How To Get MLS Access [Multiple Ways]

Published on October 19, 2023

How To Get MLS Access

How To Get MLS Access

Access to Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data is often seen as a privilege exclusive to licensed real estate agents and brokers. However, the digital age has finally opened up avenues for a broader range of individuals and businesses to tap into this platform. 

Some of the ways to get MLS access include being a realtor, working with a real estate agent, petitioning the MLS directly if you're a seasoned investor, checking out personal realtor websites, using data companies, using a public MLS database, and using a real estate API.

With the increasing interest in real estate investment and market analysis, understanding these various methods to access MLS data has become crucial for many. Here, we'll cover these strategies to help you learn how to get leads using this exclusive platform!

What is the MLS Database?

What is the MLS Database?

The MLS (Multiple Listing Service) database is a digital platform central to the real estate industry in North America. It is essential in the home buying and selling process, providing an extensive repository of detailed property listings.

To be specific, the MLS is a collaborative system used by real estate professionals to pool together their property listings. This collaboration allows for broader exposure of each listed property to potential buyers, making it easier for agents and brokers to sell homes. This also means, the agents have ways to access different real estate classes.

For houses for sale to be included in the MLS, it is typically mandated that a licensed real estate agent or broker list it. Once on the platform, the details of the property, including its price, dimensions, features, and photographs, become accessible to other professionals within the network. This is when the buying or selling process begins.

In addition to facilitating the buying and selling of properties in this up-to-date resource, the MLS database offers comprehensive information they need on market trends, sales histories, and home values.

This rich data source enables real estate professionals to carry out comparative market analyses, which are essential in determining the appropriate listing or buying price for a property.

Furthermore, the MLS is structured with strict rules and guidelines. These rules ensure ethical practices, protect the interests of both buyers and sellers, and maintain the integrity of the data. 

Why is the MLS Private?

As mentioned above, the MLS was conceived as a collaboration among real estate professionals, and this collaborative nature meant that trust and shared professional standards were paramount. Before, there are not many ways to find properties, so they needed to access the MLS database all the time.

However, over time, this collaboration evolved into a more formalized system with established rules and ethical guidelines, which made keeping the database private essential.

Another key reason for the MLS's private nature is the accuracy and reliability of the data it holds. With restricted access, the MLS can better guarantee the validity of its listings. Only licensed real estate professionals, who have a stake in maintaining the system’s integrity, can input or modify the data. 

This ensures that the property details, prices, and statuses presented are as accurate as possible. Given that both buyers and sellers make critical decisions based on this data, its accuracy cannot be compromised.

Privacy also helps in maintaining the professional value that real estate agents bring to the table. Their in-depth knowledge of the market, paired with exclusive access to detailed property data, positions them as invaluable experts in property transactions. 

If the MLS were open to the public, it could potentially undermine the role of real estate professionals, diluting the quality of service and expertise they offer.

Finally, privacy safeguards the personal and sensitive details of property owners. While the MLS lists property features and specifics, it also contains sensitive data that shouldn't be freely accessible to the general public. 

Keeping the MLS private ensures that only vetted, ethical professionals can access this information, thereby upholding the security and privacy of homeowners.

How to Get MLS Access?

How to Get MLS Access?

Unlike before, where realtors were the only ones allowed to access MLS data and a real estate license is required, you can now use different strategies to access property listings pulled from the MLS. Below are the different ways to gain MLS access that successful real estate professionals are leveraging.

Become a Licensed Real Estate Professional

Becoming a Realtor is one of the most straightforward ways to get MLS access. Realtors are licensed real estate professionals who have chosen to become members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). 

The term "Realtor" is a trademarked title, which means not all real estate agents are Realtors, but all Realtors are real estate agents. One of the main advantages of being a Realtor is the full access to the MLS in the area they serve. 

Once you've finished the pre-licensing coursework, passed the state's real estate exam, and received your real estate license, you can join the NAR and subsequently gain access to the MLS in your area and check real estate listings. 

Being a licensed agent not only gives you free access to view property listings but also lists properties on the platform when your clients buy and sell, making the process of home-buying or selling significantly more efficient.

