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How To Get MLS Access: The (Ultimate) Guide

In this article, we're covering the important topic of getting MLS access. We’ll cover FAQs around getting access to the MLS such as: What is the MLS, the Power of MLS access, and of course, how to get MLS access?

Whether you’re a new real estate agent, house flipper, or wholesaler, we’re sure you’ll take something valuable away from this educational guide to increase your deal flow.

Let’s dive right in!

                                                                                                                                        

What Is The MLS?

The MLS stands for the multiple listing service. The MLS in your region is the database of all on-market houses for sale in your local market. The MLS is a private database maintained by real estate professionals to share information and help their clients buy and sell properties.

The MLS provides data such as:

  • Property pictures

  • Real estate listings

  • Listing agent’s phone number

  • Bedroom and bathroom count

  • Square footage of the house

  • Zoning and lot square footage

  • Important listing information about each property

Now, there are hundreds of different types of MLS systems across the nation, because they are region-specific. For example, if you have MLS access in Atlanta, Georgia, then you would only be able to access properties in that region.

So, having MLS access in Atlanta, Georgia, would not help you if you wanted to access on-market properties in Houston, Texas. Right? So, one region's MLS is different from the MLS in another real estate market. Let's make that clear.

how to get mls access local mls systems

Now, most people use the MLS for residential property, such as single-family houses. But, the MLS also has property listings for assets such as multifamily, which are two- to four-unit buildings, land, and commercial real estate like hotels, motels, business buildings, mobile home parks. 

                                                                                                                                        

Why Get Access To The MLS?

Now let's get into the power of MLS access. The MLS, as mentioned, is the database of all on-market property listings in your area. When a house is listed on the MLS, it's a green light that tells us a seller is willing to sell their property.

So, technically they are a motivated seller. That's what we really need to understand here. Any house on the MLS is for sale. The MLS is the ultimate source of all the on-market property in your region.

Everyone with a property on the MLS has essentially raised their hand to sell their house and is saying "Yes, I'm willing and able to sell!" This is one of the reasons Pro Wholesalers use the MLS as a primary lead source.

how to get mls access MLS data

There are other ways to get access to MLS data, but nothing beats the actual MLS. That's why we like to call the MLS "the king database." It is where other websites pull their information from because it is the source. So, we’re going to share software that has MLS data, that pulls a lot of the MLS data from different MLSs across the nation, and we’re also going to show you some websites with MLS data, as well. 

All of these methods of getting MLS data work. You can wholesale houses and invest in real estate using the actual MLS software with MLS data, and also third-party websites with MLS data, but nothing is going to beat out the actual MLS. It is the most up-to-date resource. So, we just want to make that very clear.

Now, having access to the MLS allows us to be on the offense. Having MLS access allows us to go after the exact deals that our cash buyers, investors, clients, and financing partners want. It allows us to be on the offense because everyone on the MLS already wants to sell their property. Right? 

We don't have to send out tens of thousands of dollars in marketing, direct mailers, cold calls, or bandit signs, to then have people come to us and tell us, "Yes, I want to sell" or "No, I don't." 

We already have all of the listings, all of the leads that people want to sell, and every single day there are new properties coming up on the market here. So, that's why we're able to be on the offense. We can be on the attack, and that's how we grow our businesses as Pro Wholesalers. That's how we get deals consistently every week and every month!


Read Also: Real Estate Marketing (The Ultimate Guide) | Real Estate Skills


                                                                                                                                        

How Much Does MLS Access Cost?

Now, the MLS is the least expensive way to get real estate deals, besides getting a deal handed to you for free. The cost of getting MLS access is extremely nominal. We’ll show you some free resources and some that range from $25 per quarter to $97 a month. Very inexpensive. You get one deal, and it more than pays for itself for years. 

For licensed real estate agents and brokers, the MLS access fee typically costs around $50 to $100 per month. They will normally pay a quarterly fee of around $150-$300, or they may pay a similar rate annually. The local MLS is typically administered by the Association of Realtors in that area, so they will require you to become a member. The local Realtors Association will provide you with login credentials and manage MLS user access for their subscribers. 

You may also be required to become a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and your state’s Association of Realtors.

Other users of the MLS, such as unlicensed MLS assistants and appraisers, normally come with lower costs to access the MLS database. Fees can be as low as $0 to $75 per month. The key here is to work with a licensed agent to obtain this type of access, which we’ll cover in more detail later in this guide.

Now, once again, the MLS gives you direct access to the database of all houses on the market in your area. It is the most data-rich source of properties in your area, and every day there are new houses being uploaded to the MLS in your area. So, you literally log in to the MLS, and new properties will be populated. It’s pretty amazing! It doesn't get easier than finding these new types of deals, new deals that you can wholesale each and every day.

