As real estate agents, the MLS is our constant go-to source for information. Number of bedrooms? Go to the MLS. Square footage? Check MLS. Types of floors? It’s right there on MLS. The MLS is one of the most utilized tools in our real estate toolbox., and also one of the most abused. Just last week, I was at a listing appointment where the owner asked me whether withdrawing her home from MLS and then reentering it would reset the Days On Market Counter (thankfully, it does not). We’ve all seen the “2000 square foot charmer” that looks more like a 1300 square foot dump with a leaky roof. It happens all the time – incomplete listing information, manipulation of Days On Market, even homes entered into the wrong areas to garner more traffic.

For years, agents have had “private” use of the MLS, and were the gatekeepers for buyers wishing to get more information regarding a particular home. If a buyer wanted information on a home, they called their agent who searched the MLS for more information. Agents held the key, literally and figuratively, and the information provided went to the consumer THROUGH the agent. This position has changed, with the rise of real estate websites offering the promise of free – or slightly free – information on neighborhoods and even particular homes. The MLS is no longer the go-to resource for real estate information, it’s now just one of many consumer marketplaces for home buyers and sellers.

Why then, if the information we enter into MLS is made available to consumers throughout the Web, aren’t we making sure we’re using accurate data? Complete and accurate data in the MLS means that our listings are going to be “hits” with more buyers and agents than if we just enter the bare minimum. Having a listing without room dimensions might just push the perfect buyer on to another property, just as failing to include descriptive text might eliminate those agents and their buyers using search terms to find your listing. Sure, some of the fields can be tedious and redundant, but the more information we can provide on our seller clients’ listings, the more likely that buyer will see it. Michael Wurzer, president of FBS Data Systems, has written extensively on his blog about it and it’ll be interesting to see if he addresses it further at February’s Legislative & Education Conference. Don’t forget you can register online and save money, by the way! MLS accuracy has been covered for years, in every market, and it’s something we all still struggle with.

The MLS is a tool for agents and consumers alike, and just as with any tool it needs maintenance and care. We all get busy and distracted, but don’t overlook taking the time to make sure your listings are complete and thorough. We’ll ALL benefit if we each take the time to make sure our tools are sharp and ready for action.