Saturday, October 25th, 2014

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How to Get MLS Access Without a License

unlicensed guySo here’s one undeniable fact for anyone in the real estate biz: Access to the Realtor’s MLS = Power.

MLS of course stands for “Multiple Listing Service”, as in the big, honkin’ database of real estate information Realtors have access to.

And in case you’re wondering, no, I’m not talking about the real estate listings anyone can view at Realtor.com or through the “MLS Search” on most Real Estate Companies’ websites.  Sure, those search portals have the MLS as their source of data – but it’s not THE MLS — the data isn’t nearly as robust or in-depth.

The fact of the matter is, when it comes to doing top-shelf market and/or property research – whether you’re analyzing values, looking for “bleeding edge” listings, reviewing “sold comps” in detail, looking up pendings, etc. etc…  nothing beats the Realtor’s MLS.  The level of real estate data that can be searched, filtered and manipulated is simply unparalleled…

…Which is exactly why access to it is such a sought after thing.  Savvy investors understand this, and it’s a big reason why so many investors get licensed and join the local Realtor Board themselves.  Because…

You Can’t Get MLS Access Without Being a Realtor…Right????

Hmmmmm…let’s think on this one for a moment.  Well that’s the word on the street, isn’t it?  That only Realtors – that is, licensed real estate agents who are also active, dues paying members of the local Board of Realtors – can get access.

But would it surprise you to know that it’s actually fairly common for non-licensed investors to find ways to gain direct access to the MLS?  Sure, it can take a little creativity and some gumption, but we have our ways.

To this point, here’s an article by fellow blogger and KISS Flipper Kelly, originally published on her blog Kelly Flippin Cali.  I thought it was so good, I asked her if I could reprint it here for you guys.  Enjoy…

kelly flippin cali!“How to Get MLS Access Without a License”

So, excuse the non-perfect punctuation. Sometimes I just get typing and forget things like punctuation and capitalization. Just don’t red pen me.  I am not like JP, I don’t write perfect copy. :)

I think first off, you have to have confidence, assertiveness and sincerity at the same time because confidence and assertiveness can sometimes look a lot like arrogance. Without the confidence you look wishy washy and needy. You have to know up front what you are offering the Agent in return for this precious MLS access. I like having my own unlimited access and paying for it, than using someone else’s with limited access.

It is so simple! I had 2 different approaches. It takes some work, but you can do it! If I can do it, you can do it!

The Craigslist Approach:

The Craigslist ad was really Craig Fuhr’s idea that I gleaned off of the last call with JP from REItips.com. He was targeting Indiana fresh.

My ads, 2 of them, placed in Real Estate and Real Estate Services…

$1 RE Agent Wanted
California Cash investor working in ‘insert city here’ with single family homes seeks investor friendly agent to work with. Please call me now.
Call XXX XXX XXXX

My Other Approach:

First, you call Realtors from Keller Williams (because they are the most investor friendly.) Explain your strategy and tell them you value their time and would like to do your own homework upfront which takes about 40 to 80 hours. (The majority of my responses were something like, “I don’t have a problem doing the homework and sending it to you.”)

So then ask them for a list of all of the ‘solds’ in the last 60 days for the county, or the biggest area of the town or city of research. From there identify the hotbeds or areas of the most activity.

Meanwhile, on your own, without telling the Agent, contact the Association of Realtors or whoever controls the MLS…

  • Ask to speak to the commercial department or the administrator for the MLS.   Tell them that you have been working with (insert agent’s name here) and you both talked about obtaining MLS access as an unlicensed assistant.
  • Ask for an email of the form for him to sign to begin or if it is located online.
  • Ask what the log-on requirements are. Is it just username and password or little key fob deal that changes numbers every 60 seconds like California?
  • Ask what the fees are and how they are billed, i.e., quarterly, yearly, through the broker or can they be made online through the MLS website via your credit card.
  • Ask them to email you the rules as well.
  • If you have the keyfob thing, you need to go into the MLS office and show your ID and they hand you and only you the keyfob.
  • Ask who to contact when returning the information, if it is email then ask them to include phone and fax.  Now you have the MLS contact person information.

