New MLS – what does it mean to buyers and sellers?

We have a new MLS – Multiple Listing Service – in the Maryland-DC-Virginia area. Actually, it is a huge database, covering Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C, and West Virginia. Most agents aren’t licensed to sell real estate in all those areas, so this doesn’t mean we can automatically practice our business everywhere.

However, there are some excellent new features that should make buyers and sellers happy, not to mention their agents! First benefit for me is that we can add more than 30 photos – that was our old limit. Another excellent feature is the ability to write descriptions in plain English – before we had a 400 character limit, which included punctuation and spaces, to describe a property. That lead to horrible descriptions like “3br 2ba, sgd 2 deck frm dr.” Now we are free to write “3 bedrooms and 2 full baths, plus sliding glass doors to the deck from the dining room.” We have 4,000 characters available to us! I’m in sheer heaven!

There are still some glitches, as they try to combine all these different MLS’s. I can’t search – yet – for all the homes in a specific municipality, like Cheverly. I’ve already requested the field be added, since it is available to us in the tax records. Should be an easy fix.

The biggest change – and it will affect everyone – is how we define the number of days a home is on the market. In the past, as soon as a contract was accepted, the MLS stopped counting the number of days the property was available, even when there were contingencies to be met. It wasn’t unusual to see a house that was only on the market for 2 or 3 days. Now we have a new category – ACTIVE UNDER CONTRACT – and the count doesn’t stop. This means that buyers can still make appointments to see a house that is in this status, and on all those ancillary sites like Zillow and, they will still show as Active.

As a result, it will look like it is taking houses longer to sell. That’s not necessarily the case, but after a while, we won’t notice the change.

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