                                                                                                                                        

How To Get Access To The MLS? (6 Methods)

how to get acess to the MLS

  1. Get A Real Estate License

  2. Using a Real Estate Agent’s or Broker’s Personal MLS Login

  3. Redfin, Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com

  4. IDX Websites

  5. PropStream

  6. Unlicensed Assistant Access

1. Get A Real Estate License

Pros: You're able to have your own MLS access for your area when you become a licensed real estate agent, broker, or appraiser. You’ll also be able to access the lockbox on houses for sale, so you can get inside homes with ease.

Cons: Time-consuming and expensive. Getting your real estate license entails purchasing and taking the necessary pre-licensing real estate classes, taking the state exam, and getting a license. Then, there are ongoing fees and exams to maintain your license.

Now, how long does it take to get access as a licensed professional? Well, if you had to become licensed, it's going to be four to six months, and really that's when you're on top of everything because the process of getting your real estate license can really take up to six months if you're not. 

You have to complete all pre-licensing coursework, complete all of the correct paperwork, in some states you need to get a fingerprint, send it in, take the state exam, and all of this stuff takes time. Now the cost with all the courses, with the state exam fee, licensing fee, and the MLS fee on top of that can really be around anywhere from $345 to $1,250. It really depends on the state that you are in.

2. Using A Real Estate Agent’s Or Broker’s Personal MLS Login

Pros: Full access to the MLS in your area.

Cons: An Agent/Broker needs to trust you enough to give you their access to the MLS. You do not have your own login information, and if they change their password without letting you know then you have to reach back out to them to get it. We advise that you check your local MLS rules prior to implementing this option.

How long does it take to get access? Depends on you finding the right Agent and Broker willing to give you their MLS Login. This isn’t too common, but we definitely know investors who have used this approach successfully in as little as 24 hours!

3. Redfin.com, Zillow.com, Trulia.com & Realtor.com

Pros: Quick, Simple, Free. Has a lot of the MLS Listings in the Nation.

Cons: More steps to find the Listing Agent’s Contact Information. Doesn’t have access to all of the MLS systems across the Nation. Sometimes there’s a 1-3 Day delay for new listings to be populated onto these sites.

How long does this take to get access? This is instant. You can go to any of these websites (Redfin.com, Zillow.com, & Realtor.com) right now to start contacting listing agents, making Discovery Calls, & submitting offers.

4. IDX Websites

Pros: Hop on most any real estate broker’s website to instantly search properties in your area. This is free, quick, and simple. An IDX site is a syndication of the local MLS feed that a real estate agent hosts on their own website.

Cons: This is NOT the same as getting MLS access. This is comparable to looking at properties on Zillow or Redfin, without a lot of the user-friendly features. 

How long does this take to get access? This is instant. You can go to any of these websites and access IDX feeds in seconds. While everyday home buyers will see most of the same properties that are on market, you will not be able to see all of the crucial information needed to run a successful real estate business.

5. PropStream

PropStream is a real estate software that pulls MLS data from across the nation, as well as data from other records, such as tax, lien, and mortgage information providers. 

Pros: Instant access to the majority of MLS listings in the nation. It helps with comping properties to get an accurate ARV, which is an after repair value. Though if you’re serious about real estate investing, you should learn how to calculate the ARV on your own.

Cons: It doesn’t contain about 5% of the MLS listings in the nation and there’s usually a seven to ten-day delay for new listings to be populated into PropStream.

Sign up for a free 7 day trial of PropStream.


Read Also: PropStream Review: Is It Worth It?


6. Unlicensed Assistant Access

Pros: Affordable, fast, and you don’t need a real estate license.

Cons: You do need to find a real estate agent or broker to partner with who will vouch for you as their assistant. Most real estate professionals don’t know about this option, so they may have some resistance in giving just anyone unlicensed MLS assistant access.

How long does this take to get access? It depends on how fast you can link up with an agent and vouch for you. You should expect this to take at least several business days to process once you submit the application for MLS assistant access. We’ll cover more on this in the next section.

                                                                                                                                        

How To Get MLS Access Without A License?

Let's dive into unlicensed assistant access to the MLS. What is it? Well, it's the quickest, easiest, and least expensive way to get full access to the MLS. You can literally get access to the MLS in a couple of days for $25 to $75 per quarter. That's typically how much this costs. It does vary and can be much less.

For example, check out the chart below which states the annual fees for unlicensed assistant access to Stellar MLS, a Multiple Listing Service database in Florida.
How to get MLS access cost

Source

Many of our students have been able to get access within a few days. For some, it takes longer, such as a couple of weeks. It really depends on how many agents and brokers you approach and speak with.

Now the core of what you want here is unlicensed assistant access to the MLS. This has other names such as MLS assistant access, assistant access, office assistant access, personal assistant access, unlicensed access, clerical access, administrative access, clerical assistant access.

There are different names, as you can see. I don't want you to be so stuck on one name. It can be called different things in different regions. That's why the core of what we want here is unlicensed assistant access to the MLS. You, if you are not a licensed real estate agent and you want access to the MLS, how do you get that? Through unlicensed assistant access using this strategy.

