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As more buyers turn to purchasing international real estate and more realtors take a global approach or at least national approach, there’s an increased emphasis on taking things digital for more accessibility. MLSs have become the first-choice approach to doing this.

Multiple Listings Service or Multiple Listing System, better known as an MLS, compiles real estate properties into a single database. The service assists both realtors, investors and potential home buyers to make an effective decision based on accessibility to more properties to invest in. As James Kimmons explained, “By using rigid data criteria and providing rules for the offer of compensation to other brokers, the MLS has been the primary vehicle for the vast majority of real estate transactions over the years.” Whereas before shopping for a piece of land or new home was tiresome and at times cryptic, MLS simplifies the process. Especially in the case of international real estate purchases, buyers now can access listings with the tips of their fingers.

While it seems like a simple concept, the concept manifests itself in a variety of forms. Some are managed by brokers whereas others are built around a community of realtors. Some are built around a focus on profit whereas others are structured as a complimentary service for clients. The size and regulations also tend to define the level of ‘competency.’ The National Association of Realtors has a bit more specific definition saying, “Today, through more than 800 MLSs, brokers share information on properties they have listed and invite other brokers to cooperate in their sale in exchange for compensation if they produce the buyer.” Brokers reap the benefits of sharing their listings with more potential buyers and buyers benefit from access to more information and properties in order to make a more thorough purchase.

As customer service becomes a paramount concern for most industries, technology creates an opportunity to do that in the real estate sector by improving relationships between buyer and seller. The problem develops amidst the variations with the category of MLS. As Cameron Paine explained on Inman, “The one definition we all agree on is nowhere near good enough to help differentiate between high-performing and low-performing MLSs. So, when the Realty Alliance says that MLSs need to clean up their act, what it means is that some (or many) of the MLSs it participates in don’t perform at a basic level necessary to conduct business efficiently,” which after all is the ultimate goal of implementing these systems.

Paine also highlights the problems with currents models as well though. Sold listings linger as ‘available’ in the digital realm. People lose some of the privacy when exposing their home to the masses on a database. As a result, our ideas of these systems need to become streamlined and more regulated, which we can hope to see over this year and years to come. While MLSs create a wonderful way to connect with clients and sellers, they too need to evolve with the times as we continue to understand the pros and cons.