Multiple listing services are changing

November 10, 1991|By James M. Woodard | James M. Woodard,Copley News Service jHC B

The formation of multiple listing services (MLS) is probably the most significant development in the real estate marketing industry during the past three decades. Now, local MLS operations are regionalizing their resources.

An MLS is a system of pooling information on currently available (listed) properties, sharing the data and right to sell the listed properties with many brokers and sales representatives throughout the local or regional real estate market.

Wide and strategic exposure is the key to effective marketing. Through an MLS, that exposure is achieved.

An increasing number of MLS operations within the same general marketing region are now sharing computer capability to generate an effective information service for all members. MLS groups chip in to buy and operate computers and software systems.

The computer-generated information usually includes data on all current property listings, statistical information and a variety of special programs. For example, tax information on any property in a local county can often be quickly accessed on computer terminals.

Another frequent regional arrangement to expand exposure of listed properties is a reciprocal agreement between MLS groups, whereby property information is shared.

Before MLS's were formed, brokers kept their residential listing information in-house or shared it with a small group of friendly competitor brokers. With the launching of MLS groups, usually sponsored by a board of Realtors, a home can be quickly exposed to a much larger market of prospective buyers through many cooperating brokers. The system benefits everyone -- buyers, sellers and brokers.

There have been dramatic changes in MLS practices in recent years. No longer can an MLS operation legally stipulate the brokers' rate of commission or commission-split between the listing and selling broker. And, at least in one state, a board-sponsored MLS cannot limit MLS members to members of their board.

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