If you are looking to purchase a new home, your first course of action would be to contact a real estate agent about any available properties in your desired area. From there, your agent would likely connect you to a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that would allow you to pick and choose from the listed properties at your leisure.
But, what if you’re looking to purchase a commercial property (such as an office space) for your business? Would you be able to use an MLS to search for properties in the same manner? In this blog, we will be answering this question and exploring whether an MLS can be used for both residential and commercial properties.
What is an MLS?
Before we move on to the actual question, let’s clarify what exactly an MLS is. This service is a database of real estate properties that allows real estate agents to share detailed information about the properties they have listed for sale. It acts as a centralized platform that lists information such as property details, pricing, and images.
The MLS came about as a result of a need for real estate professionals to share information with each other and help sell their own properties. They agree to cooperate in each other’s sales in exchange for compensation when the property is sold. Due to this need, the MLS was established, which has since been instrumental in making real estate transactions more efficient for investors (buyers) and agents alike.
Is there an MLS for commercial real estate?
For the most part, an MLS is generally only used for residential properties. You would be hard-pressed to find any commercial properties listed on these platforms. Instead, there are specialized platforms that are used specifically for commercial properties.
A key difference between an MLS platform and commercial platforms is that MLSs are usually privately owned. There are a few exceptions (similar to the examples mentioned above) that are available to the public, but in essence, MLSs can only be accessed by a specific group of individuals. To gain access to a private MLS, you would have to get permission from a real estate agent who is involved in that MLS.
If you’re looking for a database of commercial properties that can be publicly accessed, here are some options. (Please note that these platforms are only available in the US, and/or Canada and U.K. If you live outside these countries, you may need to look for other local options):
The Benefits of an MLS in Commercial Real Estate
1. Increased Efficiency and Transparency
By implementing MLS into the commercial real estate industry, the efficiency and transparency of these transactions will be greatly improved. As is the nature of an MLS, all of the data about the many individual property listings will be gathered and consolidated within one system. This will end up saving a lot of time and effort that real estate agents would otherwise have put into managing their own listings. Buyers will be able to access all of these property details within one system, and agents will only need to direct them to the system instead of explaining each property in detail. As a result of this, faster transactions will occur and the administrative requirements of the agents will be cut down.
Additionally, the MLS will also ensure that all transactions are transparent and fair. Buyers will be able to see intricate property details such as financial data, terms of the lease, and also previous transaction records. By being more transparent, buyers will be more likely to make a quicker decision as they are highly informed and will know that the data can be trusted.
2. Advanced insights into the real estate market
In any industry, qualified data is an invaluable asset for professionals. Through an MLS, real estate professionals can make high-value decisions using the data provided by the system. Sales, leases, and other details of many properties in a specific area will be available on the platform. This data can be aggregated to generate reports on the state of the market. For example, market trends, patterns in buyer demand, and pricing trends. With this information, professionals can plan more strategically and assess the risk they face when entering a particular market.
Similarly, this data can also be used to identify future trends such as emerging marketing opportunities. For example, the data can show local areas that are mostly untapped by other agents and/or have upcoming properties with high potential. This will give professionals a chance to be proactive in their approach, thereby giving them an edge over their competition.
Other Platforms for Commercial Real Estate
While there are options for MLSs in the commercial real estate market, this may not always be the case depending on where you live. As such, here are some other options you could explore when you’re looking for a commercial property.
- Commercial broker – They have access to extensive networks and databases in their local area.
- Real estate associations – They often have their own databases or platforms for their members’ commercial listings.
- Real estate websites – These act as a marketplace where commercial property owners can list their properties for potential buyers.
An MLS for commercial properties is not as common as for residential properties, but they do exist. If you can find one in your local area, it can be a great resource for finding commercial properties for sale or lease. If not, you still have other options you can explore.