After you do your homework using the list of solds, speak to the agent about your findings. (I have identified _____ zipcode as an area I would like to pursue, about what price are your clean REOs in that area?) Then state that there is another at least 60 hours of similar research but you need to use the map function and other things that would just kill trees if they printed it out for you and YOU would rather spend the time on the research and have them spend the time on submitting offers and listing your properties.

Then explain that you have spoken to “insert MLS administrator here” and you have the form for your own unlicensed assistant access and it would save you both so much time once you get that started.

BE ASSERTIVE. Don’t say, “if I had my own access” say, “once I get this access.”. Tell them, “I need your signature and I am good to go. It can be revoked at any time, so if for any reason you are not comfortable with this in the future, you can cancel it.”  There will be no charge to the Agent or Broker. The Broker might have to sign on the form also.

Once you have your access, go buy either a $20.00 Jamba Juice gift card or a Starbucks gift card and a Silver sharpie pen. Write on the gift card with the silver sharpie pen, Thanks SO much ‘agent’s name’ !! then your name, so the 3 or 4 times they use it, they see your name and smile. Go to their office and have receptionist place in their in box or mail it to the agent.

I think for me, before I had a solid strategy, it was very difficult to build rapport. Now after KISS Flipping and speaking with Bob Norton face to face, I totally know my strategies inside and out and have total confidence!! Without a doubt!! In the course are the steps to take to find private money AND instantly find buyers. I’m not an affiliate, I should be, but if you could swing it, you should, it’s the best money I have ever spent!

GO GET ‘EM!!  Let me know how it turns out!

I’m on my way to get an alignment before my trip next week and to sling mud on 4 more old listings.

Chyzle! (translation= see ya)

Kelly

Thanks to Kelly for spelling it all out so well!  And of course I welcome anyone else’s thoughts as well…please comment below!

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About 

JP Moses is a roughly-hewn man-child who first got into REI after reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad back in Y2K and went full time in 2002. He's tinkered in everything from landlording to short sales to rehabs to Realtoring to REOs to notes to owner financing, blah, blah, blah...Till he finally stuck his flag deep into wholesaling and has since flipped somewhere north of a couple hundred deals.

JP's not a “guru” but also doesn't think it's a bad word. Among his core values are authenticity, creativity, big honkin' value, general fun-ness and being unshaven. He's super proud to be chief blogger guy at REItips.com and host of the free REIology podcast. He also thoroughly enjoys sharing his 53 best real estate investing forms with anyone who wants them. You should totally check that out. :-)

  • Mark

    Of course remove the _ when you email :)

  • Sean

    Real estate advisor, Realtor…same thing….The way of the Realtor will always be around… there will always be someone wanting to sell their home, people that have to sell , first time buyers, short sales, and banks that use agents to list homes and investors that understand the value of a good agent. All agents are not bad…I negotiate the absolute best price for my buyer even if it will drastically cut my commission..It’s my job and I take pride in it and I’m sure there are other agents like me. . A useful agent can find/ get deals, do the due diligence, pull comps, negotiate, make sure you’re protected, and market the property for you for sale or rent. Why shouldn’t they deserve a commission? If you can do ALL of that yourself then you don’t need an agent, but sometimes its easier for someone else to do the work while you either find more deals on your own, enjoy the money that you’ve made or spend time with your family.. Pay people for their work…You assume ALL THE RISK because thats what INVESTORS do…but you wouldn’t do it if there wasn’t a chance of a BIG REWARD….I bet there is not as much of an issue with your stock broker or the guy showing you a few features on a car you want to buy.

  • Sean

    Are you serious?…One Realtor, overlooked a couple properties and you don’t trust all Realtors? What was the Realtors intentions? Was he going to buy it for himself? Maybe he just didn’t see them…people make mistakes..I’m sure you’ve made a few.

  • Brad

    The search technology most MLSs use is archaic compared with, say, what Zillow or Trulia has built.

  • http://REItips.com/ jp moses

    Yes, but the search PARAMETERS the MLS gives you beat the pants of Trulia and Zillow.

  • mister

    Explain what “strategy”, also by “tell them you would like to do your own homework upfront”. Does that mean that your are asking to go into the MLS and then getting the information?

  • Housen Monique

    .
    .

