If you’re new to real estate investing, then the MLS is something that you should expect to hear mentioned very often. But what exactly is the MLS, and how can you find investment property on the MLS without hiring a real estate agent?
In this blog, I want to talk about the MLS, who has access to it, why would you need access to it, and how Mashvisor can be the best tool to help you find investment property on the MLS without an agent.
What is the MLS?
What is an MLS, exactly?
MLS stands for Multiple Listing Sites, and it refers to the collection of property-for-sale listings that are scouted and submitted by licensed real estate agents across the US in order for other agents to be able to access these listings.
Basically, when a real estate agent or a realtor finds an owner who wants to sell a real estate property, they gather all of the property’s details from the owner and submit them on the MLS. This way, other real estate agents can access that listing and share its information with potential buyers.
To further encourage agents and realtors, they usually get a percentage of the sale price for any property that they submitted to the MLS database.
And while the amount of data that each agent gathers about each property varies depending on the agent and the information that is available to her/him, you can expect to find all the necessary information about the property, including:
- Type of property
- Its price
- Its address
- Its current owner
- Its size
- Its condition
- Its status
- Number of bedrooms
- Number of bathrooms
But, although this is all important information that you would think anyone could have access to, investors and buyers actually can’t access it that easily!
Who Has Access to MLS?
Typically, access to the MLS database is limited to real estate brokers and realtors.
In other words, if you’re able to add new listings to the MLS as a licensed real estate broker, then you will naturally have access to it.
Conversely, if you’re a homeowner and you’re listing your home “for sale by owner”, you won’t be able to list it on the MLS since you don’t have access to it. Additionally, when a homeowner hires a broker to list their property on the MLS, they would have to pay a fee.
Read: What Are the Different Types of Real Estate Agents?
This is indeed one of the main reasons why; if you’re an investor, hiring a real estate broker is recommended. Because one of the easiest ways for investors to access MLS listings and information is through a real estate broker that they’ve hired to provide them with that data.
However, while uncommon, there are a few other ways that can give you access to MLS listings without having to hire a realtor or broker:
- Become a realtor or a broker yourself
- Get a real estate license
- Get sponsored
- Use an API like IDX Broker to access MLS data
- Access analytics based on MLS data through a real estate company or platform (like Mashvisor)
But most of these methods aren’t realistic for most investors. Getting a real estate license, for example, costs a lot of money and requires a time commitment and having to go through classes and exams. While getting sponsored is usually reserved for big investors with a lot of influence on the market.
Of course, one of these options is very easy and you can start using it right away. While I’m sure you’ve already guessed which one it is, I will not be talking about it just yet.
First, I want to talk about the different reasons why accessing MLS data is such a big deal and how it can make your life as an investor much easier!
Why Would You Need Access to the MLS?
As mentioned earlier, the MLS includes massive amounts of data on millions of properties for sale.
Having access to large amounts of data on several properties is extremely beneficial in the world of real estate investing, as it allows you to expand your options and compare properties with one another based on whatever criteria you choose to in order to find the perfect property to invest in.
Massive Amounts of Data
If you have access to find investment property on the MLS, you will be able to extract all the data that you need to do your real estate calculations and run real estate comps to basically cherry-pick the best investment property that you can find in the MLS database.
It is well-known that – in the world of real estate investing – the more data that you base your decision on, the better.
So, if you really want to find investment property on the MLS but don’t want to go through the trouble of finding a way to access this data, we recommend hiring a real estate broker and asking them to provide you with the data that you need.
Accuracy of Data
The MLS isn’t only known for the amount of data that it harbors, but also its quality.
The MLS database is considered to be the most accurate database when it comes to details on the property. This is due to the strict rules that are in place to make sure that licensed brokers and realtors maintain a high standard of quality and accuracy of the data that they submit about each property they list.
These rules include, but are not limited to:
- Accuracy of data: From the size of the property to its exact address, to the condition that the property is in.
