MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service. Every home in the Greater Vancouver area is listed for sale on the MLS and every Realtor who holds a valid Real Estate liscense has access to this MLS system. The only exempt listings from MLS are those specifically listed as exclusive listings and most assignments.
The information on MLS is regulated as only a Realtor can post information on MLS. This doesn't mean home Buyers and Sellers can't get this information just not directly.
Back in the old days MLS was available in print in the form of a published catalogue. The information was generated by the Real Estate Board and then sent out to all the Realtors. It was updated on a weekly or monthly basis depending on how fast the market was moving. Given all the paperwork that I haul around on a daily basis, I can't imagine adding a yellow pages sized book to that!
These days MLS is keeping up with the times and all information is kept on an internet based program that can be accessed with a password and user ID. Information is updated every half hour. Listings brokers enter the information on a home and offer to share the commmission with a broker who brings the buyer. Information on a house can be obtained right down to the lot size, size of the house, number bedrooms, bathrooms, age and price. There are usually even pictures of the house.
When using MLS home Buyers usually make the mistake of believing they can access this information and use it for their own searches for a home, therefore eliminating the Realtor and just using the listing Realtor to write the deal once they find their dream home. The data the public receives on the public MLS site can often be very limited in scope, very outdated, and often inaccurate.
When looking for new hmes on the market it is best to contact a Realtor who will help you access accurate information from the MLS. When I am introduced to a new Buyer the first thing I do is hook them up to my automatic updates. This service delivers new listings from MLS into their in box in real time, which is updated on a daily basis. The listings that are delivered come in the form of a link, so even if you use a hotmail account your in box won't be frozen with too much information. My Buyers appreciate having information in real time, often a full 48 hours before the public site has it! That way when they view a listing with me they have the option to see it before it has an offer on it.
Claire LeLacheur Vancouver Real Estate