4 Ways Investors Can Get MLS Access Today

Key Takeaways

  • It’s possible to gain access to MLS listings without having a real estate license.
  • Find a real estate agent who will work with you as a part of your own team.
  • Use Realtor.com, which can provide broker information for properties.
  • Use ZipRealty.com, which offers comprehensive information that rivals the MLS.

Have you ever wondered how today’s investors get MLS access?

Though the multiple listing service (MLS) is a key part of any traditional homebuying experience, and requires a real estate license to access, it is an often overlooked part of the real estate investing process. While, at times, it can be a challenge to find distressed properties — which serve as the foundation for many investor’s portfolio — there are still real estate deals to be found on the MLS, especially if you know where to look.

Investors are, therefore, left with several questions: Can I get MLS access without having a real estate license? Do I have to go about the task of obtaining a real estate license, which requires both time and money, in order to look at those listings?

The unequivocal answer is, yes. It is possible to get MLS access without a real estate license. When done correctly, the MLS can be a dynamic (and profitable) source of leads for your real estate business.

What Is The Multiple Listing Service?

The Multiple Listing Service, or MLS as it is known in the investor community, is an attempt to facilitate real estate transactions between real estate brokers. In its simplest form, however, the MLS “is a tool to help listing brokers find cooperative brokers working with buyers to help sell their clients’ homes,” says the National association of Realtors (NAR). As it turns out, the MLS is a private database, but there are ways for people outside of the NAR to access it.

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multiple listing service access

The Closest Thing To Free MLS Access For Investors

1. Working With a Real Estate Agent

This is probably the most difficult strategy, at least at first, for accessing the MLS without applying for a real estate license, but it’s usually the most rewarding in the long-term. Find and connect with an investor-friendly agent who will grant you access to the MLS.

This approach requires more than a little confidence and assertiveness (not to mention the ability to negotiate), but mostly it requires you to be crystal-clear about what you are offering the agent in return for access to the MLS. This could include things like:

  • Finder’s fee percentage on property deals
  • Flat fee
  • Mix of percentage and flat fee
  • Grunt labor of filtering through the MLS (as if you were an assistant)

The key is to accentuate the benefits to the agent; “You’ll save time, make money, and possibly get more commissions!” In addition, you want to stress that this is a working real estate networking relationship that the agent can opt out of at any time. From there, it’s just a matter of setting you up as an unlicensed assistant with the MLS administrator of the brokerage the agent belongs to.

Finding an investor-friendly agent can sometimes be a challenge. A couple of good sources include:

  • CraigsList ads
  • LinkedIn ads & groups
  • Facebook groups
  • Agent forums
  • Your real estate network
  • Investor-friendly brokers

2. Realtor.com

Chances are, you’re already familiar with Realtor.com, but just in case this resource isn’t already on your browser speed-dial, Realtor.com is a free service that gives you the ability to scan for listed properties in a given area.

What Realtor.com lacks in comprehensive data and information — their property listing are somewhat on the basic side — they make up for in one very valuable detail: they provide the phone number for each broker representing the seller of a property.

From there, if you want more detailed information, it’s just a simple task of compiling your list of phone numbers, pulling out your phone — or outsourcing it to an assistant — and beginning the task of gathering information and filtering out potential real estate leads.

3. ZipRealty.com

ZipRealty is like a souped-up, super-charged version of Realtor.com. Beyond the modest property information, provided by Realtor.com, ZipRealty goes a step further by offering key details, such as whether a property is a short sale or it’s an REO property.

You can gather data about property pricing, and discover whether or not there have been significant price drops on a property, and at what point in the calendar those price drops happened; a key piece of intel to have when entering negotiations.

4. Individual Realtor Websites

In nearly every market, and every neighborhood, there are real estate agents who pay for MLS listings to be available on their personal websites. They use it as a lead-generation tool, but this doesn’t mean you can’t use it for the same purpose, from an investing perspective.

Though real estate agent websites can differ widely, many platforms will allow you to create custom searches, view pricing changes, learn vital info such as a property’s days-on-market, and “save” your favorite properties.

Of course, this may require you to do a bit of legwork to discover which real estate agent websites can help you reach your researching goals, and some agents may have different listing information than others, but learning which agents specialize in which particular areas of your market is not a bad way to spend your time, and can pay off big in the long run.

As we’ve detailed above, it is absolutely possible to get access to the MLS without a real estate license. If you’re willing to put a little sweat equity into it — and cultivate relationships with realtors in your local area — you may find your burgeoning relationships pay off in other ways, besides letting you look at a few property listings.

Have you had any luck trying to gain access to get MLS access with a different strategy?  Better yet, where have you had the best luck in doing so?  Feel free to share your favorite tactics in the comments below.


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Real Estate Investing Strategies
Real Estate Investing Strategies
Real Estate Investing Strategies
Real Estate Investing Strategies
Real Estate Investing Strategies