What Exactly is the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System?

May 15, 2021

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When I ask this question to the public or even members, the answers I often get back are things like: 

  • It’s Matrix 
  • It’s mlssask.ca 
  • It’s a property information database 
  • It’s a website address 
  • It’s REALTOR.ca. 

All of these are related and are important tools which have evolved over time and now support the MLS® System but none are the correct answer. The MLS System® started up in parts of Saskatchewan in the 1950s or 1960s.  When you realize this, none of the above answers even existed at that time so how could they be the MLS® System?  Good point. 

I recall some veteran REALTORS® of that earlier timeperiod tell me that when the MLS® System was originally adopted, it was seen primarily as a place where you put your problem listings that would be difficult to sell. How times have changed. 

So, if it’s none of the above what is it?  

The answer is what it has always been and it’s pretty darn unique but tends to get lost in all the technology that surrounds it today. It’s simple and has been at the core of what has made it work so well for members and public for decades. Here it is: 

The MLS® System is a co-operative selling system where members agree to cooperate with others to affect the purchase and sale of real property. 

This manifests itself into the open offer of cooperating commission by a listing brokerage to other participating brokerages once a listing is placed on the system.  

It is so important that CREA has registered the MLS® marks in Canada with this meaning. The marks cannot be used by anyone else other than those who are authorized usersLocal associations have a licensing agreement with CREA to use the marks. Members are authorized users by virtue of membership. 

The MLS® System is based on fundamental principles of cooperation, collaboration, and service to consumers.  Hopefully, these will continue to survive well into the future. 

( Interim C.E.O )