  • John

    yes….agree friend. Unfortuantely there are unethical folks in every and all business practices. Challenge is releasing past offenses, so to not handicap your next encounter…

  • Ray Cone

    This is an old thread, but it is personally relevant. Here’s my take on realtors and the MLS. Not too long ago, the stock market had brokers that were paid 8% commissions…8 percent! Discount brokers came in and changed all of that via market forces…i.e. competition and client preference. If the real estate industry would be less concerned about preserving a model which has not kept up with the aptitude of the average real estate buyer, then they would make the MLS available to everyone for a nominal subscription fee and the agents would have to compete with one another on fee structure and services provided. Forcing everyone to give up 6% of their equity just because they want to sell is outright piracy! If I contracted the services of an agent that I felt was worth 6%, that would be a different story…but alas there is no competition in the current model.

    Here’s the historical tidbit that blows my mind…not too long ago, Google maps provided MLS-like data. At some point, the folks behind the MLS sued them…and won! I don’t recall what their claim was or how it was spun, but the fact that an internet giant like Google was forced to pull real estate data off their online service because it likely competed with the MLS…well, that should give everyone pause. I thought monopolies were illegal, but apparently the MLS database is somehow a very successful sacred cow.

    Real estate agents while subject to the laws of agency are also prudent human beings that are looking out for their own best interests. Who isn’t? I don’t think the focus should be on whether an agent wants to collect a commission, I think the right question to ask is are their commissions subject to real competition? I also think the MLS database not being available to all participants in the industry paired with a hardwired commission reeks of monopoly. Realtors are not the problem…the people making money off of them and perpetuating the non-competitive model for commissions are whom we should be targeting our angst against.

  • Ray Cone

    FWIW…my stock brokerage firm charges between $7 & $9 per transaction and offers tons of free research options. Like I said above, they used to charge 8%…what a beneficial change it would be for the populace if the real estate industry got their fees structure re-defined so that fees were based on services provided versus a percentage of the asset value. I think realtors should be paid for what they do, I just think that needs to be better defined and not scaled as a function of the asset valuation they’re working with.

  • Ray Cone

    I think the point was that the “service” the realtor provided was marginal at best. He, like many of us, did his own research and found what he was seeking…but must still pay for a “service” that didn’t really provide any.

  • Ray Cone

    Do you necessarily need a realtor? If you could view all metadata relative to a query you defined, then selected a property and contacted the seller directly…couldn’t you negotiate an agreed upon price and then complete your transaction at a title company (which is also an aspect of the industry which needs an overhaul)? For those that do not really know what they want, the conventional realtor model makes sense. For people that are capable of clearly defining what it is they want and are able to assess, negotiate and facilitate the closing/title work on their own I firmly believe there is a need for another option.

  • Ray Cone

    I have done the same…in a slow market, a realtor can add value through promotional efforts. In a hot market where listings post and properties sell within a two week or less time frame, people should really consider trying to sell their real estate themselves. I’ve done this twice and it was fairly painless both times.

  • http://www.flatmlslsiting.com Flat Mls

    I have seen a trend of real estate brokerages not syndicating listing data. Some companies are hoarding pocket listing hoping to sell their own listings with-in their local offices.

  • fedup

    One agent told me that the first thing he look at on the listing is the agent commission. Of course it is almost always 3%, right? Well, he said if it is EVER less than 3% he immediately ignores the property.

    So, just think about that…you go to your agent and give her everything you want. She searches and 3 houses come up. But let’s say that the first one is only paying 2.5% to the agent. Even though this could be your perfect ideal dream house, she will never even tell you about it, but will only give you the other two instead. So, she puts her own desires for $ above those desires of her customer. That is the most perfect description of “unethical” I can imagine and if that is the “high code” you live by, then someone needs to rewrite your code. That is shameful!

    Can’t wait til the MLS is public. Gosh I hate middle people who think he they have a right to bully/meddle in my personal transactions, only because they are granted monopoly by lobbyists. If I want a realtor, I will ask for one. If I don’t, THEN let me buy and stay the hell out of my transaction!

  • Guest

    I just discovered that my agent played me multiple times on “investors – wholesalers”. They knew full well that these people would NOT fulfill the contract if they could not find someone to flip it to. That is ethically wrong but nothing you can do about it besides. Get your own license which is easy!!!!! Quit bitchin’ and get your license. Still doesn’t mean you cannot sell your own property if I recall. (need to confirm that)