- Time: New listings must be added to the database within a certain period of time. Members who fail to register the full listing by a specific deadline can be fined. The duration they have is typically 24 to 48 hours after they sign the listing agreement with the property owner.
- Photos: In the digital age, this became a crucial staple of the industry – members of the MLS have to provide a sufficient number of good-quality photos for each listing that they add.
These rules, coupled with the fines that are imposed on licensed brokers and realtors who break these rules, all help maintain the MLS’s standards of quality and accuracy for all properties listed on it.
Especially Useful for Sellers
While buyers benefit the most from the large number of listings that they can find on the MLS, sellers benefit from the large number of buyers who end up buying properties from the MLS.
If you’re a seller, you want your property to be listed where buyer agents go to find investment property for sale on the MLS.
This will drastically increase your chances of selling the property in a short amount of time. And since more buyers will be interested in buying the property, this high demand will help you sell your property at a higher price than you might’ve otherwise sold it for.
However, having your property listed on the MLS isn’t free!
You’ll have to hire a licensed real estate broker or realtor (which costs more than hiring a normal agent), and you’ll also have to pay a special fee to get your property listed on the MLS.
Is the MLS Data Sufficient to Make Smart Investment Decisions?
While the MLS gives you access to data that you won’t find anywhere else about the property itself, there are other external factors outside of the property that will highly affect your investment, and therefore your investment decision.
When you find investment property on the MLS, you will have access to that property’s information. But in order to accurately predict its performance as a rental property, for example, you’ll need to gather data about the location and the neighborhood where the property is located.
The location of the property will often have more impact on its performance as an investment property than the property itself. And two identical properties can easily have very different rental rates based on their location (state, city, and neighborhood), as well as their proximity to important services.
This kind of information isn’t something that you need an MLS for. You’ll need to do your own research or find other sources (like Mashvisor) to get information about the location to help you make your decision.
Read: What Makes for the Best Place to Invest in Real Estate?
Traditional & Airbnb Rental Data
Additionally, the MLS doesn’t really give you much to work with when it comes to the performance of rental properties and how profitable they are for investing.
Instead, you would have to find investment property on the MLS then contact the owners to ask about their rental rates or the area’s average rents.
Or, in the case of an Airbnb investment property, you would need to find the same property on Airbnb’s database to see its historic data and the amount of nightly/monthly rent that it was producing.
Read: Where to Get Reliable Airbnb Data in 2021?
Find Investment Property on the MLS Using Mashvisor
Despite all the benefits that any investor would get from having access to the MLS database, it’s important to re-emphasize that it’s very unlikely that you will be able to do so.
So, with no direct access to find investment property on the MLS, how can you benefit from the MLS data?
The answer that I have for you is Mashvisor.
Mashvisor and the MLS
Mashvisor is a real estate platform that gets its data from multiple sources, including Zillow, Airbnb, and as you might have guessed, the MLS.
However, the difference between Mashvisor and other listings sites is that Mashvisor doesn’t only provide you with the data as it is, but it also gives you analytics based on that data.
Part of Mashvisor’s platform is a machine-learning algorithm or AI which gathers big data from all of these sources, and it uses it to predict each property’s future performance based on complex calculations.
As I mentioned earlier, investors need to combine the data that they get from the MLS through their agent with the data that they can dig up online on the other aspects of the property or the market, such as rental rates for traditional and Airbnb properties, as well as their occupancy rates.
Additionally, Mashvisor is partnered up with several real estate brokers that provide us with further insights and insider notes that can be used and shared with potential sellers.
So, if you’re looking to find investment property on the MLS as well as other sources in order to conduct your real estate analysis before you buy investment property, then Mashvisor is the place for you!
But what exactly can Mashvisor do for you? And what kind of tools should you expect to find on the platform?
Investment Property Finder
The first and foremost tool that all real estate investors need is the investment property finder tool.
A property finder tool is a tool that you can use to search for properties that are listed for sale on the MLS or other sources.
Most property finder tools that you can find online come short in providing you with all the data that you need, and they often lack the right filters or search features to help you find investment property on the MLS with ease.
