What Is The Chicago MLS?
The Multiple Listings Service (MLS) used in Chicago is called the Multiple Listing Service of Northern Illinois (MLSNI). It is a regional database of properties for sale in the City of Chicago and suburbs, plus parts of Wisconsin. The system is generally used by real estate brokerages and agents, who must also be registered members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
The main function of the MLS is to store information about property listings and make it accessible to authorized users. It acts as a searchable database of active and off-market listings that include residential, commercial, vacant lots and other types of properties. Every listing is assigned an MLS number and entered into the system with a description and other pertinent info.
A large percentage of the listings on the Chicago MLS are residential properties. These are mostly qualified as detached, attached, two to four units, mobile homes, rentals, multi-family and land. Attached properties refer to condominiums and townhomes, while detached properties are stand-alone houses. Commercial listings include everything from retail space to mixed-use buildings.
Listing information generally consists of address, price, location, photos, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, taxes, assessments, year built, room dimensions, building amenities, appliances, parking options, listing agent contact info and more. Up to nine photos are allowed for Chicago MLS listings, but the inclusion of photos is not a required field to post a listing.
The Chicago MLS can be used for many different purposes. One is to search for properties that meet specific search parameters (e.g. 3-bedroom single-family detached homes in Beverly between $300,000 and $350,000). The Chicago MLS search applications allow users to conduct very fine-tuned home searches, which helps agents locate places to suit their clients’ needs. It also generates reports such as Comparative Market Analyses, Area Market Surveys, Market Statistics, Market Share, and custom reports designed by the user to pull particular data.
Many real estate websites provide a way for non-members to access basic Chicago MLS information through online search engines. The search engine pulls data from the MLS, permitting homebuyers to see fundamental listing info such as price, location and size. But it does not offer full access to the database. This is reserved for registered MLS subscribers.
A number of MLS systems are set up throughout the United States and parts of Canada. Each is specific to its region, requires its own registration and has its own regulations. They are all run independently of each other. The MLS in Washington D.C. is probably the country’s largest. It is called the Metropolitan Regional Information System (MRIS) and it covers properties for sale in several different eastern states. There are a lot of different MLS services in the U.S. – the MLS Property Information Network in New England, the SoCal MLS in Southern California, the Southeast Florida Regional MLS in the Miami MLS area… to name a few.
The Chicago MLS is equipped with several dozen input fields that allow listing agents to enter details about each property into the database. The following includes some of information available through the Chicago MLS:
- Location: Street Address, City, County, Area #, Coordinates, Township, Map, Directions
- Price: History, Taxes, Tax Year, Assessments
- Listing Info: Date Listed, MLS #, Status, Market Time
- Size: Square Footage, Room Dimensions, Lot Size
- Rooms: Total #, # of Bedrooms, # of Bathrooms
- Property Info: Type, Complex Name, Parking, PIN #, Outdoor Space
- Building Info: Year Constructed, # of Units, Amenities, Pet Policy
- Unit Features: Utilities, Appliances, Finishes, Flooring
- Images: Photos, Virtual Tours, Aerial View
- Broker Info: Agent Contact Name, Phone Number, Email, Company, ID #s