Thursday, May 13, 2010

Why you can’t search “the” MLS


  • MLSonline.com

  • MLS.com

  • MLSlistings.com

  • TheMLS.com

  • Realtor.com

  • RealEstate.com


None of those are “the” MLS, or Multiple Listing Service. Listen up peeps, there are two giant misconceptions out there about consumers’ ability to search the MLS. (and see also our own Kelley Koehler on searching "the MLS")

Consumers can’t search “the” MLS because there is no single, national MLS*. And if there was, consumers probably couldn’t view it directly.*

What consumers think of as “the MLS” is a bunch of local or regional private, subscribers-only databases.  Here in the Greater Phoenix area we use the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service, or ARMLS. Realtors, brokers and appraisers are the biggest dues-paying subscribers. Consumers cannot access this database directly.

So what are – the consumer - you looking at when you “search the MLS”? Almost always, consumers see a data feed taken from one or more local/regional MLSs.


  • Trulia.com , Yahoo.com, Zillow.com, Roost.com, Dwellicious.com


  • RealEstate.com, Realtor.com


  • Homes.com , PhoenixHomes.com , HomeListings.com , HomeGain.com


  • HouseHunt.com , NewHomesSection.com, NewHomeSource.com


  • AZcentral.com, AZhomesForSale.com, AZlandSale.com


  • PhoenixPowerSearch.com, ArizonaPropertyForSale.com


All of those sites display for consumers the data feed they accept from one or more local/regional MLSs. These sites accept the data – bits and bytes, 1’s and 0’s – and display it on their own website alongside banner ads, pop-up ads, pay-per-click ads, and anything else they choose to display.

I’m not going to cover the arguments about whether or not there should be a single, national MLS, and whether or not consumers should be able to view it directly. Why? Because we designed this blog for consumers, not for Realtors and brokers.

Instead, in my next post I’ll explain the 2 factors consumers must be aware of when searching the MLS searching for homes online. Meanwhile, consumers can get as close as possible to searching the MLS by using our handy "Search Phoenix Homes" button. Scroll up, click and search till your eyesight goes all blurry.

Your formerly a school teacher Realtor,

Heather Barr

*There is no “the” MLS, yet. There’s a push afoot in the industry to create a national Multiple Listing Service which would display every house for sale, anywhere in the US. There’s also a movement within the industry to make that national MLS – if it ever comes to be -- visible to consumers directly. As far as I can tell, these two movements have been around for awhile now; we’ll keep you posted if anything ever comes of them.