the history of MLS associations
Issue 151 - September 15th, 2023
In the residential real estate industry, MLS Associations are a vital part of the ecosystem, but where on earth did these come from and how did they get established?
I am always interested in learning the backstory and history of practices and processes that led to their present day version, and I did some research this past week on this topic.
In the early days of MLS associations, real estate agents and brokers relied on printed catalogs, pamphlets, and physical meetings to share information about property listings. They also used methods such as telephone calls, personal relationships, newspaper ads, and office bulletin boards to stay informed about available properties. The earliest of “MLS Associations” were simply scheduled meetings of “agents” to meet up and share property information. As the industry evolved, the methods for “property information sharing” became more sophisticated, but the premise of these associations is still very similar today.
Late 1800s: The concept of multiple listing services begins to emerge in the United States as real estate agents and brokers seek a more organized way to share property information.
Early 1900s: The first formal MLS associations are established in major cities like Chicago and New York City. These early MLS systems primarily involve printed catalogs of property listings.
1920s-1930s: MLS associations start to spread to other parts of the country, leading to a more standardized approach to property listing and sharing.
1950s-1960s: MLS associations begin using technology like microfilm and later computer systems to streamline the listing process and make information more accessible to members.
1970s: MLS associations become more prevalent and widespread as the real estate industry grows. These associations typically operate on a local or regional level, serving specific geographic areas.
1980s-1990s: The advent of the internet leads to significant advancements in MLS technology. Online databases and digital listings become more common, making it easier for real estate professionals to access and share property information.
2000s: MLS associations continue to evolve with the growth of the internet and digital technologies. Integration with real estate websites and third-party platforms becomes more common.
2010s: MLS associations become increasingly interconnected, allowing for broader access to property listings across regions and states. Consolidation and mergers among some associations lead to larger, more comprehensive MLS networks.
Present-Day: MLS associations remain a fundamental part of the real estate industry in America, providing a centralized platform for real estate professionals to list, search for, and share property information. They continue to adapt to emerging technologies and market demands.
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