Can a Homeowner List on the MLS?
No, a homeowner cannot list directly on the MLS. Generally, they must work with a real estate agent, though there are a few other ways to get on the MLS such as working with a flat fee firm.
What Is the MLS?
The MLS is an independent organization that operates a database of property listings in a given area. First invented more than a century ago, the MLS was designed to help real estate brokers share information and market their listings to a wider audience. With the MLS, brokers and agents could better match homebuyers with the available properties for sale and provide for a more efficient marketplace.
With the digitization of the real estate industry since the 1990s, the MLS system has become central to the home buying and selling process. Virtually, all major real estate websites now rely on the MLS as a data source. They link to the MLS and republish listings to attract users.
Most homeowners want to be on the MLS when it comes time to sell because it allows them to reach the widest possible audience. But this can be a little tricky because, in general, only licensed real estate agents can access the MLS.
Why Isn’t the MLS Open to the Public?
The MLS is owned and operated by brokers. These brokers pay fees to the MLS for administrative and security costs. Because of the money paid in, most MLS only grant access to licensed members of the local real estate association.
What Options Do Homeowners Have to List on the MLS?
With these restrictions, and the complexities involved with selling a home, most homeowners choose to work with an agent. Working with an agent pretty much guarantees that your home will be listed on the MLS. If you are looking for an alternative, there are a few other options out there. But each requires the homeowner to take on more responsibility during the selling process.
A flat-fee service is a licensed brokerage that provides the sole service of listing your home on the MLS. They typically do this for a one-time payment. A flat fee service can be a good way to list your property on the MLS quickly and cheaply, but once it is there, it is up to you.
À La Carte
This type of firm offers a bit more than a flat fee service but not as much as a full-service brokerage. Here, the company will allow you to pick from various services designed to simplify the selling process.
It is not the MLS, but several online real estate portals offer similar exposure. These companies, such as Zillow and Redfin, publish FSBO listings alongside MLS listings, allowing users to browse them on the same website.
So while a homeowner cannot list on the MLS, there are some other options out there to market a home for sale.
Questions or feedback? Leave them in the comments. For more see How Does the Real Estate Industry Work?