How the Multiple Listing Service Helps Homeowners Sell for the Highest Price Possible

How the MLS will Maximize your Sale Price

The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) has been a cornerstone in real estate since its inception in the late 1800s, revolutionizing the way properties are marketed and sold by enabling brokers to share vital information. A recent study by Bright MLS, analyzing over 1 million home sales transactions across the Mid-Atlantic region and the District of Columbia from January 2019 through the first quarter of 2023, underscores the significant role of MLS in achieving optimal home sale prices.

This system not only fosters cooperation among real estate professionals but also provides a competitive advantage for sellers by maximizing exposure and, ultimately, sale prices . Through this article, I’ll explore the mechanics of MLS and its profound influence on the selling process, highlighting why it remains indispensable for sellers aiming for the highest possible home sale price.

What is MLS and How It Works

At the heart of the real estate transaction process lies the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), a pivotal platform that has redefined how properties are bought and sold. Understanding the MLS and its operations is crucial for both sellers and buyers in the real estate market.

  • Access and Participation:
    • MLS listings are exclusive to brokers and their clients, ensuring a level of privacy and professionalism in the real estate market.
    • Only licensed real estate brokers and agents can list homes on the MLS, promoting a standardized and regulated environment.
    • Over 800 MLS databases exist, each serving as a private database that centralizes real estate listings in specific regions or local markets.
  • Benefits of MLS Listings:
    • Provides unparalleled exposure compared to traditional advertising methods, significantly increasing the likelihood of a quick and fair sale.
    • An impressive 92% of home sales are facilitated through MLS, underscoring its effectiveness.
    • Flat Fee MLS listings offer an affordable alternative for homeowners, allowing them to save on commission fees without sacrificing exposure.
  • Innovations and Policy Changes:
    • Recent policy adjustments by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) aim to enhance transparency and fairness in the real estate market.
    • These changes include prohibiting the inclusion of buyer’s agent compensation in MLS listings and mandating written agreements between buyers and their agents.
    • Such innovations ensure that the MLS continues to serve as a reliable and equitable platform for real estate transactions.

For Best Results

Advantages of Using MLS for Sellers

The advantages of using MLS for sellers are manifold, significantly impacting the sale price and the selling process‘s efficiency. Here’s a closer look:

  • Enhanced Sale Prices:
    • In 2022, homes sold through MLS fetched an 18.3% higher price than off-MLS sales.
    • The premium sale price for MLS listings rose from 13% in 2020 to 18% in 2022.
    • In major Mid-Atlantic metros like Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., MLS-listed homes sold for 15.1%, 18.4%, and 19.7% more, respectively.
  • Increased Exposure and Competition:
    • The share of on-MLS listings in the Mid-Atlantic hit 85.5% in 2022, showcasing its widespread use.
    • MLS levels the playing field among brokerages of all sizes, enhancing competition.
    • Sellers gain more exposure, and buyers access a broader range of listings, facilitating better matches between buyers and sellers.
  • Efficiency and Professional Assistance:
    • MLS listings are a tool for agents to attract motivated buyers, leading to great offers.
    • The system ensures sellers receive more highly qualified buyers, reducing unnecessary showings and saving time.

These advantages underscore the pivotal role of MLS in the real estate market, optimizing the selling process for higher sale prices and streamlined transactions.

Go to the Head of the Class

The Impact of MLS on Home Sale Prices

In the dynamic landscape of real estate, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) plays a pivotal role in determining home sale prices, leveraging the power of comprehensive exposure and competitive market analysis.

  • Market Dynamics and Pricing:
    • In a rising market, demand surpasses supply, setting a precedent where each new sale potentially elevates the neighborhood’s benchmark pricing.
    • The appraised value, crucial for mortgage approvals, aligns closely with the latest comparable sales (“comps”), adjusting for current market conditions.
  • MLS Impact on Sale Prices:
    • Properties marketed through MLS consistently outperform non-MLS listings in sale price, with a noticeable increase from 13% in 2020 to 18% in 2022.
    • Specifically, in 2022, MLS listings commanded an 18.3% higher sale price compared to off-MLS transactions.
    • In major Mid-Atlantic cities (Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C.), the premium for MLS-listed homes ranged between 15.1% to 19.7%.
  • Benefits Beyond Pricing:
    • The NNRMLS listings experienced a 17% sales price premium over off-MLS sales, translating to a significant $55,250 increase for a typical home.
    • Additionally, living area size further influences pricing, with every additional 500 square feet boosting home prices by 20%, showcasing the MLS’s ability to highlight property attributes effectively.
    • Beyond pricing, MLS fosters a level playing field, ensuring maximum exposure for sellers and comprehensive market visibility for buyers, thereby maintaining a competitive and equitable real estate industry.

This analysis underscores the MLS’s integral role in enhancing home sale prices and fostering a transparent, competitive real estate market.


Throughout this discussion, we’ve delved into the intricate ways that the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) underpins the realm of real estate sales, proffering compelling evidence of its efficacy in maximizing home sale prices. By harnessing the collective power of extensive exposure, competitive market dynamics, and the leverage of professional brokerage services, sellers leveraging MLS listings significantly outstrip their off-MLS counterparts in terms of sale price and speed of transaction. This synthesis of advantages not only underscores the indispensable role of MLS in today’s property market but also reaffirms its value proposition for sellers aiming to capitalize on their home’s potential.

Looking ahead, the ongoing evolution of MLS policies and the integration of technological innovations promise to further refine its effectiveness and fairness in real estate transactions. The evidence presented calls upon sellers to recognize the unparalleled benefits of utilizing MLS and encourages continued research into its evolving impact on the real estate landscape. As the market adapts and grows, the foundational principles of MLS ensure it remains at the forefront of enabling sellers to achieve the highest possible return on their most significant investment.

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About the Author
Seb Frey helps long-time Bay Area homeowners make their next move easily the next one yet. If you're looking for a minimum of hassle, maximum net cash on sale, and certain results, contact Seb today.