Everyone wants to sell their home, and they want to do it as quickly and as profitably as possible. You might get lucky and find a generous buyer the instant you put an ad for your home in the local paper, but odds are you'll need to get the word out more broadly before you'll get enough interest in the property to justify the price that you're asking. There are a number of ways to publicize a home for sale: print advertising, real estate supplements, bulletin boards, classifieds listings, online listings, and more, but the method that we're going to talk about is called the MLS. If you don't know what that is, you will by the end of the article.
The MLS is an acronym that stands for Multiple Listings Service. At first glance, it seems just like any online classifieds service like Kijiji or Craigslist, but with a focus on real estate. At its most basic, level that is what the MLS is. It's a source of listings information for homes in multiple areas. When you dig deeper however, you find out that the MLS is more than that.
The problem with online classified like Kijiji or Craigslist is that anyone can place an ad, which means you have no way of knowing at first glance whether the property listed in the ad is really for sale, or if the person who is listing the home even owns it. But with the MLS, you can be sure that every home is a legitimate sale listing because the MLS has very strict guidelines as to what can be included on the site. They do this by only allowing real estate agents who represent the sellers place ads rather than the sellers themselves.
Another way in which the MLS is different from your average online classified service is in that each real estate listing (like these home examples in Toronto, for example) will have the same information displayed about it because generally speaking realtors all read from the same playbook when it comes to creating home listings. You'll find out the square footage, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the features, the asking price, the lot size, the location, and more, and you can also look at pictures, for most of the listed properties.
The drawback of the MLS from a buyer's standpoint is that it only shows you the properties as the seller wants you to see them - that is, the photos will be taken from the best angle in the best light and with the less appealing parts of the home excluded. A home can look really inviting on an MLS-type website, and much less so in person. This doesn't mean that you will end up buying a house that's a poor deal, but it can mean wasted time going to view a home that's not suitable for your needs.
If you would like to take a look around a multiple listing service for Canada, something like it can be found here.