Searching for MLS listings near me without a real estate agent will probably be difficult—but it’s possible. So, how do you get started? 

Table of Contents

  1. What Is MLS?
  2. Is Access to MLS Without a Realtor Possible?
  3. The Benefits of Listing Property on MLS Without an Agent
  4. Things to Consider Before Buying Property Without a Realtor
  5. Use Mashvisor as an Ultimate Alternative
  6. Summing Up

Whether you are in the process of selling your property or you’re looking to buy a house and turn it into a vacation rental, you need access to MLS. Multiple listing services, or MLS, is, to put it mildly, the most reliable source of information for buyers and sellers who want to stay up-to-date with the current pricing and available listings on the market.

The best way to keep track of the abundance of information posted in MLS would be to hire a realtor who would provide you with daily updates and help direct you towards making a tactical decision.

 Can you manage it yourself?

Technically speaking, you can—but you’ll need to put in much more work and time than you initially expected. Although it’s not common practice, such a way of buying and selling property is still possible. The issue here is that getting access to MLS as a buyer without a real estate license can be tricky—but we’ll get to that soon enough.

If you feel like you’ve got what it takes to accomplish the task on your own, scroll down for info on how to find MLS listings near me without a realtor—and read more about the potential pros and cons you can expect along the way.

What Is MLS?

Since you are at the beginning of your journey of finding MLS listings near me, you’d want to familiarize yourself with what the acronym stands for and gather some essential info about it first.

And the first question you might need answers to is likely something along the lines of:

What is MLS—and how does it work?

The MLS acronym stands for Multiple Listing Service. In essence, it is a database created by reputable real estate brokers with the objective of providing crucial info on properties that are currently listed for sale. The MLS database works towards establishing a solid real estate business by connecting homeowners and sellers.

The agents selling the property and the people looking to buy one can benefit from making such information available in one place. The key is in sharing valuable insight regarding sale prices—and sharing commissions from every sale made.

The database essentially works as an “electronic book” featuring all the properties currently on sale—and it’s being updated regularly, if not daily. The ones with direct access to it can also distribute the information to others who are interested in buying property.

Within the electronic format, the MLS number is a serial number attributed to each property listed on the market. The numbers within MLS house listings are created to make investment properties easier to find and, ultimately, separate and filter the interesting opportunities from the not-so-attractive ones.

Related: 5 Ways to Find Investment Property for Sale Near Me

How Do MLS Listings Work?

The next step in accessing MLS listings near me is knowing how these so-called “electronic books” work.

Before explaining how MLS works, it’s important to note that it was first created in the 1800s. There’s quite a long history behind it. However, the workings of MLS online listings changed dramatically during the 1990s.

Access to the database is granted only to licensed real estate agents and brokers entitled to make changes and update the listings themselves. And while MLS is essential for creating a transparent marketplace for consumers, agents and brokers are the only ones with access.


MLS grants access to agents and brokers who are members of their local real estate board and pay dues or a membership fee. Another thing to mention is that the service lacks a governing body. Instead, it’s a highly cooperative service:

All members work together to create their regional databases—and supplement the list with relevant information to connect buyers and sellers and close deals successfully.

Individual brokers and agents work towards establishing a reliable MLS for their areas. They pay for a membership and benefit from updated listings, including photos and information on the property, like square footage, median property price, and other details.

Why Is Access to MLS Real Estate Listings Important?

The next thing we’d like to explain when finding MLS listings near me is of the importance of MLS real estate listings.

 Why do you need access to these listings—and how can they help you?

Don’t forget that we’re living in the digital era, where access to info is at an all-time high. Still, scrolling through dozens of catalogs would be a waste of your time. Worse yet, most catalogs are published on a monthly basis, so the data you are relying on is probably outdated and even flat-out inaccurate.

Hence, the importance of MLS online listings is in the accuracy of the data and the speed at which it circulates among brokers and investors. For example, someone looking to buy investment properties while working with a broker with access to MLS will enjoy certain advantages. They can search for properties faster and may be able to access private information, such as the contact info of the seller or showing times.

Without MLS’s services, you’d need to scroll through several—if not dozens—websites that offer such types of information yourself.

If you’re a buyer, you can learn more about the prepaid costs associated with purchasing a home by scrolling through our guide—and maybe taking some notes.

Related: What Are Prepaid Costs When Buying a Home?

How to Access MLS?

The traditional way of gaining access to MLS’s services and researching the houses for sale listed typically includes working with a real estate agent in your area. Gaining access to the MLS’s information on the market and listing your property successfully requires you to find a reputable agent first.

Once you’ve hired an agent, they will set up a private portal for you where you can view and exchange information on the property—or properties—of interest. The agent you are working with will also set an alert reminder to notify you every time a new home becomes listed.

If you are a buyer, as a general rule, you shouldn’t incur any additional costs. They should be covered as part of the seller’s costs and fees.

Is Access to MLS Without a Realtor Possible?

You’ve undoubtedly heard that only licensed members get access to MLS. But is there an alternative?

Accessing active MLS listings is, technically speaking, possible for investors—even without a realtor. However, the process is far from straightforward. Essentially, you can opt to look up public MLS databases or find multiple listing services that will list your property on your behalf for a flat fee.

One of the sites you can use to access such information is Zillow. Their database provides an abundance of relevant data on properties listed. However, Zillow’s database alone isn’t enough for you to make a well-calculated decision.

