Another invaluable resource for the investor or home seeker is the use of the local MLS. But if you aren’t a realtor, how do you find and obtain access to the system? The way the MLS is structured generally works like this: if a town is small, the MLS might be tied between it and the neighboring small town(s). A large city will likely have its own MLS.
Searching for the MLS Engine
So the place to start would be going to your favorite search engine (like google, yahoo or msn) and typing in your town/city, state and the words “MLS”. Now, don’t be surprised when you see a realtor’s website at the top of the list. Often, direct access to the main MLS system itself is restricted. However, smart realtors will include the IDX or sharing version of the MLS to the public.
So the best thing to do, is to click on a couple of the realtor’s sites that are listed near the top, and try to find a link on their website called “Search”, or “Search MLS”, or “Search Other Listings”, etc. that will take you to the public side of the MLS.
Now the down side is, that you will not be able to see all of the information about the property. Depending on the local association/board of realtors you are dealing with, they may hide the address, or other features of the listing to force you to call an agent to setup a showing. Now if you are like me, you want to know more about the property before you go through the trouble of talking to an agent. In this case, you may consider checking out zillow.com or your local tax appraisal website to try to find the property. You may be able to extract the address or other information you are needing with this method.
Calling an Agent
If the above is too troublesome, just check the phone book or call information and have them put you in touch with a local realtor. The realtor will know if there is public access to the MLS, and should be happy to provide you with a link to search it. Be mindful though – they are salesmen, and may try to coerce you into having them run the search for you. Just be persistent and they’ll likely give you the information you ask for. If all else fails, just tell them you will call someone else if they don’t want to cooperate.
Some Additional MLS Comments
I for one, got fed up with having to use these methods to search out properties in the area. So what I did was to get a realtor license, and I highly recommend you do the same. They aren’t that expensive, and holding one sure does make it easier to move through the process of acquiring and marketing properties. It’s one of the best things I’ve done in my real estate career.