How the MLS® Works

The latest Insights Report was just released & inspired the topic for today's post.

First, let’s start with some messages I’ve received recently:

Thought you'd send cheaper places, I see all these on

Where is the rest of the information about this house

Where are the photos?

Maybe you’ve had similar thoughts & questions, so let’s talk about how the MLS® works:

  • When a seller signs listing paperwork they can choose to be “exclusive” or on the MLS® - exclusive listings are NOT on the MLS®

  • MLS® listings are then uploaded to a data system operated by a real estate board – different boards use different data systems

  • Each real estate board then sends the listings to CREA (The Canadian Real Estate Association)

  • CREA owns the MLS® trademark logo & also administers & owns the & websites for the public

  • Through data sharing agreements (DDFs), listings are then distributed by CREA to websites like mine, other 3rd party sites like Zolo & HouseSigma & of course,

  • Bottom line is that if it’s an MLS® listing, then that listing is going to be on thousands of sites – YOU choose what site you’re going to look at it on

  • And the information is only as good as what was input into the data system in the first place – which means that if the listing agent didn’t include pictures in their submission, then there aren’t any available. Very rarely it means that there’s a glitch with the data transfer at the board level or at CREA & once that’s fixed, the pictures will be visible.

  • Why would an agent not include pictures? The most common reasons are that the property is tenanted & they haven’t allowed it, or it doesn’t “look” good in some way. No picture of the kitchen or bathrooms? They’re probably not renovated…

  • A few honourable mentions when it comes to “the information is only as good as what was input”:

    • We are limited to a list of specific key words when it comes to features & finishes of a property – for example, “granite” is a key word that’s available for countertops, but “quartz” isn’t. These key words are what allow a listing to be captured in a search

    • Not every field in the data submission form is mandatory – square footage & age of the property, to name a couple – which will make search results incomplete if you try searching by that criteria

    • In the “remarks” & “extras” sections of a listing we have free reign to write whatever we want

    • There are 2 “remarks” sections, 1 that the public can see & another that is only for agents

    • The data system software automatically capitalizes the first letter of each word – that’s not us, lol!

    • A human is inputting the listing data into the system, so mistakes do happen


So there you have it, a peek behind the curtain of how the MLS® works - from listing paperwork being signed, to the listing ending up in your inbox or on your screen each day! 

Until next time,

If you’re up for some additional reading, check out these links:

Breaking the month of November down in my Durham Housing ReportHERE Insights Report – HERE


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