Most active MLS listings don’t provide investor-friendly information, such as rental income forecasts. Here’s how to change that.
Table of Contents
- What Is an MLS in Real Estate?
- How Do Multiple Listing Services Work?
- What Does Active MLS Listings Mean?
- Why Are Active MLS Listings Important to Real Estate Investors?
- How to Find Active MLS Listings for Real Estate Investors
- How to Use Mashvisor to Find Active MLS Listings Without a Realtor or Real Estate License
- Over to You
A successful investment property can be hard to find on your own. To begin with, you must have a real estate license if you wish to see active MLS listings. In addition, you may need to work within brokers’ and agents’ busy schedules to find investment property in a specific area.
Meanwhile, many listings in this database are available only to National Association of Realtors (NAR) members. In addition, continuous access can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the type of service.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Here is what an MLS is and why it is so crucial for your real estate investing success. This investor’s guide will also cover how to find active MLS listings without a realtor. It’ll also share an alternative to traditional MLS listing services that helps you find more lucrative properties faster, with no real estate license or a vast broker network.
What Is an MLS in Real Estate?
Multiple Listing Service refers to a database of homes for sale that realtors, brokers, and real estate agents use to view available properties in a particular area. MLS enables real estate professionals to share information about properties for sale among themselves and with potential home buyers.
The MLS is a network of multiple local services rather than one single platform. Combined, they form a network where agents with properties to sell and agents with potential buyers share detailed property information to facilitate sales.
How Do Multiple Listing Services Work?
MLS data is not publicly available. Only licensed real estate professionals can access, view, or share information about particular homes.
These real estate agents, brokers, and realtors help sellers list their homes in the local multiple listing service. There are over 900 local MLSs nationwide.
Homebuyers who are looking for a certain type of home in a particular area work with their agent (buyer’s agent) or realtor to find a home that meets their needs.
The criteria could be a three-bedroom, two-bath duplex for sale with two parking spaces, a pool, and within a particular location, for example.
After the buyer describes the type of home they are looking for, their agent will often log into an MLS to find listings that meet their needs. Real estate professionals must meet certain requirements to enroll in and access the MLS, such as providing proof of license, paying a fee, and adhering to certain rules.
Once the buyer’s agent joins the local database, they can search the MLS real estate listings, or investment properties for sale, that closely match the potential buyer’s criteria. The agent contacts the local seller’s agent when one or more homes fit the search criteria.
Meanwhile, the buyer’s agent also shares their findings with the potential buyer, who decides if they wish to purchase the property or continue searching.
What Home Information Is Available in the MLS?
MLS listings include houses for sale (new, resale, coming soon, etc), lots, investment properties, and land. Some of the valuable information you can find in home listings as an investor includes:
- Property status, such as pending, coming soon, contingent, availability for showings, etc.
- A brief description of the home’s highlight features
- Home size
- Listing price
- Age of the house
- The number of bedrooms, bathrooms, etc
- Several pictures or videos of the home’s interior and exterior
- The amenities in the area, such as freeways, schools, office blocks, parks, water features, etc.
- Renovations made to the house recently or throughout its lifetime, such as a new kitchen or bathroom
What Type of Information Do MLS Listings Show to Realtors, Real Estate Agents, and Brokers?
In most MLS systems, real estate professionals can access more confidential details, such as:
- Seller disclosures, such as a newly converted garage for an older child or to earn Airbnb rental income, which may be illegal in some places
- The seller’s reasons for selling
- Seller’s contact information
- The best time to visit a home for a showing
- Open house events coming up
- If the house had a previous case and when it was settled
- Prices of recently sold properties in the same neighborhood
- HOA regulations
- If a property is vacant
- Amount of commission cooperating agents will receive
MLS listings provide home sellers with maximum exposure to potential buyers, increasing their chances of selling at the listed price faster. MLS systems also make it easy for buyers to locate homes in a particular area that meet their needs in terms of size, price, condition, etc.
But, not all MLS listings offer useful information. For an MLS system to be useful, it must be an active MLS service.
What Does Active MLS Listings Mean?
An active MLS listing keeps track of which houses have sold and which are still on the market. It also continuously updates the information and notifies its members of changes.
In the MLS, each new listing has a unique number that changes only when the property is sold. MLS numbers are sequential, which allows members to identify the most recent property listings on that database.
Why Are Active MLS Listings Important to Real Estate Investors?
Active MLS services are vital to investors for several reasons:
- Find the perfect property before it’s gone. An MLS member does not have to spend hours looking for the latest listings in a particular area. Instead, they can jump to the most recent property number to analyze homes for sale.
- Track trends in a particular market over time. This can help you determine the right time or place to buy the right investment property or profitably sell your existing portfolio.
- Receive notifications about new, old, and pending deals. You can then compare properties that match your criteria, such as age of the house, size, neighborhood, nearby amenities, etc.
- See information about sold properties in the area. Information like that can provide valuable insight, including how much to budget for comparable properties in that area.
- Find out whether the area’s most recent selling prices are within your real estate investing budget, potential cash on cash return rate, cap rate, etc.
Limitations of the MLS
Still, MLS online listings aren’t perfect. For example, MLS searches rarely return results for For Sale By Owner (FSBO) property. As a result, you might miss out on investment opportunities from sellers who do not want to sell their homes with a full-service agent. However, there are a number of effective ways to buy an investment property or a house for sale by owner you can use.
Furthermore, outdated MLS listings can waste your time when you contact listings that are already sold, withdrawn, or too old.
But perhaps more significantly, most MLS searches do not bring up information that is investor-friendly. While you can find out the selling prices of homes in a particular area from MLS listings, they do not reveal valuable information for savvy investors, such as cash on cash return rate, cap rate, and rental income forecasts.