With unlicensed assistant access to the MLS, you typically have the exact same MLS functionality as a licensed agent or broker except that you cannot list properties, which means you cannot put properties for sale on the MLS, which is fine, because we do not need to do this as Pro Wholesalers.

You're not in here to be a real estate agent; you're in here to be a Pro Wholesaler. So, that's fine if your MLS assistant access doesn't give you the ability to put houses for sale on the MLS.

Now here's an example of an MLS assistant access application. This is something that you would fill out. You'd fill out your assistant information here. Then, you'd also fill out the information of the agent and then the broker, as well. 

how to get mls access unlicensed assistant access form

Source

Here is another example, another unlicensed MLS assistant access application for a different region. As you can see, it's not that much different. You need to fill out the contact information here and then have it signed by the agent and the broker in charge.

how to get mls access assistant application

Source

Now I want you to keep in mind that the exact process for getting MLS assistant access can slightly vary in different locations but is generally the same nationwide.

Now after a quick Google search, you should be able to find the local MLS in your area, the local association of realtors in your market, their contact information, as well as the form needed to request MLS assistant access

                                                                                                                                        

Best Practices To Get MLS Assistant Access

Try to speak with investor-friendly real estate agents and brokers VERSUS “retail” agents and brokers. This is because we want to work with agents and brokers that WANT to work with us. Connect with investor-friendly agents on social media, at Real Estate Investor Association Meetings (REIA Meetings), and through referrals.

You can do a simple Google search to find the closest REIA to you. Here are some examples below.

how to get mls access reia associations

Try to work with & ask small, boutique local brokerages rather than National Brokerages. In general, avoid asking National Brokerages for MLS Assistant Access, such as:

  • Compass
  • RE MAX
  • Coldwell Banker
  • Keller Williams
  • Berkshire Hathaway
  • Century 21
  • Sotheby’s, etc.

It’s easier to get MLS Assistant Access from agents and brokers who work for smaller boutique brokerages rather than national brokerages because smaller, local brokerages are less corporate, have fewer rules, and are more flexible.

Don’t expect every real estate agent or broker to already understand what MLS Assistant Access is. In fact, many agents and real estate brokers are unaware it exists! Don’t be alarmed. In these situations, educate them on what MLS Assistant Access is. Begin to position yourself as a potential unofficial member of their team so that in their eyes you are an assistant.

Don’t expect that the first agent or broker that you speak with will give you MLS Assistant Access. Expect to speak with multiple agents and brokers. Don't expect to get a “yes” on your first try.

Do not just get on an Agents’ or Brokers’ email distribution list. This is NOT MLS Assistant Access.

Real Estate Skills Tip: Remember, “Every ‘no’ you get, you are closer to a YES!”

                                                                                                                                        

How To Get MLS Access For Free?

Getting unlicensed MLS assistant access can be one of the best ways to obtain free access to the MLS. In some cases, there will be a nominal fee for an agent’s assistant to access the MLS. In other markets, it’s completely free for an agent to add on an assistant to access the MLS. 

What this does require is the unlicensed person to form an assistant relationship with a licensee, along with having both the licensee and their managing broker sign off on the unlicensed individual.

Let's take a quick look at one example of what the MLS would look like. Here is the dashboard of one of the local MLS systems in Southern California. 

MLS access MLS dashboard

Another strategy to obtain free MLS access is to partner with a real estate broker and receive a drip-feed of listings that match your home search criteria. All brokers and agents are able to provide this. However, this is not actually getting access to the MLS. This is simply getting selected listings sent to your inbox.

Some brokers may share login information with other agents and even unlicensed individuals, although we do not advise this as it’s generally not allowed by the MLS rules and regulations. 

We'd prefer to proactively access the MLS through free listing sites, such as Redfin, Zillow, and Realtor.com over these automated email notifications set up by Realtors. These listing sites often have better real estate information than the drip email campaigns from your agent.

In reality, these sites have more than 90% of the same information that the Multiple Listing Services contain. While you will not have access to all of the information, such as agent confidential remarks and showing instructions, and in some markets, closed sales prices, it’s an excellent way to get MLS access for free. 

                                                                                                                                        

Final Thoughts

In our eyes, getting MLS access is a no-brainer for any real estate professional that is serious about either real estate brokerage, real estate investing, real estate wholesaling, flipping houses, or all of the above.

Sure, you can burn tens of thousands of dollars per month in postcards, yellow letters, newspaper ads, and other marketing channels to generate leads. However, finding leads and submitting an offer on a property listed on the MLS will not cost you a dime.

To learn how to use the multiple listing service to acquire deals for investment purposes or wholesale them to hungry cash buyers, check out our new training video that covers how we help people invest in real estate all over the country, without spending a dollar on marketing! See you there!

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