UPDATE… We published an updated version of this article. You can read it here
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…
“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)
Thanks to Kelly for spelling it all out so well! And of course I welcome anyone else’s thoughts as well…please comment below!