What is the Massachusetts Multiple Listing Service or MLS?

The Massachusetts Multiple Listing Service, or as it is commonly referred to, Massachusetts MLS, is a large property database or “warehouse” of homes for sale.  Participants in the MLS agree to cooperate with other members in the sharing of the inventory of homes for sale. Basically, all the real estate companies in Massachusetts pool the inventory of their homes they have to sell, making every home available to every other agent that participates in the MLS.

In this day and age, I do not know of a real estate office that does not participate in the Massachusetts Multiple Listing Service.   The Multiple Listing Service is the single biggest tool a real estate agent has to aid buyers and sellers in the real estate market today.

The Evolution of the MLS

Before the creation of the Multiple Listing Service, home buyers would go to each real estate office to see what inventory they had to sell.  Basically, you were limited to what that office had to offer.  You literally had to go to each individual office to see what was available.  Then the MLS was created and every week a “book” was created for each office in an associations territory and was distributed to each office.  Thus, it allowed buyers to go to one office to see all the inventory in a group of communities and it allowed sellers much greater exposure to the buying pool.

Around 1996 with the growing popularity of computers, the MLS data started to be put online.  Giving access to the individual offices much quicker with less lag time.   Fast forward to today and literally the minute an agent inputs listing data for a home for sale it is distributed not only to the real estate community but the generally buying public.

Some Interesting Massachusetts Multiple Listing Service Facts

As of November 4th 2011, I called the Massachusetts MLS that serves my area and a large majority of Massachusetts.  They told me that they roughly run 27,000 member real estate agents and approximately 40,000 homes for sale.  The pool of homes is tremendous as well as the pool of buyers that have access to the MLS.

I also wanted to do a little research to see how many of the home sales are run through the Massachusetts Multiple Listing Service.  In Andover Massachusetts there were 1,766 home sold through the MLS in a 5 year period. In that same time period, I looked at the public records and there were 2,318 home sales recorded.   So 76% of the home sales were run through the MLS.  Out of the 24% of the home sales left over, most of those are private sales (homes never offered to the general public, the most common being a transfer between family members), lenders taking back a home because of non payment and the rest being a For Sale by Owner.  Looking at nationwide statistics, a staggering 95% of the homes that are available to the general public are sold through a Multiple Listing Service.

What does the MLS Mean to a Seller?

If 95% of the homes are sold though the Multiple Listing Service. where do you think buyers turn to find their new home? They turn to a real estate agent that gives them access to the MLS.  It is convenient and gives them the immediate access to most of the available homes for sale that meet their criteria.  A home listed today can be at a buyers fingertips that same day!!

With today’s access to the internet, buyers are directly choosing the homes they see and not relying so much on a real estate agent to pick and choose the homes they see.  The MLS instantly exposes your home to the largest pool of buyers, instantly!!  No other media can even come close to the power of the Multiple Listing Service.


Search Massachusetts Homes for Sale
Search all the Massachuetts Homes for Sale- Using access to the Massachusetts Multiple Listing Service

When registered with a Massachusetts Realtor or Real Estate Agent you have access to the largest pool of homes for sale that meet your criteria, instantly.  You will know about homes new to the market almost as quickly as the real estate age community does!!

Every participating real estate agent can provide access to the Multiple Listing Service data through an IDX (internet data exchange).  By the rules of the MLS for a home buyer to access all of the information they must be registered with an agent and all contact information must be on file with that agent.  Otherwise you can see a limited amount of data.

Essex County New to Market Inventory– Homes that are new to the market or have had a status change in the past 4 days.

Middlesex County New to Market Inventory– Homes that are new to the market or have had a status change in the past 4 days.


The MLS is a very powerful tool in aiding both buyers and sellers either market properties or find properties for sale.  It also offers historical data that can be accessed by a buyer or sellers agent that will help determine fair market value of a home as well as median house price in a community, predict days on market and so on…

We all hear the term MLS or Multiple Listing Service and as agents, I think we are quick to throw around the term.  I hope this post informs home buyers and home sellers on the impact of the Multiple Service has on the purchase or sale of your home.  As always I encourage viewers to post a comment or start a discussion!!

View the Massachusetts MLS Listings for Sale


This post, What is the Massachusetts Multiple Listing Service?, was provided by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Group One Real Estate.  Kevin has over 10 years experience and has closed on hundreds of homes bringing you the experience you need.  If you are looking to buy or sell a home call Kevin at 978-360-0422.

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