There is some confusion with respect to the term “MLS”; MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service and it is a cooperative system used ONLY by Realtor Members of Canada’s Real Estate Boards. This system allows Realtors to work together to get homes sold more efficiently by allowing any Brokerage to “cooperate” on the sale of any home in the system.
Until recently, the website MLS.ca was used to show listings by Realtors to the public. So when the public referred to the MLS they usually meant the website, which is different. To help avoid the confusion the public website was renamed Realtor.ca; and, if you go to mls.ca it automatically gets redirected to Realtor.ca.
Realtor.ca is a website owned and operated by the Canadian Real Estate Association. The website displays a simplified version of most listings uploaded to the MLS system that are currently for sale. It is not updated immediately and it does not provide all the information to the public that Realtors need and have access to.
The MLS (the Realtor’s system) has detailed information and numerous search tools designed to match people with the properties that meet their criteria. It also has access to historical information (what homes sold for in the past) and current information on transactions not yet completed (like what a home has sold for even though it hasn’t closed yet). The MLS is accessible to any Realtor member who has agreed to the rules (and paid their dues) of the Real Estate Board that they are a part of.
For example, the Realtor must agree to represent the clients’ interests and share payment with a cooperating Realtor member. To give a practical example, if I put your home on the MLS system today in the morning; that information would become available to other Realtors usually within 10 minutes of my uploading it. The home could sell with the help of a cooperating broker (think buyer’s agent) that same day. Typically between 24-48 hours later, an abbreviated version of my listing would be uploaded automatically to Realtor.ca for the public to see. In a hot market, as you can see, it can be advantageous to be working with a Realtor instead of waiting for the listing to appear on Realtor.ca as you can get to properties faster. Also, for the protection of the Seller, Realtor.ca does not show certain information to the public which is considered private.
One last point; when Realtors email links to properties, it is from the MLS system and not Realtor.ca even though the information can look similar. That is why a link can sometimes show more current information than what is displayed on the Realtor.ca website.