You will need to look elsewhere for that information.
That could mean taking several tours of a neighborhood, speaking with people in the industry, and working on other people’s schedules, by which time you might miss out on a lucrative real estate investing opportunity.
Yet, access to an active MLS service offers some advantages for home buyers and real estate investors. So, how do you find active MLS listings as an investor?
How to Find Active MLS Listings for Real Estate Investors
Even without a real estate license or being a full-service realtor, there are still ways to get access to the MLS. You can get the information from public MLS databases or work with a real estate investor. It is also possible to use the Mashvisor active MLS listings database on your own schedule, budget, and investment property preferences.
1. Public MLS Database
You can browse several publicly available listings that get their information from active MLS services — if you are willing to do significant legwork. Examples include Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor, all of which offer online listings.
Sites like ListHub let you peek through an active MLS feed in your area. You can also use IDX sites (real estate agents’ websites), syndication services, and data companies, provided you have the time to sift through the many listings you’ll receive, which are sometimes sent on short notice.
Another option is to search through individual realtor websites that provide active MLS listings near you or in the specific city you wish to invest in.
You’ll get basic details and capabilities from these types of MLS databases, such as:
- Create custom searches and save favorite properties for later review
- See “recently sold” information
- View list price changes on specific listings
- See “days-on-market”
- Find resales and foreclosures
- See home prices in a particular city, town, or neighborhood
Once again, you’ll have to devote time to fill in all the knowledge gaps. Some gaps include finding key numbers, such as cash on cash return rates, cap rates, and side-by-side comparisons.
2. Work With a Real Estate Agent
Alternatively, you can contact a full-service or limited-service real estate agent for MLS searches. Here’s the deal: the first step is to identify an investor-friendly realtor who has full access to active MLS listings.
Next, you’ll need to illustrate the value you’ll bring to the realtor. Otherwise, homebuyers could take the bulk of the time, expertise, and priority that the professional would give you. For example, you can offer cash bonuses, a flat fee, or both when they find properties with investment potential.
You would receive access to all the MLS listings the real estate agent has access to, so you can browse, filter, and select properties as if you worked at their firm.
Real estate professionals offer plenty of value to home buyers and sellers. However, the only way to know whether they can help you in your real estate investing journey is to try them out and see.
But, what other options are there?
3. Mashvisor Active MLS Listings Database
With Mashvisor, you can look for investment properties without direct MLS access, a real estate license, or a lot of legwork, so you can grow your portfolio faster. Mashvisor’s real estate investing tools also present active listings in an investor-friendly format.
The Mashvisor site provides active MLS feeds directly from credible and active multiple listing services, like the official Airbnb database. This means having access to dependable investor intelligence on any city, town, or neighborhood, and in a format that makes sense for you as a real investor.
Mashvisor is also a real estate analytics platform. So it can help you find an ideal investment property based on your:
- Target or Airbnb cash on cash return
- Rental income goal
- Risk profile
- Traditional or Airbnb occupancy rate
- Price to rent ratio
- Average price per square foot
- Median property price
- Location (state, county, city, town, neighborhood), etc.
So, how can you use Mashvisor to analyze investment properties?
How to Use Mashvisor to Find Active MLS Listings Without a Realtor or Real Estate License
If you’d like to compare traditional investment properties, Mashvisor pulls listings from credible sources like the MLS, Redfin, HotPads, and RentJungle.
If you’re looking to invest in short-term properties, such as Airbnb rentals, Mashvisor uses an API to deliver the latest market trends and help you compare short-term properties before they become outdated.
In Mashvisor, you can find:
1. Investment Property Calculator
Mashvisor’s investment property calculator helps you determine if a listing that you are looking at is the best deal available. It estimates the rental income and expenses based on comps in the area, but you may also enter your own numbers. The calculator will then project your cash flow, cash on cash return, cap rate, and investment payback, depending on your chosen rental strategy.
2. Real Estate Heatmap
This tool helps analyze active MLS listings and real estate market trends. By using predictive analytics, it shows different neighborhoods in a visual and color-coded way based on their performance across the factors you specify. Investment properties in the green generally represent desirable options. For example, they offer higher occupation rates, higher rental income potential, or low listing prices than yellow or red areas.
3. Compare Investment Properties Side-by-side
You can compare up to five investment properties at once. The tool compares data points such as location, potential income, investing strategy, selling price, Walk Score, sale schedule, and the number of rooms. The data is available for both traditional rentals and Airbnb listings on Mashvisor.
4. Property Marketplace
Can’t find FSBO property on that online listings site? No problem. Mashvisor’s property marketplace helps you discover off-market investment properties, including bank-owned homes, foreclosures, auction property, and resales. Just specify your needs in the filters, from budget and location to listing type, cash on cash return rate, cap rate, and traditional or Airbnb property.
5. Mashmeter Score
Find out which properties are prime for investment based on percentage scores. The percentage score is based on real estate data analytics across the neighborhood, enabling you to see investment properties in order of best to average.
Over to You
Active MLS listings provide plenty of valuable real estate data. But most MLS searches do not bring up investor-friendly information. You’ll rarely find any information about an investment property’s monthly rental income forecast, cap rate, or cash on cash return rate.
With Mashvisor, you get all three capabilities and more from wherever you are, whenever you want. Just browse and filter down to the best real estate investor gems according to your needs, compare with other properties in the neighborhood, and reach out to the owners right within the Mashvisor platform.
Killing time and burning money to make endless trips to multiple neighborhoods had their time. Now, you’ll want to leverage cutting-edge real estate analytics to make an informed move before the big fish get there first.
Get full access to Mashvisor for seven days for free to test it out, or schedule a demo to begin finding the perfect real estate investment property for you in minutes, not weeks.