MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service, a software-driven, searchable database of available homes for sale and rent within a specified region. However, the MLS permits interested parties to do more than merely look at pictures of properties. Potential buyers and tenants are able to schedule an appointment for viewing with the real estate agent the property is listed with. In addition, real estate professionals are able to access and share information about properties with other agents and brokers. This means that putting a rental property on the MLS translates to more “hits” from qualified applicants than a traditional classified ad.
Understand that local MLS databases may be owned and operated by private entities that set their own regulatory guidelines. However, all MLS systems in the U.S. must adhere to certain rules set forth by the National Association of Realtors, or NAR. (In Canada, the Canadian Real Estate Association, or CREA.) The NAR regulates how real estate agents and brokers display information on their own Internet websites under the Internet Data Exchange (IDX) system. The agency also restricts national MLS access to accredited members of NAR. This means that, in most cases, a real estate agent or broker in good standing with the NAR must put a rental property on the MLS for you. He or she then becomes the listing agent for the property and you will be expected to pay a commission or fee if and when your rental property is rented.
Shop around when looking for a real estate agent or broker to list your rental property. Fees and commissions vary, and you might save money by comparing rate quotes. More importantly, it’s a good idea to do some research on the individual in terms of past performance and professional conduct. Ask for references, from industry professionals as well as clients.
Consider alternate routes to getting your rental property on an MLS system. Just like online services assist “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO) sellers for a flat fee, some service providers will list your rental property on local MLS systems for a fee. Again, shop around. Fees may be percentage-based, depending on the location and rental value of the property. Other service providers charge a flat fee, regardless of location and rental value.
Present your rental property in the best possible light by making plenty of pictures of the interior and exterior of the home or apartment available for your listing. Potential renters tend to search MLS systems by location first and then peruse listings based on visual appeal thereafter.