The role of a Multiple Listing Service

More than a century ago, real estate brokers created the concept of a Multiple Listing Service to share listings with other brokers and help seller clients find property buyers. It was felt then, and still is today, that as each property is unique, a centralized system was more efficient and effective to find buyers.

Lance Evans

The purpose of the service is to allow brokers to share information on properties they have listed and invite other brokers to cooperate in the sale in exchange for compensation if they produce a buyer. Outside the MLS, there is no legal requirement for a broker to compensate another broker, however, they must cooperate. In New York, only brokers can receive compensation directly in a transaction. Agents are compensated by the broker who holds their license.

The service is a unique construct in that competitors willingly share their listings and allow their competitors to cooperate to bring about a successful transaction. This benefits sellers and buyers. Instead of one company and a handful of agents working to sell a property, many companies and agents are involved. Similarly, buyers can pick one agent who can show them everything for sale as opposed to having to go from agency to agency.

A Multiple Listing Service is a private database created, maintained and paid for by real estate professionals. Some of its data is accessible only to members. In addition to details about a property, a MLS listing may include other information such as exact location, available times for showings, the amount of compensation offered to the agent with a successful buyer and owner information that, if widely known, could compromise a seller’s safety and privacy.

Our area is home to two of roughly 900 Multiple Listing Services that operate in the country. Listings from the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors are found on The St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors posts listings to Both of these sites operate a public side where limited information on the listings can be found. There also is a member side that includes in-depth information and tools that a Realtor uses to market the property, determine a fair value, run client and customer searches and communicate certain information with other members. The service is governed by a set of rules that help regulate its content.

In its 2011 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the National Association of Realtors noted that 59 percent of buyers who used the Internet as part of their search used an MLS website. In fact, the response “MLS website” was the No. 1 answer. This held true across all age groups whether the person was a first-time or repeat buyer.

The MLS is an important tool to sell a property. Any Realtor member of the MLS can show and sell any property on the site. This means that the seller will have many “eyes” on their property and buyers can preview properties to find ones that meet their needs.


From Sept. 30 to Oct. 3, the New York State Association of Realtors held its fall business conference at Turning Stone Resort in Verona. A number of Realtors from the area joined about 450 members from across the state.

Several north country Realtors had leadership roles at the conference. Jennifer Stevenson, Blue Heron Realty, Ogdensburg, chaired the Fair Housing and Cultural Diversity Committee and an all-association forum. She was elected the 2013 vice president of the New York State Housing Foundation.

Karen Peebles, Peebles Realty, Adams, was vice chairwoman for the Housing Opportunities Committee and will serve as 2013 chair.

Lisa L’Huillier, Hefferon Real Estate, Watertown, was elected 2013 secretary of the New York State Women’s Council of Realtors.

Others attendees included Gail and Walt Christensen, Christensen RealtyUSA, Jennifer Dindl-Neff, Humes Realty and Appraisal Service, Lin Fields, Professional Institute for Real Estate Training, Elizabeth Miller, Century 21 Gentry Realty, Gwyn Monnat, Hunt Real Estate ERA, Nancy Rome, Rome RSA Realty Enterprises, Korleen Spilman, Century 21 Millennium Realty, and Vicki Staie, Staie on the Seaway Real Estate Services.

Lance M. Evans is the executive officer of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors and the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors. He has lived in the north country since 1985. Contact him at His column appears monthly in NNY Business.