Tag Archives: real estate buyers

Using the MLS to Find Your Dream Home

The MLS or Multiple Listing Service is a database used by real estate agents/brokers in most parts of the county.  Each of these individual systems act as a repository for all the homes for sale in a particular geographic area .  Some MLS systems are more advanced than others and some have more features than others.  Because these systems are built for and the property of the real estate agents, many of the features and more powerful tools are reserved for the agents that pay for the system.

Don’t fret!  In most areas of the country, you as a home buyer can still have access to the MLS to search for properties at your leisure, in the comfort of you own home without some pesky real estate agent bugging you!  Statistics show that currently 85% of real estate buyers will look for homes on the internet before ever calling an agent.   While I primarily use the Minnesota MLS, let me show you some tricks to making the MLS work for you (regardless of where you live).

While each geographic area typically has only one or two MLS systems, it may have 100’s of sites on the internet that allow you to search properties.  Those sites simply take the raw data from the MLS and republish it inside their software.  How the data is displayed and even how MUCH data is displayed can vary from site to site.  Spend time to compare the same property on different sites to see which one gives you the most information and has the most features.

A popular request is for home buyers to see all foreclosed homes in a particular area.  Often the foreclosure status of a property is not available to the public.  Even when it is, the information is often incomplete or inaccurate.  If you are looking for a home in a certain area, simply search for the lowest priced properties.  Typically these will be the foreclosures.  If you find a standard, retail seller that is priced as low or lower than a foreclosure, what is wrong with that!

Instead of trying to remember to log onto the MLS each night to search for a property, save a search.  Our MN MLS allows a user to save the criteria that they are looking for (which may include price, number of bedrooms, area, etc) and the MLS will automatically email the user, whenever a home matches their criteria.  Most public MLS systems allow you to do this today.  You can simply watch your email waiting for any new properties.  This can also help you in a competitive market to get an offer in before everyone else.

Lastly, if you are just not finding what you are looking for, consider contacting a real estate agent.  As I mentioned before, they typically have more powerful tools to search the MLS database.  See if they have access to more information on the MLS that might help you find your dream home.  Let them work for you!