Access to the MLS online is very important in today’s real estate investment market, particularly when finding investment opportunities.
Table of Contents
- What Is the MLS?
- How Important Is the MLS for Investors?
- Can Agents Offer MLS Access Online to the Public?
- Are There Alternatives to the MLS Online?
- Best Online Platforms if You Don’t Have Access to the MLS
- Bottom Line – What Is the Best Alternative to the MLS Online?
Regardless of what type of investor you are, you will most likely need to use the MLS at some point when dealing with real estate.
But what exactly is the MLS? How important is it for investors? How can you access the MLS online without having to spend a large amount of money?
In this article, we will answer the above questions for you. We will also provide a list of alternative platforms to the MLS in 2022.
What Is the MLS?
First and foremost, let’s start with what the MLS is.
MLS stands for Multiple Listing Sites, which refers to the massive databases where all the real estate listings handled by licensed agents and realtors can be accessed. The combined efforts of real estate brokers around the US several decades ago helped create the MLS database.
The MLS online is now considered a core part of the real estate market. It allows real estate agents to do their jobs in helping buyers and sellers find their deals.
How Does It Work?
Consider a homeowner or a home buyer who hires a licensed real estate agent. The agent will then upload all of the data related to that transaction on the MLS online. The data will include the transfer of the property ownership and the asking and selling prices. Users can also learn about the condition of the house and any other relevant information.
When considering that it applies to both new homes for sale and past real estate deals, you can imagine the amount of valuable data that exists on the MLS real estate.
However, in order to access the database, you must be a licensed real estate agent or realtor. So, as an investor, you’ll need to hire a licensed agent who can access the MLS real estate database. An agent will be able to share their insights to help you find a suitable deal.
How Important Is the MLS for Investors?
Traditionally, it is not easy to access the MLS online without the services of a licensed agent. However, the need for the data that it provides is just as important to investors.
Since today’s real estate market moves very fast, investors need to keep up with the rapid pace of the market. They must close deals quickly before the market moves against them.
Additionally, investors in the housing market 2022 are very different from investors 20 years ago. Today’s investors are tech-savvy and rely heavily on data and real estate analytics. It is the most efficient and least risky way of investing in real estate.
When you’re relying on data to make your investment decisions, the more data you can access, the better.
Related: The 21st Century Must-Have Real Estate Investment Tools
Using MLS Data for Analyzing Investment Properties
As mentioned, real estate investors rely on data to plan their investments and make investment decisions. When you want to buy an investment property in a new market that you’re unfamiliar with, you will need to analyze that market’s data to figure out what you’re looking for.
For example, by comparing the asking and selling prices of properties in a market, you can find out if you can negotiate prices down on properties that you’re interested in.
If you notice that properties in a specific market have recently been selling at 5% below their listing price, you know that you can negotiate the price of properties down by that much.
Such a type of insight can only be possible by having access to large amounts of data that are also up to date.
Since the MLS is the single biggest source of real estate listings data, it makes sense that it provides immense value to investors.
Can Agents Offer MLS Access Online to the Public?
Generally, licensed real estate agents are the only ones who are permitted access to the MLS online listings platform. However, buyer agents will typically give temporary and partial access to their clients so they can find properties they are interested in buying.
Since the MLS includes personal data about property owners and their contact info, the information is usually locked behind walls. They are only accessible to licensed professionals.
Although most of the information about property owners can be accessed through other means, such as skip-tracing or public tax records, it requires a lot of time and effort to do so. That is why most buyers hire a realtor.
The Downside of Accessing MLS Listings Through an Agent
If you’re looking to buy a home as a primary residence, hiring an agent to help you find MLS listings is probably going to be enough.
However, as an investor, you want to access the MLS online and get a lot of data during every step of your investment journey. It means that if you’re relying on an agent, you would need to spend a lot of money on their fees in return for their time and the data they’re getting you.
While you will still probably require an agent for closing deals, when it comes to planning your investment and analyzing the market and properties, it makes more financial sense to use alternative sources.
Are There Alternatives to the MLS Online?
Traditionally, the MLS database was the only truly reliable way of accessing information that is invaluable to all real estate investors. Luckily, the 2022 housing market offers several alternatives to find and advertise your listings online without the MLS.
Whether you’re trying to find properties to buy or you’re looking for the best way to sell a house online besides the MLS, you will find plenty of online platforms that provide such services.
In recent years, online real estate platforms have evolved to provide even more value than giving access to the MLS online listings. By using public digital records, connecting with other online platforms and databases, and cooperating with real estate agencies and brokerages, these alternatives are becoming necessary tools for investors.
So, the next part of the article is dedicated to talking about the best online platforms that you can use as alternatives to the MLS online.