What does it mean for investors?

 Finding MLS listings near me (without a realtor) can mean spending a lot of time online and possibly looking at outdated information. Although public MLS offers most of the information you need anyway, it could still be missing something that you’d be able to access on your private portal, such as agent’s notes. Furthermore, for full access and MLS listings search, you’re going to need a membership, and it is limited to agents with a license.

But for you, as a real estate investor, it doesn’t make much sense to get a license if that’s not a career path you’re interested in, does it?

For someone without a license, you need to build a long and strong working relationship with the MLS. Even more so, you’ll need to present a detailed business plan for your investment, which is harder to do on your own and with little prior knowledge of the market.

You Need a Flat-Fee MLS Listing Company

As we mentioned a moment ago, attempting to find MLS listings near me without a licensed realtor generally leads to one option—paying a flat-fee MLS listing company.

In the early 2000s, multiple companies entered the business of helping sellers list their properties and help them become visible to investors for a flat fee. Such types of listings are usually referred to as MLS entry-only listings.

Brokers are only in charge of listing the property; the seller navigates the real estate market independently. For assistance, the brokers are entitled to charge additional fees.

The Benefits of Listing Property on MLS Without an Agent

If you’re hoping to gain access to MLS listings near me, you should be aware that it won’t be as straightforward as hiring a professional—but there are still some benefits worth noting.

The most commonly cited advantage is that you’ll be able to go into business with a slightly smaller budget. Many sellers decide to go with public MLS databases or flat-fee companies since it doesn’t require paying a commission by going with the traditional route.

Going with the above option does not relieve you of paying commission in full, but it cuts the costs down to half. However, investors should know that it vastly depends on the location of the investment property. Long-time real estate agents will use their own unique, elaborate tactics that they would present to a client.

Accessing MLS house listings without an agent means that you’ll exert complete control over the sale of your property and enjoy the freedom of going with your own strategy. If you’re new to the real estate business, it may not be the path for you. However, if you’re experienced enough and know how to facilitate your home sale, it’s generally encouraged.

What to Look Out for?

The weakness of the flat-free approach is the absence of a proper marketing plan. The method excludes the option of a real estate agent preparing a marketing plan for your property.

And that leads to the following conclusion:

 Merely listing your property on MLS will not guarantee you top dollars—which is a risk you should be prepared to take.

House sellers who are eager to generate high incomes on their sales will want their property advertised and appropriately marketed. Accordingly, investors are looking for details such as professional photographs, descriptive listings, and personal connections. Such things can be tricky to do without the help of an agent.

Related: Home Selling Tips 2022: The Complete Seller’s Guide

Things to Consider Before Buying Property Without a Realtor

Investors shouldn’t be preoccupied with merely browsing “MLS listings near me.” Property buyers and sellers who are entering the market without a realtor should bear in mind the following things, as well.

If you decide not to hire a licensed realtor, you’ll need to thoroughly research the market yourself—which can be insufficient and inaccurate if you’re a newbie.

Next, negotiations might not be your specialty. Realtors are trained to lead negotiations, present counter-offers, and ensure the sales go in your favor. Entering the negotiations on your own can end up with you overpaying for the property in question—or passing on a profitable offer.

Lastly, such a way of searching for properties will most likely include a ton of paperwork.

So, before you say “Yes” to the said strategy, re-think searching for MLS listings near me without any expert assistance.

Use Mashvisor as an Ultimate Alternative

To successfully close the deal, a sincere suggestion would be to consider Mashvisor as your ultimate alternative.

Here’s why it is a good idea:

Mashvisor’s the leading tool for both investors and real estate agents, thanks to an extensive database that includes all the necessary market data. Investors looking to build and expand their portfolios can benefit from the software in several ways.

For instance, Mashvisor’s Property Finder uses reliable data from active MLS listings. The main advantage of using the Property Finder is that each search is set according to your criteria. It combines analytics and machine algorithms to highlight matches that meet the demands of investors.

MLS Listings Near Me - Mashvisor's Property Finder

Using data from active MLS listings, Mashvisor’s Property Finder helps investors look for properties based on their set criteria, such as location, distance, budget, rental strategy, type of property, and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

Another example would be the Property Marketplace—a Mashvisor tool that helps you with researching off-market properties and getting a good deal for them.

Combining the practical tools above—and searching for the best place to buy rental property—will become as easy as ABC.

Summing Up

We’ve successfully closed the topic of accessing MLS listings near me without the help of realtors. Let’s briefly go over the main points we’ve mentioned so far.

We’ve clarified the meaning and importance of Multiple Listing Services. What you should take from that is that it allows investors and sellers to search for properties of interest—and access relevant information about them. Although it’s possible to access the listings without a realtor, it may not be as rewarding as you intend it to be.

Investors and sellers looking to access MLS’s services without the help of a professional will likely have to turn to public databases and flat-fee listing companies. The risks associated with such an approach are the absence of a proper marketing plan and the possibility of overpaying for your property.

Considering the potential drawbacks, the safest alternative would be going with Mashvisor’s Property Finder and Property Marketplace tools. Combining both tools enables investors to keep track of potentially lucrative investment properties for sale—even if they’re off-market.

Sign up for a 7-day free trial of Mashvisor followed by a 15% discount on your quarterly or annual subscription.

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