The Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®), owned and operated by REALTORS®, is the most powerful real estate marketing system in the country.

Housing market information originating from the MLS® has long been recognized as the most reliable and comprehensive data available for those looking to buy or sell a home.

The strength of this more than 65-year-old system rests in the quality and accuracy of the information. Government, economists, financial institutions, appraisers and others all rely on MLS® data. This is because Realtors who submit the listing information, and MLS® staff at real estate boards who conduct quality control, are trained and educated in the complexities of real estate.

“The MLS® system gives unmatched exposure to properties for sale,” said Colette Gerber, Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) Chair. “If you’re selling your home, a listing on MLS® will be shared with over 13,700 Realtors for the broadest distribution possible. If you’re buying a home, MLS® will have the largest pool of homes to choose from.”

The MLS® also validates and increases the accuracy of our property taxation system by providing reliable information, backed by professional accountability, to government bodies responsible for assessments in our province.

Realtors know how to describe a property accurately and what information must be disclosed in an MLS® listing. For instance, if there is a restriction on the use of a property, something called an easement, this information must appear in the MLS® listing.

Many alternate systems and services exist to buy and sell homes and they all compete for customers. The MLS® is the Realtor option.

How does the MLS® work?

Realtors compete with each other for your business, but at the same time cooperate to help you buy or sell property. That unique concept of cooperating while competing led to the creation of the MLS® by the real estate profession.

The MLS® is fundamentally a cooperative marketing system that helps the public buy and sell real estate. It’s a system for sharing information between Realtors on homes for sale.

“Through the MLS® system, the Realtor who represents a seller is inviting all other Realtors to offer that home for sale to their buyers. Sellers therefore have all the Realtors in their community seeking buyers for their homes. For buyers, it’s a one-stop shopping experience,” Gerber said.

“By having Realtors agree to share their inventory with one another, a more efficient marketplace is created,” Gerber said.

To participate on the MLS®, Realtors must meet professional development requirements and adhere to a code of ethics and rules of cooperation. They must also, among other things, carry Errors and Omissions Insurance and follow a strict set of business practices.

The arbitration process for Realtors is an example of how the MLS® framework puts the public first. If there’s a dispute about commissions paid or any other issues between Realtors, the process recognizes that the client should get what they want first, and any lingering issues, between the cooperating Realtors, are to be adjudicated afterward.

What if the MLS® system didn't exist?

If the MLS® system did not exist, sellers would have to choose an individual real estate brokerage to list their home and only that brokerage would have the information about it and the ability to show and sell it. If the MLS® system did not exist, buyers would have to go from Realtor to Realtor to view the listings of each individual brokerage.

The MLS® created a safer, more efficient marketplace for home buyers and sellers for generations.