Multiple Listing Service (MLS): Definition, Purpose & Importance

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Client Privacy, Confidentiality & Security in Real Estate

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:03 Multiple Listing Service
  • 0:54 MLS Access
  • 1:38 Role in Buying & Selling
  • 2:42 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ian Lord

Ian has an MBA and is a real estate investor, former health professions educator, and Air Force veteran.

In this lesson, we'll discuss what a multiple listing service (MLS) is and how it works with buying, selling and marketing real estate in today's market.

Multiple Listing Service

Jack wants to sell his house. But how does he do that? He could place an ad in the paper, tell his friends, or just put a sign on his front lawn. If he uses a real estate agent, though, he gets the opportunity to put the deal in front of a lot of potentially interested buyers. That opportunity takes the form of a multiple listing service.

A multiple listing service (MLS) is a locality-specific database of properties for sale. Its primary purpose is to promote the exchange of property and compensation information among real estate brokers. Multiple listings use a locally standardized format to provide brokers with comprehensive, detailed information about the location, size, age, and features of properties. This service also helps brokers find buyers and earn commissions for making deals happen.

MLS Access

Local MLSs determine rules for who can access the information. One usually has to be a licensed real estate agent and a member of the local board of realtors and trade association. An otherwise competent, licensed real estate agent who does not meet all the local rules may be able to the join the MLS. Unfortunately, this will limit his or her ability to access detailed and timely listings.

Many third-party internet sites list homes for sale using information from the MLS, but they contain far fewer details than typically found on the complete listing and they might not be as up-to-date. The complete MLS also has more comprehensive research options for finding properties and evaluating property values.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account