THE PROS and CONS of the MLS (MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE).
The MLS which requires no introduction in the United States and Canada, is increasingly gaining traction among professionals but still has its share of detractors in Panama where it is sometimes confused with a vanishing local custom called “la exclusiva” whereby a so-called “agent” (frequently operating illegally, without a license) limits the availability of a property to “direct customers only”, adding the offensive warning “no intermediaries”. Needless to say, that self-serving scheme does not benefit the owners!
WHAT IS THE MLS?
The MLS consists of a private database promoting extensive collaboration between real estate professionals under the supervision of a Board of Realtors. It is a tool allowing buyers’ representatives to cooperate freely and safely with sellers’ representatives. It offers buyers access to a reliable pool of properties and provides sellers with the desired optimum exposure. In contrast with many popular websites that advertise real estate along with used cars and miscellaneous items, MLS listings are scrupulously monitored, ensuring efficient transactions. In Panama, the MLS is operated by the Realtor’s Association ACOBIR since 2012.
FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE SELLER:
Upon signing an MLS listing agreement, the owner commits to be represented for a specified amount of time by a single agent or company which assumes all marketing responsibilities. Some owners – used to deal freely with any self-styled “agent” claiming to have access to “buyers” – may perceive such commitment as a drawback. They gain however the assistance of a motivated professional and the increased exposure provided by a cutting-edge technology based on reciprocity. MLS members are encouraged to display all MLS listings on their respective websites where they are shared simultaneously by dozens of top real estate companies treating them as their own, which makes them instantly available to an exponential number of prospects.
FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE BUYER’S AGENT:
A small number of agents appear unconvinced about the merits of the MLS. Some are reluctant to show a MLS property to one of their hypothetical buyers, since they would have to split “their” full commission with the listing agent. On the opposite side of the spectrum, reliable professionals have a duty of loyalty towards their customers and value the mutually beneficial principle of collaboration between brokers.
FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE LISTING AGENT:
Signing an MLS agreement leads to higher expectations and therefore involves a stronger commitment, from quality photography to sustained marketing efforts and efficient communication. Moreover, MLS agents are fully motivated, knowing that their efforts will eventually be rewarded – even in the case the seller is able to refer the buyer on his own (in such event, he would pay only half of the commission).
FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE GENERAL PUBLIC:
Contrary to those popular websites where owners are free to announce inflated prices frequently based on sentimental factors “to see what happens”, the pricing of MLS listings is determined by the interaction between a motivated seller and a trained professional, providing a realistic snapshot of the market.