If you‘ve ever sold or bought a property, you most probably know what an MLS (Multiple Listing Service) is.

Table of Contents

  1. What Is MLS?
  2. How Does It Work?
  3. How Long Do MLS Listings Stay Online?
  4. Can You List Your Property for Sale on MLS Without a Realtor?
  5. Conclusion

MLS online listings are what real estate agents turn to in order to find prospective investment properties. They are one of the most used, up-to-date, and accurate resources for finding properties for sale online or putting properties up for sale. The database is created, maintained, and paid for by either local real estate professionals or the NAR (National Association of Realtors).

As a real estate buyer, it’s advised that you aim to possess at least basic knowledge about MLS online listings. What is MLS, how does it work, how long before your MLS online listings expire, and how can you access them? These are all questions that we are about to answer in this article.

What Is MLS?

Multiple Listing Service or MLS is basically a centralized database for real estate property listings for a specific market. The databases are stored online, providing brokers and agents easy and quick access to each other’s listed properties. The ultimate goal is to connect home buyers to home sellers, and under that agreement, both the selling and listing brokers benefit by sharing commission and information.

Many people falsely believe that there is only one MLS, while in fact, there are more than 800 of them. Each regional real estate market maintains its own MLS online database, which brokers and agents share with other brokers, inviting them to cooperate in their sales. Buyers benefit by obtaining information about all the properties listed on MLS, while sellers benefit through increased exposure for their property.

The real estate business is quite competitive, but instead of working against each other, competitors also need to cooperate to ensure a successful sale. It’s what makes the business so unique, while MLS online listings are there to facilitate the collaboration. It also works as an incentive for brokers to contribute to one large database instead of creating their own listing databases, which would fragment property information.

How Does It Work?

MLS databases aggregate property data on all of the real estate listings in a certain region, depending on what the buyer or agent is looking for. The listing broker or agent hired by a property owner will enter all the property’s listing information into an MLS. Such info includes the listing price and details about the square footage, number of bathrooms and bedrooms, school districts, nearby amenities, etc.

Furthermore, MLS online listings also include the real estate agent’s or broker’s contact information to enable the buyer’s agent to reach out. Buyers and brokers are able to look for homes in an MLS by using their specific criteria.

Access to MLS databases is restricted to licensed real estate agents, brokers, and flat fee service providers. They are not publicly available, meaning that you must pay for access or secure your access via your agent/broker.

Realtors pay in order to get their clients’ properties listed on the MLS. Each listing is typically accessible only to realtors with access to that specific MLS. It means that a realtor from Missouri would not be able to access active MLS listings in Denver unless they became a member of that MLS.

To start looking for and analyzing the best investment properties in your city and neighborhood of choice, click here.

Related: Denver Housing Market 2022: 10 Best Neighborhoods for Rental Investors 

How the MLS Works for Sellers

What would you do first if you wanted to sell your property? If you’re not sure about your selling skills, you’d probably find the best possible real estate agent to help you. Your agent will gather the information about the property and take pictures of the property. Moreover, they will compare your household to other similar properties in the neighborhood and those they’ve sold recently to come up with the right price.

Once their agent is done gathering information, they will upload it into their MLS database as a listing. MLS online listings keep information similar to what you can find in publicly available listings – square footage, amenities, number of bathrooms, etc.), photos, and descriptions. Also, these listings include certain details (e.g., agent remarks) that are intended only for other agents. Such remarks typically include HOA regulations, seller disclosures, the best time for showing, etc.)

How the MLS Works for Buyers

If you’re on the other side of the deal, the buyer’s agent will ask you about the ideal location, size of home you need, amenities, and price range. Your agent will use the information when looking for your ideal property. When the right house comes along, they can use the info from the MLS to make you aware of upcoming open houses and schedule a showing.

How Long Do MLS Listings Stay Online?

MLS online listings typically last 120-150 days, while some stay online for up to six months. It all depends on real estate agents and the contract. Typically, expired listings are the ones not sold by the end of the period determined by the contract between the listing agent and the seller. In other words, every listing comes with its own expiration date, and the agent needs to sell it by then in order to receive the commission.

If the date comes and the agent doesn’t sell, the seller can opt to go with another agent or stay with the current one, who will list it again. An average timeframe is six months but can be as short as one month or as long as one year.

In case the sale is in process and the listing expires in the meantime, you are legally bound to stick with your current real estate agent.

Can You List Your Property for Sale on MLS Without a Realtor?

For those who don’t want to get real estate agent help, there’s the option that includes a flat fee MLS listing service. The flat fee service will let you list your property there, at which point you continue your journey down the FSBO (For Sale By Owner) path.

Some people are already skilled in real estate buying or selling, and they want to do it themselves and avoid paying the high cost of commission fees. With a flat fee MLS listing, you will need to pay just a small fee to get your broker listed on the MLS. It’s also the fastest way to get your investment property listed.

Flat fee MLS listings are also known as entry-only listings. If it happens that you do need some help, your broker will provide you with them and only charge you a small additional fee (instead of the full commission).

With tools like Mashvisor, you can find out how much your property is actually worth by conducting a comparative real estate market analysis. After you’ve done that, get your house listed with flat fee MLS listings, and start showcasing your property. Remember that you are the one responsible for negotiations and closing.

Related: How to Access MLS Listings Without an Agent: Investor’s Guide

Pocket Listings vs FSBO

Pocket listings refer to property owners who are selling with the help of a real estate agent but have decided not to list on the MLS. The purpose of selling without listing the property there is to maintain privacy. Not all real estate owners want to disclose their details.