Related: Listing Your Home for Sale: A Complete How-to Guide
Best Online Platforms if You Don’t Have Access to the MLS
As mentioned above, there are plenty of online platforms nowadays that can be used as alternatives to the MLS online.
However, deciding which tool to use depends on what you need to do with it. For example, the best platform to advertise your listing online without the MLS can be different from the one you would use to search the MLS online for listings to buy.
The best MLS listing online platforms will typically offer more than just access to the MLS for either selling or buying real estate. Below, we give you all their niche uses and specializations. They include allowing you to search the MLS online or analyze investment properties for their future returns.
Regarding online real estate platforms that help investors, Mashvisor is, without a doubt, the first one that comes to mind. The platform offers unlimited access to a massive database covering most areas of the US housing market.
Mashvisor’s data comes primarily from the MLS through a network of trusted agents and realtors, but the platform also gathers data from Airbnb’s database.
When using Mashvisor to search for investment properties for sale or house rentals, its intuitive and highly customizable search tool is simply the best. The tool allows you to search for properties based on your chosen criteria, such as your budget, the type of property, or the rental strategy you want to use.
But the platform truly shines when you include all the insights and analytics into your search. It is perhaps the most unique aspect of Mashvisor.
The platform uses machine-learning AI that gathers data from reliable sources and analyzes it to produce valuable insights about each market and property. The insights include simple information such as the rental income that each property can potentially generate.
More importantly, the insights include more advanced analytics, such as the projected return on investment for each property through metrics like the cap rate and the cash on cash return.
Finally, another advantage of using Mashvisor is that its data includes foreclosed and for sale by owner (FSBO) properties.
Realtor.com is one of the most popular real estate websites that people use as an alternative to the MLS online. It is because using the website is the closest option to accessing the MLS that investors can use.
As its name suggests, Realtor.com is associated with the National Association of Realtors. However, it doesn’t get access to 100% of the MLS. On the other hand, it provides a very significant amount of data. It does so by connecting to several hundreds of different multiple listing services around the country.
The biggest advantage of using Realtor.com over other similar platforms is probably its most up-to-date and accurate data. But, while the website is very popular as a tool for investors to get data for their investment planning and analysis, it does come with a glaring downside.
The downside is that the website doesn’t offer the option to search for listings outside of the MLS. Also, it does not allow sellers to list their properties for sale on the website.
So, if you’re an investor and you want to search for FSBO listings, then Reator.com isn’t the option for you.
As its name suggests, the website specializes in foreclosures.
Foreclosures are properties that are not publicly listed on the MLS, and gathering data about them is typically not easy.
It makes foreclosure listings very valuable because they’re usually cheaper than the market’s prices. In addition, they are not subject to as much competition as the other property types.
However, beginner investors might struggle to make a successful investment with foreclosures. It is because foreclosures are much harder to analyze and predict their success. Still, foreclosed properties can often turn into great investment deals if you play your cards right.
So, if you’re planning to use foreclosure data as an alternative to MLS data, Foreclosure.com is an excellent option.
Related: How to Find Foreclosed Properties for Sale
Similar to the previous option, if you’re looking for an alternative source of real estate data, FSBO.com specializes in non-MLS for-sale-by-owner listings. The website is an excellent option for investors who prefer to work without an agent. They can deal directly with the sellers who list their properties on the website.
Sellers, in particular, find great value in the platform. It allows them to sell their properties without paying a fee to an agent to list their properties on the MLS online. FSBO.com’s fee-less setup makes it one of the best ways to sell a house online besides the MLS.
Trulia is another great option if you’re looking for the best MLS listing online platform that comes with a user-friendly search tool.
While it doesn’t offer in-depth analysis like Mashvisor, Trulia’s popularity comes from its simple design and user-friendliness, as well as a robust mobile app.
Both the website and the mobile app are accompanied by guides and tutorials. They help beginner investors learn how to use such tools when looking for real estate for sale.
Bottom Line – What Is the Best Alternative to the MLS Online?
The MLS database is a very helpful tool whenever a real estate investor wants to do an in-depth market analysis.
In today’s housing market, there are plenty of options available when gathering data online about new homes for sale. But if you’re looking for the best option, in my opinion, Mashvisor easily takes the top prize.
Mashvisor’s platform offers several advantages besides the basic use of finding house rentals and new homes for sale. Its property analytics provide excellent value that helps investors make informed decisions and plan the future of their investments. It also includes a heatmap tool to help you find properties more easily. A customizable investment calculator enables users to analyze each property more accurately.
Luckily, Mashvisor also offers a free trial. You can try it and see the best alternative to the MLS online in action.
To start using Mashvisor’s real estate investment tools, sign up for a 7-day free trial today, followed by 15% off for life.