The Florida real estate MLS (Multiple Listing Service) is a computer database owned and maintained by Realtors in Florida to list their clients’ properties, so that other Realtors or buyers can see that they are for sale.
It allows Realtors to arrange viewings of any property for sale in a given area (e.g. Orlando), including those listed by other Realtors. This eliminates the task we go through when buying UK property – visiting every Estate Agent in a given area to check what’s available. Click here to find out how to access the Florida real estate MLS.
There are other databases out there: some require substantial payments to obtain access, some are out of date and some (e.g. the various For Sale By Owner websites) boast thousands of homes for sale but come nowhere near the database of the MLS. Some Internet sites such as Rightmove or Trulia or Zillow contain thousands of properties but, because there is a limited ability for those sites to update their data on a timely basis, inaccurate or misleading information can be given. The MLS database is the only system that has the maximum possible integrity because Realtors enter their listings and subsequent prices and availability changes in real time – and they are fined by the MLS team for a failure to update promptly. Estimates put the proportion of US home sales made through MLS systems at more than 80%.
So whether you need the MLS depends on how important it is for you to sell your property quickly: using the system is going to give you the best chance of getting your property details in front of the most buyers and therefore achieving a speedier sale.
If you do decide that you want to use the MLS to sell your property and you don’t want to use a ‘full service” Realtor (because of the costs), then you may find one of the “A La Carte” Brokers who will simply add your property to the Florida MLS for a small fee. In return for sacrificing “full service” benefits (e.g. advising on the right price for your home; showing clients around the property), you can gain the benefits of listing your home in the biggest property sales database in the area.