Mashvisor’s Property Finder tool, however, was designed to help all kinds of real estate investors, both experienced and beginner investors, by giving them lots of options to customize their search and narrow it down based on their criteria.
Using our powerful analytics, you can use the property finder tool not only to find rental properties for sale that match your criteria in terms of type, size, and price but even based on their projected future performance.
If you’re looking to find investment property on the MLS specifically to turn into a rental income property, you’ll be happy to know that using this property finder tool you can even search for properties based on their expected returns.
The filters include sliders for each property’s expected cap rate or cash on cash return, as well as occupancy rate, which helps you find properties that you can afford and that are expected to generate the high return on investment that you’re hoping to achieve.
To start looking for and analyzing the best investment properties in your city and neighborhood of choice, click here.
The MLS was created to help sellers sell their properties and to help buyers find good properties to buy, all while being managed by licensed real estate brokers and realtors.
Similarly, Mashvisor’s Property Marketplace serves the same purpose – but it’s available for anyone to use!
This is a simple yet very effective tool where interested buyers can check out properties listed for sale, including not only MLS properties but also off-market properties that are listed for sale-by-owner.
Sellers can easily list their properties for sale on Mashvisor’s property marketplace, while both buyers and sellers can enjoy access to a network of real estate agents, brokers and realtors that use our platform to find clients for their business.
Similar to the property finder tool, the marketplace utilizes a number of filters allowing you to find the perfect property for you in terms of property type, size, price, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, or in a specific location.
The heatmap is part of the property finder tool, but it is a great feature that deserves its own mention on the list.
The real estate heatmap feature allows you to choose from several filters to see a visual hot-to-cold representation on the map based on the filter that you’ve selected, letting you get a glimpse of what the market looks like for each of the following filters:
- Property listing price
- Airbnb occupancy rate
- Traditional cash on cash return
- Airbnb cash on cash return
- Traditional rental income
- Airbnb rental income
When it comes to doing a real estate market analysis or neighborhood analysis, this feature will allow you to massively narrow down your search in terms of the markets that you want to invest in by immediately telling you which areas are “hot” and which areas are “cold” for whichever metric you’re relying on.
Read: How to Evaluate a Neighborhood Before Investing
Analytics & Calculators
Last but not least, and even if you manage to find investment property on the MLS from other sources, Mashvisor can still be a great asset to you for its analytics and calculator tool.
As I mentioned earlier, Mashvisor crunches down bigdata to come up with projections about each property and each market’s future performance.
By looking at each property’s historical data and comparing it with other similar properties near it, our AI is able to give you real-time projections of that property’s future returns that are updated each time that investment property data is updated.
These analytics aren’t something that you will need to dig for, and they don’t require any effort on your part. As you’re searching through our platform for investment properties for sale using our other tools, you will notice that you’re being given insights and numbers like the cap rate and the cash on cash return for properties.
However, if you’ve already decided on one or more properties that you’re interested in, then you will be able to go deeper into their investment property analysis by visiting their analytics page.
The analytics page will show you how the values of the cap rate and cash on cash return were calculated, what the future looks like for the property in the next 10 years, and how it compares to other properties around it.
Additionally, you will gain access to our investment property cash flow calculator.
This calculator will come pre-filled with data based on the market’s averages and the most commonly used mortgage in that area.
However, you can play around and change these numbers as you see fit. This includes all of the property’s one-time and recurring expenses, as well as its rental income to tell you if the property has a negative or a positive cash flow.
Bottom Line – How to Find Investment Property on the MLS?
As you can see, finding investment properties on the MLS without an agent can be a hassle.
Unless you’re a licensed investor or a broker, chances are you’re not going to have direct access to the MLS database.
However, if you’re looking for a great source that gets its data from the MLS and provides you with all the additional data and analytics that you need to make smart investment decisions, then go ahead and subscribe to Mashvisor to begin your journey towards becoming a better real estate investor.