On the other hand, the FSBO (For Sale By Owner) property is sold by the owner, without the involvement of the realtor (middleman). The aim of that is to save on paying a high commission and keep more of the total selling price. Because realtors access MLS databases, FSBO properties can only get listed thanks to flat fee MLS services. If sellers choose to sell without listing on MLS, they’ll miss out on the exposure and potentially higher offers.

Can Anyone Access MLS Online Listings?

Publicly listing records are available online for anyone who wants to see them. As a consumer, you can access them on your real estate agent’s or broker’s website. However, MLS online databases are private and can only be accessed by registered professional realtors. They are the ones paying for it to help clients sell or buy investment properties.

Information is kept private to protect the seller’s safety or privacy, such as contact information and times when the property is vacant for showcasing.

Partnering up with a local real estate agent or using a platform like Mashvisor are among the best ways for accessing up-to-date MLS house listings in your area of interest.

How to Access MLS Without a Realtor?

After you’ve discovered how important MLS online listings are for your real estate portfolio, you’ve probably asked yourself if there are ways to access MLS without a real estate agent. Basically, the only way left to do it is by searching online.

If you want to access your local MLS listing, you need to start your Google search engine and type in “MLS listings near me.” There are often searchable (but not that detailed) databases of houses for sale available on sites associated with that specific MLS. For example, if you’re looking to buy property in Utah, the Wasatch Front Regional MLS offers publicly available property listings on UtahRealEstate.com.

It’s possible to access active MLS listings, thanks to real estate analytics platforms like Mashvisor. Whether you’re a novice or a savvy investor, you can use our comprehensive database and tools to build a creative real estate strategy.

Mashvisor doesn’t pull its data just from MLS but also from HomeAway, Airbnb, Zillow, Redfin Walk Score, Auction.com, Realtor.com, and others. To ensure its data accuracy, Mashvisor finds the same data from several different sources. Then, it analyzes it and provides easy-to-read reports to users, which saves a great deal of time on research. We update our MLS real estate listings on a daily basis and our data once a month.

Mashvisor’s Tools for Homeowners and Homebuyers

Our platform offers several complementary AI real estate analytics tools that feed off the comprehensive property database. It’s an all-in-one platform for people looking for ideal investment opportunities and building investment or selling strategies.

To learn more about how we can help you make faster and smarter real estate investment decisions, click here.

Are you looking for a new home or a vacation rental? Maybe you’re ready to sell your property but don’t know how to set the right price. Getting the right information in a matter of minutes can make your endeavors very easy, especially when you get crucial information such as:

  • Median property price
  • Average price per square foot
  • Traditional rental income
  • Airbnb rental income
  • Occupancy rate
  • Cash on cash return
  • Cap rate
  • Price to rent ratio

For example, if you’re looking to purchase a short term rental in Philadelphia, you need to know the prices, cash on cash return, and cap rate to be able to calculate its ROI potential. Now let’s take a look at the real estate property details in five Philadelphia neighborhoods with the highest cash on cash return.

Neighborhood Median Property Price Days on Market Monthly Airbnb Rental Income Airbnb Cash on Cash Return (%) Airbnb Cap Rate (%) Airbnb Daily Rate Airbnb Occupancy Rate (%) Walk Score
Powelton $177,450 77 $2,067 6.80 7.12 $116 68 93
Yorktown $315,000 82 $3,195 6.04 6.19 $140 55 85
Newbold $328,847 46 $2,982 5.75 5.90 $149 63 97
Sharswood $385,175 67 $2,810 5.36 5.51 $136 59 82
Dickinson Narrows $420,370 69 $3,367 4.98 5.09 $135 66 95

Once you get your data, you can use some of these tools to inform your real estate buying or selling strategy.

Property Marketplace

If you’re interested in buying off-market properties anywhere in the U.S., you should turn to Property Marketplace. Finding off-market properties can be daunting even for real estate investors, while Mashvisor uses the same data and predictive analytics to find excellent matches to your criteria. It enables you to find investment properties overlooked by other investors quite efficiently and easily.

But what’s more important is that you won’t need traditional access to MLS online databases that are mediated by a real estate agent. We make MLS listings search and real estate analytics easier than ever.

Related: 16 Best Ways  to Find Off Market Properties

Rental Property Finder

The Rental Property Finder pools several resources (including MLS online listings) to build a big database of houses for sale. The tool (which uses ML and AI algorithms to produce results) helps users pick out the best properties based on their specific search criteria. With the massive amounts of information and patterns from the platform’s users, Mashvisor can present you with the perfect matches you are after. The scope of Mashvisor’s function, ease of use, and details on each property are impressive.

Other Tools

The Rental Property Calculator is a tool that lets you determine if a property is worth your money and time. All you need to do is input data about your financing, and the calculator will deliver the most important metrics required for a real estate investment analysis.

Second is the Real Estate Heatmap, which is quite handy to investors conducting a real estate market analysis and needing information on specific neighborhoods. It can help you make data-driven decisions on the best place to buy rental property, thanks to its accurate real estate performance data.

MLS Online Listings - Rental Property Finder

Mashvisor’s Rental Property Finder helps investors find specific information about a neighborhood, based on the latest real estate performance data.


MLS online listings are a one-of-a-kind database created, maintained, and funded by realtors and brokers. Regular homeowners cannot gain access to it without paying a fee. But it’s worth it because MLS databases make selling and buying property quicker and more convenient.

For those who want to combine MLS data (as well as data from many other sources) with the power of a real estate analytics software, there stands Mashvisor. You won’t need to register for MLS access because Mashvisor provides all the information that both buyers and sellers can benefit from.

To get access to our real estate investment tools, click here to sign up for a 7-day free trial of Mashvisor today, followed by 15% off for life.

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