Work with a Real Estate Agent

If you're not interested in becoming a Realtor or real estate professional yourself but still want access to MLS data, you can achieve this by working closely with a licensed real estate agent. This way you get MLS access without a license and you can still find a real estate deal that is profitable.

While you won't have direct access to the database, the agent can provide you with property listings, comparative market analyses, and other vital information about the property on the MLS. This relationship is beneficial, especially for potential homebuyers or sellers, as they can leverage the agent's expertise, tools, and resources. 

The agent can set up automated alerts based on your criteria, ensuring you're promptly informed about potential properties or market shifts that meet your needs. Through a collaborative partnership with an agent, you indirectly tap into the depth and breadth of MLS data without needing a direct login.

Petition the MLS Directly if You are a Seasoned Investor

For seasoned real estate investors who regularly engage in property transactions but work without a real estate license or without a realtor partner, some MLSs offer the possibility to petition for direct access. Given the investor's experience and frequent dealings in the market, MLS boards might consider granting them limited access to find properties for sale. 

The rationale is that these individuals or entities, due to the volume and frequency of their transactions, can benefit from MLS data, making their operations smoother and more efficient. However, getting access this way can be challenging and is not guaranteed. 

It often requires demonstrating a substantial transaction history, presenting a compelling case, and possibly paying higher fees than typical Realtors. 

Check Out Personal Realtor Websites

Many Realtors and brokerages maintain personal or business websites equipped with IDX (Internet Data Exchange) integration. This allows a portion of MLS data to be displayed publicly so get access to MLS listing without a license.

While not as comprehensive as direct MLS access, these websites often offer advanced search functionalities, property details, photographs, and sometimes even virtual tours. 

For individuals casually browsing the market or conducting preliminary research, these sites can be a valuable resource. They provide a snapshot of available listings and market trends in a user-friendly format. 

Moreover, because these websites are tied to a particular agent or brokerage, they often offer additional insights, recommendations, or featured listings that might not be as prominently displayed on the main MLS.

Check Out Real Estate Websites

Several data companies, like Zillow or Redfin, specialize in real estate analytics and aggregate data from multiple sources, including MLSs so you can use them for property search for a flat fee. This is a great option if you want to use the MLS without the help of real estate agents.

While they might not offer real-time access to new listings like the MLS access allows, they provide a broader view of market trends, historical data, and property analytics to their paying members so they get better real estate deals.

These platforms often come with their own set of tools, such as mortgage calculators, neighborhood insights, and price estimations, which can be incredibly valuable for potential buyers, sellers, or investors.


PropStream is used to analyze nationwide MLS data and is considered a trusted source for real estate data that helps in locating, marketing, and evaluating properties across various specialties in the real estate industry. 

Specifically, PropStream has data related to MLS sales prices, the month and year of sales, and failed listings. 


Zillow does not directly provide access to MLS (Multiple Listing Service) data in the traditional sense used by real estate professionals. Instead, Zillow obtains property listings from various sources, which can include MLS feeds. 

While Zillow may receive some of its listings from MLS feeds, not all listings on Zillow are from the MLS. Some listings on Zillow might be categorized as "Agent listings," and others might be categorized differently. 

It's also noted that platforms like Zillow can auto-populate from MLS feeds, but this isn't always the case as there are options for agents to opt out of these feeds.


Redfin is a brokerage, which means it has direct access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Due to this access, Redfin's website and mobile apps are powered by the MLS, enabling users to access the same information about properties that real estate agents have. 

Additionally, Redfin's dedication to data quality is evident as they receive 70% of new US MLS listings. They also offer downloadable housing market data for various uses, including home evaluations and journalistic purposes. is a prominent online real estate platform where users can search for MLS homes for sale, new construction homes, apartments, and houses for rent. The website also provides insights into property values and offers tools for potential homebuyers, such as mortgage shopping. aims to make the process of buying, selling, renting, and living in homes easier and more enjoyable for everyone. It is recognized for its accuracy among real estate websites.

Coldwell Banker Realty

Home listings on Coldwell Banker Realty are delivered directly from the MLS, which is considered the most accurate data source available. 

