How The MLS Has Changed

I got my California real estate license in 1981. After 36 years in the industry I’ve seen the business change and evolve in many ways.


Our industry is driven by information; the better the information, along with knowing how to use it, the better the results. The most notable change in our industry since I began has been the advent and use of the Internet to share information. The MLS has been around for quite some time, much longer than the Internet. However, before the Internet, information dissemination for brokers and their agents had to be found in paper books, distributed weekly on Fridays to all agents. Properties were shared on a singular platform, and shared amongst all realtors. This sort of property exposure to all is still the same today, however the main difference being the speed at which information is circulated and syndicated isn’t just faster, it’s instantaneous.


When selecting the right real estate broker to sell their property sellers have a simple goal: get the most for their property in the least amount of time. In conjunction with this goal is dependent on the broker’s ability to reach all buyers. From then to now, as long as a broker was a member of the local board and had access to the MLS, this exposure could be and still is accomplished.


As mentioned above, back in 1981 the MLS was a book the size and shape of a phone book circulated on a weekly delivery to agents at their offices. The current inventory of each week would determine how thick (number of pages) that week’s book would be. In those days, agents would have a deadline of 4:00 PM on the prior Tuesday to meet the Friday publish date. Friday mornings were special in the office; all agents would show up early to the office to get the latest book with a bounty of new listings to share with their buyers. Each listing was a square 1/20th of a page sized “ad”. The listing included one photo of the property taken by the staff at the MLS headquarters along with basic property detail data. Needless to say, at that time sellers did not look at the listings, did not ask for “better pictures”, or ask for changes the data. Buyers also did not have access to any data. These MLS books were full of proprietary data, and were not handed out by (ethical) real estate agents. So, instead of calling each real estate office and asking if they had a property for sale matching a buyer’s needs, an agent would just open the book! In days past, buyers were still very dependent on a broker to have access to information, not quite the same scenario today.


Thanks for taking the time to read  how this change has affected the relationship between broker & client.


Chip Brent

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