What is the MLS?

The acronym MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service which is essentially a warehouse for homes that have been listed to sell within a particular region—there are hundreds of MLS sites throughout the US, all of which are connected with the National Association of Realtors as well as state and local real estate boards. The way the MLS works is that a listing agent makes an agreement to sell a home, with the seller agreeing to paying a percentage of the sales price as a commission once the property has sold. Once he lists the home on the MLS, buyers and buyer’s agents have access to that information. If a buyer’s agent connects a buyer with the home for sale, the agents will work together to manage the transaction in the best interest of their clients and, once the transaction has closed and been property recorded, the two agents will share the commission the seller agreed to pay.

In Utah, we have a main MLS that covers the entire state as well as the bordering counties of other states (Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, Colorado) and then two smaller MLS sites, one that covers St. George and one that covers Park City. When a Listing Agent lists a home, they list it on the MLS, or MLS's, that will create the best reach. An agent might only list a home in St. George on the St. George MLS, or she might choose to list it on both that MLS and the main MLS—Utah Real Estate (www.utahrealestate.com.) At My Utah Agents, we have membership in all three Utah MLS sites, which gives us access to every listing in the state.

The general public can access certain details of each MLS listing that are made public. A real estate agent has access to additional details such as listing history, specific remarks, Buyer’s Agent Commission offered, and additional documents attached to the listing. We can schedule showings, access tax data, and communicate with the listing agent through the MLS as well as utilize the data to run certain reports, searches, and gather market information.

Every other website used to access MLS information (Zillow, Realtor.com, Red Door, Trulia, My Utah Agents Search) aggregates its information from the MLS—making them third party sites. While there are regulations about how much information these sites can share, there are certain details that are left up to each aggregate site to decide. For instance, some sites don’t update the status of a home, meaning that a home might appear as “pending” or “active” even though it’s already under contract. Sometimes a home might show as “under contract” months after it has already sold. The reason these sites manipulate the information is because certain priced homes in certain areas draw interest and by keeping sought after homes on their site, they continue to draw in buyers who will hopefully spend additional time on their site and eventually request additional information. When you request information, or click that you want to talk to an agent, your information is then sent as a lead source to a random agent, not the listing agent on the property which is what most people assume they are doing.

My Utah Agents’ search tool removes homes from our site once their status is changed to “under contract.” Every home that comes through a MUA search is either “active,” meaning it has not gone under contract, or in “backup” status, meaning the Seller has accepted a primary offer but is still open to secondary offers that would automatically move to primary if the original offer defaults or cancels. When you request additional information on a property through MUA’s search tool, that request goes to the agent who set up the search for you or to an assigned agent if you haven’t yet worked with any of our team members directly. When we receive an alert that you are interested in additional information on a particular property, we’ll reach out so that we can learn what additional information you would like to receive.

For this reason, we suggest that our clients use the MUA search tool or the actual MLS to look for homes—that is where you will get the most accurate and up to date information. Some people prefer the format or ease of other sites, and there is nothing wrong with using whatever format works best for you, just keep in mind that the information you access might not be up to date. To verify information about a specific property, send the address or MLS number to your agent. They will connect with the MLS and make sure that what’s listed is correct.

Looking for your next home is an exciting process and many people look for months, if not years, before it’s the right time for them to buy. At My Utah Agents (and My Idaho Agents) we want to help you along your path in whatever way we can. Our goal is to arm our clients with information to make their process as smooth as possible. Never hesitate to reach out—no matter where you like to look for homes. We are never too busy to answer questions, get additional details on a listing, or talk you through the next step of your process. We believe everyone should love where you live and be fully supported through the process of getting there!