Posted in: Buying a home, Selling a home

What is an MLS listing?

Multiple Listing Service MLS

Buyers and sellers look at online MLS listings every day. But what exactly does it mean for a home to be posted on the MLS? And, what does MLS stand for?

The MLS, also known as the multiple listing service, is a service REALTORS® use to publish property listings so the listings can be found by other agents and potential buyers. In other words, the MLS can help you on your hunt for a new home by providing credible housing data and insights on available properties.

Whether searching for a new property to purchase or selling your current home, it’s important to utilize the MLS. In the meantime, here are some questions and answers that you may have about the MLS:

  • What is an MLS listing in real estate?
  • What are the benefits of an MLS?
  • How does an MLS work?
  • How do I use an MLS?

Multiple listing service: What it means and why it matters

The MLS provides a database of available and sold properties in a given area. This online service constantly updates property information and notifies MLS members, such as Realtors and brokers. There is no single MLS that serves the entirety of the U.S.; instead, over 800 MLSs across the country work to provide housing data for their defined market areas.

Because housing information is tailored to certain regions throughout the country, each MLS is specific to the area that it encompasses. The goal of an MLS is to make it easier for homebuyers, sellers and Realtors to find what they are searching for in a given market.

MLSs are membership-only, and their members tend to be the Realtors and brokers who support the service. This means that MLSs are not usually directly accessible to the public; however, they do license their data to be used by home search websites. So while most consumers will not log into their local MLS, they will view MLS listings on local or national websites that are powered by MLS data. For example, Edina Realty is a member of seven local MLSs, which allows to publish virtually every listing available in Minnesota or western Wisconsin.

What is an MLS number?

The MLS utilizes a system to assign a number to every home within the database. A new number is attributed to each new home sale. Because listings acquire numbers in sequence, it’s possible to tell which listings are newer and older based on their MLS number.

Keep in mind, if a home sells or is withdrawn from the market, it will receive a new MLS number if it is ever listed again. However, if a pending sale falls through but the home remains on the market, the property will retain its MLS number until the sale is complete.

In short, the MLS number helps keep track of how recently a home was listed for sale and it provides a quick way to reference properties in the system.

How is an MLS real estate listing different from other listings?

To list a home on the MLS, you must be a member of that MLS. Typically, Realtors and brokers pay a membership fee to their local MLS (or to more than one MLS) in exchange for the ability to list and view properties in the system. To get a home listed on the MLS, it is typically necessary to work with an agent who pays dues to that MLS.

Aside from the MLS, other potential home listings include:

  • Pre-list properties. These “pre-market” homes can be marketed internally by agents who are networking with other agents within their brokerage. If you’re interested in seeing these pre-list properties before they hit the market, your Realtor will be your best asset.
  • Other withheld properties. Certain high-value and high-profile homes may be listed off the MLS in order to maintain seller safety and privacy. However, networking agents would have access to this sale information.
  • For sale by owner or FSBO homes. While there are websites that list FSBO properties via the MLS, many self-sellers choose to market their properties independently, if at all.

Benefits of multiple listing services

Thanks to the MLS system, real estate professionals can easily network and share housing information. At the same time, this platform is beneficial to homebuyers and sellers. The MLS makes listings more accessible to buyers and provides a place for sellers and their properties to gain exposure. Additional benefits to utilizing the MLS for your home purchase or sale include the ability to:

  • Access property status. Each MLS listing will include the status of a given property. So, you’ll have up-to-date information including whether a certain home is available, has an active contingent status or is in a pending sale.
  • Display a wide variety of homes. No matter what size agency or brokerage you’re working with, the MLS provides equal access to all members. Therefore, buyers and sellers can feel confident that they have access to all active available homes while working with an agent that has MLS access.
  • Showcase a home while maintaining privacy. While the MLS will display a home for sale to all members, and typically the public, certain details will be kept private. This allows the property to be advertised while safeguarding details like the seller’s contact information and whether a property is vacant.