Moreover, Coldwell Banker Realty goes beyond providing basic property information by offering key details on properties, such as indicating if a property is a short sale or an REO property. 

Use a Public MLS Database

There are public MLS databases available that offer a limited view of the comprehensive data held in the main MLS systems that you can use for real estate investing. 

These public sources provide the general public with a platform to view property listings, albeit without some of the in-depth details or tools available to licensed professionals because it is still a private database.

While these platforms won't replace the need for a Realtor in the transaction process, they serve as a valuable tool for those who want to get a sense of the market, compare properties, and gain a basic understanding of pricing in specific regions. It is also possible that these databases have information on FSBO or for sale by owner properties.

Use a real estate API

Real estate APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are technological bridges that allow for the integration of MLS data into other software platforms. This means that if you're developing a real estate app, website, or platform, you can use an API to pull in live, updated data directly from the MLS. 

This is beneficial for tech companies, startups, or individual developers who want to offer users the ability to search or analyze property listings. 

It's worth noting that using a real estate API requires an agreement or licensing arrangement with the specific MLS and often comes with associated costs. It also requires technical knowledge and expertise to integrate and manage correctly. Still, for those looking to create a digital tool or platform in the real estate space, APIs provide a robust and reliable data source.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is There an API to Access MLS Data?

Yes, there are APIs available that provide access to MLS data. An API, or Application Programming Interface, serves as a bridge that allows different software applications to communicate and share data. 

In real estate, several MLSs offer APIs to authorized users, typically brokers or real estate tech companies, enabling them to integrate MLS data into their platforms or applications. 

However, accessing an MLS API isn’t as simple as just signing up. It usually requires an agreement or licensing arrangement with the specific MLS you're interested in, and there might be costs associated as mentioned a while back. 

Can You Access the MLS on Your Phone?

Absolutely! As technology has evolved, so too has the accessibility of the MLS. Many MLS platforms now offer mobile versions or dedicated apps tailored for smartphones and tablets. 

These mobile solutions are designed to provide real estate professionals with on-the-go access to property listings, enabling them to serve their clients more efficiently, even when they're away from their desktop computers.

How Do I Get Access to the MLS in California?

Gaining access to the MLS database in California typically requires you to be a licensed real estate agent or real estate broker and become a member of a local REALTOR® association that is affiliated with an MLS. The first step is to complete the required real estate courses and pass the state licensing exam. Once you have your real estate license, you'll need to join a brokerage, as this often acts as a gateway to MLS membership.

After you're associated with a brokerage, you can then apply for membership in your local REALTOR® association. 

Can I Link the MLS To My Website?

Yes, you can link the MLS to your website, and this is a common practice among real estate professionals seeking to offer their clients direct access to property listings. 

The most common way to integrate MLS data into a personal or brokerage website is through an IDX (Internet Data Exchange) feed. IDX allows real estate professionals to display a subset of MLS listings on their sites, making it easier for clients to search for properties.

Setting up an IDX feed often requires entering into an agreement with your local MLS. They may provide you with the necessary tools or may require you to work with approved third-party IDX providers. 

Can You Download MLS Data?

In general, MLS systems allow authorized users to export certain data, depending on the rules and guidelines set by the specific MLS. This capability is useful for an agents and real estate broker who wants to analyze the data offline, create reports, or use the data in marketing materials. 

However, there are often restrictions on the amount and type of data you can download to protect both the integrity of the MLS and the privacy of homeowners.

Final Thoughts: How To Gain MLS Access With or Without a License [Multiple Ways]

Gaining access to MLS data doesn't have to be a challenge reserved solely for licensed professionals. Thanks to the strategies we’ve listed above, this once-guarded treasure trove of property information is more accessible to a broader audience. 

Being informed about these ways to obtain MLS data can truly offer significant advantages, whether you're a budding real estate enthusiast or an established professional in the field.

On another note, if you are a real estate investor looking to grow your business without having to compete for leads on MLS listings, check us out at Property Leads. The highly motivated leads we offer are not in the real estate market, so you are guaranteed a higher success rate.

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