MLS Access for Investors: What You Need to Know

Why MLS Access Is Important for Investors

If you’re a real estate investor, you know the key to turning a profit is to get your properties sold as quickly as possible for as much money as you can squeeze out of the deal. It’s basic math: the longer you hold onto your investment and the more you sink into it, the less return you’ll earn.

There are lots of decisions investors must make with residential real estate investments. Finding the right properties is the biggest consideration. Beyond buying and selling, there are questions of whether the property would sell for more if certain improvements are made. Forbes says, “With investment real estate, it’s all about the numbers. If the combination of the purchase price, estimated renovation costs, expected rental income and market conditions support a purchase decision, you can feel comfortable moving forward.”

Related: Common Mistakes Investors Make When Selling Their Flips

It’s a lot to consider, yet one question has a clear answer: “Should I get access to the MLS?” Without hesitation, YES.

The MLS is the place to get your investment properties sold. It’s where real estate agents, brokers, and buyers go to find homes. They want to see pictures, property descriptions and features, tax data and more before they take the time to come see the properties. If your property is not on the MLS, it is invisible to the majority of the very people you want to attract.

The National Association of Realtors reports that 51 percent of buyers find their homes on the Internet and 30 percent from a real estate agent. Nearly all of those, 81 percent, are relying on the MLS to provide the property data. In a nutshell, the MLS makes a significant impact on how quickly you will sell your properties.

The MLS gives investors more than just a place to list their properties. It provides them with invaluable historical data that sheds light on the best areas and homes that are more likely to provide a higher rate of return. The MLS is a game changer.

How to Get MLS Access

The primary issue with the MLS is that it isn’t free for investors. Only licensed real estate agents and brokers have access to their local MLS, as they are the only people who can add or remove properties as part of their license. Investors who want to mine the MLS data to inform their investment decisions and want their for sale properties listed on the MLS have four choices:

  • Get a real estate license
  • Pay a real estate agent or broker to list your properties for you
  • Pay an MLS listing service to gain access to the MLS yourself
  • Pay-per-day to list and manage properties, with optional agent support

Get A Real Estate License

Serious investors, those who buy and sell many properties a year, sometimes feel it is worth their time and effort to take a real estate course and pass the required exam in order to obtain their license. These classes are not free, require around 100 hours of instruction time, and an investor must maintain their license, adding additional ongoing education costs.

Despite the time and costs, if an investor sells enough properties, it can end up saving them money in the long run to have their own license. It also helps them avoid reliance on other agents. There are other options for those investors who don’t have the time or desire to obtain their license, many of which are relatively inexpensive.

Hire a Real Estate Agent or Broker

A licensed real estate agent and broker can get investors access to the MLS, but it will shave off around six percent from the profit, as buyers’ agents and the investor’s agent will each require a commission. If the purpose of the investment is to earn income, losing this much in commissions should be weighed with the benefits. You can go with a discount broker and can save money on the seller’s agent side but will still have to pay the buyer’s agent their commission.

A real estate agent/broker will be able to provide their services, however, which can help investors take a more hands-off approach in the sale of their properties. Investors give up some control, which many dislike, but others appreciate the fact that they can focus on other projects and work knowing the agent is taking care of all of the transactional tasks.

If you go this route, be sure you know what you’re paying for. Will your agent show your home to every potential buyer? Will they get to the property before a showing to turn on lights and ensure the property is looking its best? Will they follow up with the buyer’s agent or buyer to get feedback after the showing? Will they distribute marketing flyers, post properties on social media platforms, and meet with the appraiser? You want to be certain that if you’re sacrificing that much in commissions, you’re getting plenty of benefits in return.

Pay a Listing Service

With an MLS listing service, investors will pay a flat fee to gain access to the MLS. While this fee is actually going to a broker, the access does not come with any real estate agent services. It is strictly to gain access to the MLS.

Most services offer MLS access for a specific period of time. The cheaper options give investors access for a shorter time, while ones that charge more may offer unlimited access. This fee is paid upfront and is typically non-negotiable.

Pay-Per-Day to List and Manage Properties, with Optional Agent Support

Another option growing in popularity is more of a hybrid approach to real estate investing. All investors want to turn a big profit. All want to sell properties quickly and as easily as possible. Most, however, want the option to get a little help along the way if they need it.

Related: 7 Reasons to Work with a Flat-Fee Real Estate Broker

Fortunately, there is a solution. ListingSpark, for example, offers MLS access for investors, but much more – all for a per-day price. Investors don’t have to worry about how to get MLS access and they can manage their properties in one place on their own online dashboard. This is a significant benefit, as the more properties an investor has, the more challenging it is to track all of the scheduling, showings and offers.

Even more, this option supports investors with licensed agents who are ready to answer questions as part of the per-day pricing or provide more involved support for a low fee. This gives investors peace of mind that they have access to not only the MLS but access to experts if they need it – all without paying high commissions. They pay the daily fee only for as long as the properties are on the market until closing.

No matter which option you choose, you can feel confident that MLS access for investors is achievable to help you sell properties faster and for more return. The faster you can sell your properties, the more properties you can then invest in and sell. MLS is your friend, helping you introduce your investments to buyers in the most efficient, informative way possible.

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