How does an MLS work?

The MLS is paid for and created by real estate professionals as a way to cooperatively market and sell properties across various brokerages. Although there are different MLSs for different geographic areas, the breadth and reputation of the MLS as a whole make it the primary data source for all home listings.

Edina Realty is a member of seven local MLSs, providing access to all available home listings in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

What does an MLS listing include?

After teaming up with a Realtor to sell your home or to find your next property, you’ll begin to either post or look at MLS listings. Properties listed on the MLS typically include the following details:

MLS listing for sale

  • Photos
  • Number of rooms
  • Unique home amenities
  • Asking price
  • Status of property (e.g. “coming soon,” “pending” or “contingent”)
  • Availability for showings

MLS listings exist for both sale and rental properties, but the MLS post may look different depending on whether the property is for sale or rent. For instance, a rental property may include monthly costs, duration of the lease and a clear indication that the property is being leased. In some circumstances, a home may be listed for sale and rent simultaneously.

How do I use an MLS?

Buyers and sellers can both use the MLS to their advantage, although they won’t normally use it directly. According to the National Association of Realtors, “MLSs are private databases that are created, maintained and paid for by real estate professionals to help their clients buy and sell property.” There are a few MLSs around the country that allow for public access, but none in Minnesota or Western Wisconsin.

Therefore, homebuyers and sellers will use a website or property search tool that is powered by MLS data, such as, rather than using the MLS directly. To ensure that they are accessing accurate listing information, buyers should confirm their preferred property search is using reputable information from MLS data, and not data that is aggregated from less reputable sources.

How do I find my local MLS?

MLS map

In our market area of Minnesota and western Wisconsin, only members can see MLS information directly. So, unless you are a member of a local MLS, you will not be able to access the database. Nonetheless, property information that has been approved for public view — such as the number of bedrooms, asking price, square footage and listing photos — will be available on any website that has MLS affiliation.

How does Edina Realty use the MLS?

Edina Realty and our agents utilize the MLS to showcase home sellers’ listings and to help home buyers find their next dream home. Edina Realty provides information on properties represented by our brokerage, but also by other brokerages through a system called broker reciprocity.

By participating in broker reciprocity, Edina Realty displays the details of virtually every active and available, coming soon or sold property listing via the property search on Simply use the home search feature to see available homes near you, along with their MLS-approved details and features.

What makes Edina Realty different?

At Edina Realty, all of our agents are licensed Realtors who have agreed to work by the shared code of Realtor ethics. Whether you’re listing your home for sale on the MLS or you’re searching properties to purchase, you can rest assured that you’re in capable hands while working with an Edina Realty Realtor.

Additionally, Edina Realty goes above and beyond to ensure that our clients are always receiving the highest quality service.

  • Our MLS listings are updated every 15 minutes, so you know you’re always looking at the most up-to-date property information and availability.
  • More property photos are found on in comparison to our four top competitors.
  • Edina Realty is a part of seven local MLS services, allowing us to display every active, available property for sale in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, as well as coming soon listings and sold properties.

Access local MLSs; find your dream home with Edina Realty

In a fast-moving housing market like we’re in today, buyers can rest assured that they're receiving accurate, up-to-date information about homes when they search on websites powered by MLS data. These sites, like, will include detailed information on the property’s status, price and availability for showings.

While working with your Edina Realty Realtor, you’ll have a licensed professional who can access the MLS and other important resources that will help you through the home transaction process. Reach out to Edina Realty or your agent to get started on your home buying or selling journey.

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Status Definitions

For sale: Properties which are available for showings and purchase

Active contingent: Properties which are available for showing but are under contract with another buyer

Pending: Properties which are under contract with a buyer and are no longer available for showings

Sold: Properties on which the sale has closed.

Coming soon: Properties which will be on the market soon and are not available for showings.

Contingent and Pending statuses may not be available for all listings