicate that the owner would love to sell off quickly. Terms such as “motivated seller,” "make offer," “handy man’s special," “will consider all offers,” “must sell,” “bank owned,” “relocating,” “military family’” “needs work,” “vacant,” “estate sale,” “fixer-upper,” “tenant occupied,” “sold as in,” “seller out of town,” “lender owned,” “no FHA/VA” and “sold to settle estate.” All the above mentioned terms are signs that the owner may be willing to sell a lot less than the asking price to dispose off the property.

Using these simple tools to look through the multiple listing service will help you find out great deals that you can profit from. However, you would never know how good the deal is or can be unless you make an offer. So make a list of deals from the MLS with potentials and have the estate agent make offers for you. Expect the owner to make a counter offer but its all part of the negotiation process. The more offers you make, the more good deals you would find and close to your profit.

Why You Should List Your Home with MLS

The MLS or multiple listing service is a database of homes and properties available for sale. The homes are listed by registered real estate agents and firms who have properties for sale with the locality. Almost all home that are to be sold get listed on this service. Registered realtors who get contacted by home owners to sell their homes for them, always first list the homes on the service because of the many benefits the listing can bring. Even FSBO homes that the owners want to sell themselves without the help of an agent also gets listed as most home owners are also now aware of the benefits of the service.

In the past, before the introduction of the internet, there use to be monthly publications that contained information of homes available for sale. The publication was updated weekly and registered real estate agents and brokers would use the publication to facilitate quick selling and buying of homes. The aim of the publication was to make it easier for realtors to share information of properties that they are looking for or want to sell on behalf of their clients. You can imagine how useful such a shared database would be as it made searching for and advertising of properties easier.

The multiple listing service is the reinvention of that old publication as the information is now easily shared online among registered estate agents and brokers. Realtors all within your local community and beyond all have access to the information on the service. By listing your property on the service, you are literally telling hundreds of people about your property. Real estate agents, wholesale investors and brokers regularly check the service for new listings.

If you are trying to sell you property via a registered agent, you do not have to pay anything extra to get your home listed on the service. As a registered realtor, the agent has access to the service and can easily do the listing for you on the MLS. The agent would provide at least 12 photos of your home along with all other relevant data. Information to be shared on the listing include the address of the home, age, building style, square footage, number of rooms, condition of the home, unique features such as swimming pools, garage, marble or paneled floors and other relevant data. The agent would try to put relevant information to make the home attractive to prospective buyers. They could also include a virtual tour of the home.

You can imagine the power of having several real estate agents helping you to sell you home. This is one of the major advantages you derive by listing your home with the service. Other agents know that they would get a slice of the commission if they are able to help sell the home and so some of the local agents would put in some effort to help you get a buyer. If the agents get prospective buyers who are looking for your type of property they would be sure to let them know.

Even agents and realtors outside your area can become aware of your property via the MLS. The service allows agents to make online searches for homes. Investors seeking to invest in real estate within your locality would thus be able to get information about your home and then make offers. Agents acting on behalf of clients seeking to relocate to your locality can also make searches on the service and then get to see your home. Homes that are listed on the multiple listing service gets tons of more exposure compared to homes that are not. This makes it easier and quicker to sell homes listed on the service.

FSBO homes or homes that the owners want to sell themselves without the help of a realtor can also get listed on the service although not directly. MLS can only be access by registered property agents. If you are a home owner who wants to handle the sales of your property yourself, you can contact a registered agent to help you only make the listing. Many real estate firms now take a flat fee to help FSBO home owners to make listing on the service. The agent can help make the listing and leave the selling of the home to you so that you don’t have to pay them a commission when you eventually sell the home. Although selling your home via a professional real estate agent offers several advantages such as better value and faster sales, you would still benefit significantly from the increased exposure that listing on MLS can bring you.

As it has been mentioned above, the multiple listing service is a system that allows real estate agents to share information among themselves. They post information about homes and properties for sale so that other real estate investors and agents can access this information. The system was created to facilitate the exchange of information among these professionals to facilitate the smooth and quick selling of properties. Properties listed in the MLS usually get sold in less than 6 months of listing. An agent who is a professional knows the important of this service and would always list homes that they want to sell on behalf of clients on the service.

The many benefits of listing on the multiple listing service includes the increased exposure that the listing brings. By listing, the home becomes visible to several other agents representing investors and buyers. The agent can also harness the power of the other agents as they can work together to get the home sold faster. You do not have to pay to have you home listed on the service if an agent is helping you to sell the home. Realtors have access to the service and they would normally list the home to gain more exposure. However, if you are planning to sell you home yourself without the assistance of an agent, you would need to find an agent or real estate firm that would charge you a flat fee to help list your home on the multiple listing service.

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