What is MLS?
MLS, short for Multiple Listing Service, is a tool real estate professionals use for sharing of comprehensive home information among other real estate professionals. It's online software that contains all the specifics about a home, from the address, age, square footage, number of bedrooms, baths, upgrades and schools districts to types of financing the seller will consider, and more. There is generally at least one to a dozen photographs of the home, plus a link to a virtual tour, if one exists.
A public interface for MLS is available at http://www.realtor.ca. Realtor.ca currently has over 200,000 residential listings from the 98,000 realtors working in over 100 real estate boards.
While Realtor.ca is convenient for browsing listings in your area, the information it displays is only a small subset of information available to realtors. This is one of the main advantages of working with a real estate professional. Realtors have access to historical information (like time of on market and price adjustments), the property status and incomplete transactions (i.e., pending offers). As well, it can be as long as 24-48 hours for updates to be posted to Realtor.ca (vs. approx. 10 minutes for the private MLS system Realtors have access to).