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  • Writer's pictureAttorney Jason A Greller

Understanding the Multiple Listing Service, Agent Roles, and Commissions

The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a critical tool in the real estate industry that streamlines the process of buying and selling properties. This guide will discuss what the MLS is, the roles of the listing agent and selling agent, how commissions work, and the concept of the offer of compensation.

  1. What is the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)? The MLS is a database of property listings managed by local real estate associations. It allows real estate agents to share information about properties for sale with other agents, increasing exposure and facilitating cooperation between agents. The MLS typically includes property details, photos, and information about open houses and showings. Only licensed real estate agents who are members of the local MLS can access and post listings.

  2. The Role of the Listing Agent The listing agent, also known as the seller's agent, represents the property seller in the transaction. Their responsibilities include:

a. Evaluating the property: Determining the market value based on factors such as location, condition, and comparable properties. b. Marketing the property: Creating a marketing strategy to attract potential buyers, including listing the property on the MLS, creating promotional materials, and hosting open houses. c. Negotiating offers: Reviewing offers from potential buyers, advising the seller on the best course of action, and negotiating with buyers or their agents to reach an agreement. d. Closing the deal: Managing the closing process, including coordinating with the buyer's agent, lender, and title company to ensure a smooth transaction.

  1. The Role of the Selling Agent The selling agent, also known as the buyer's agent, represents the property buyer in the transaction. Their responsibilities include:

a. Identifying suitable properties: Searching the MLS and other sources to find properties that meet the buyer's requirements. b. Scheduling showings: Coordinating with the listing agent to arrange property visits for the buyer. c. Advising the buyer: Providing guidance on property value, potential issues, and the negotiation process. d. Preparing and presenting offers: Drafting and submitting offers on behalf of the buyer, negotiating with the listing agent, and managing the closing process.

  1. Commissions and the Offer of Compensation Real estate agents typically earn their income through commissions, which are a percentage of the property's sale price. The commission is usually paid by the seller and split between the listing agent and the selling agent. The offer of compensation is the portion of the commission that the listing agent agrees to share with the selling agent for bringing a buyer to the transaction.

a. Commission rates: Commissions are negotiable and can vary depending on factors such as market conditions, agent experience, and the level of service provided. A common commission rate is 5-6% of the sale price, although this can vary. b. Splitting commissions: The commission is typically split between the listing agent and the selling agent. The exact split can vary, but a common arrangement is a 50-50 split or a 60-40 split in favor of the listing agent.



Understanding the MLS and the roles of listing and selling agents is essential for both property buyers and sellers. Commissions and the offer of compensation are critical components of the transaction, as they produce significant transaction costs for the parties.

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