What is an MLS?

The traditional Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a business network whereby real estate brokers make blanket offers of compensation to other brokers. Both brokers and licensees are often referred to as MLS Users and subscribers; however, the broker is responsible for the activities of all licensees within the firm and is the one individual capable of offering cooperation and compensation to other brokers.
Multiple Listing Services have been in existence for well over forty years. Originally, they consisted of card catalogs distributed weekly to real estate offices in a given market area. In the early 1970’s, photographs of particular properties were taken and attached to the card catalog system. Eventually, vendors entered the MLS market proposing to place property listings into bound books. For the next ten to fifteen years MLS listings were typically distributed through large bound catalogs, called MLS books.
With the advent of computers in the mid 1970’s, these publishing companies developed remote terminal accesses into their book publishing databases. This innovation allowed electronic access to the same information that was at that time distributed only in book form.
By the early 1980’s, computers began to replace traditional MLS books. With the advent of the personal computer, DOS and Windows-based programs were developed to search and add listings along with limited capability to manipulate data. MLS software development in the late ‘80s focused on enhancing the PC’s ability to manipulate data and photos. With the growth of the Internet, focus shifted to server-side or browser-based software programs like the one currently developed and implemented in Middle Tennessee.