What is The MLS in Real Estate: Listing Statuses Explained

MLS Listing Statuses Explained

Real estate can be confusing when you’re not practicing it every day. As real estate agents, we sometimes think consumers understand all the nuances of our business.

Real estate terms are often batted around as a standard part of everyone’s language. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

There are many meanings of things that escape the average consumer. The perfect example is the MLS listing statuses we take for granted as agents.

A significant percentage of buyers and sellers have no idea what they mean. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll better understand how the multiple listing service (MLS) works.

You’ll also have a much better handle on each of the MLS listing statuses you will see when looking at homes online.

To list in MLS offers significant advantages for consumers.

What is The Multiple Listing Service (MLS)?

Have you ever wondered what the MLS is and how it works?

MLS is short for the multiple listing service. The MLS is a system whereby real estate agencies disseminate information about properties from one real estate agent to another online. The first multiple listing service was created in the 1800s.

At first, information was passed by books or journals. Things changed when the internet arrived, and the MLS was moved entirely online.

The multiple listing service works as a system of cooperation and compensation from one broker to another regarding all housing types.

The MLS is used to help clients buy and sell properties. Through the MLS, consumers can see all the homes available to purchase. You can also see what homes have sold for.

The MLS will show you what’s available to purchase, whether a single-family home, condo, multi-family, townhouse, or land.

No MLS Means Limited Exposure For Home Sellers

A seller’s property exposure would be limited without the multiple listing service. There are more than 800 different MLSs across the United States.

Real Estate brokerages share properties they have listed through the system. Other brokers and real estate agents can cooperate with the listing agent and be compensated with a real estate commission for bringing the buyer.

Through the MLS, a seller benefits by getting significantly increased exposure for their property. Buyers benefit because they can obtain information about all MLS-listed homes for sale by working with one buyer’s agent.

It’s the reason pocket listings and off market properties are frowned upon. The MLS is a powerful marketing tool.

Each MLS is a private database created, maintained, and paid for by real estate agents. Many prominent real estate websites such as Realtor.com, Zillow.com, and Trulia.com get the listing information displayed on their websites through an MLS feed.

What Information Do You Get From The MLS?

What is MLS

By paying dues, real estate agents gain access to the local MLS. By paying for admission, a real estate agent will be able to see all of the listings available.

A vast amount of information is shared, including photos of all the properties and essential details.

Some of the MLS details include:

What is an MLS Number?

An MLS number is an arbitrary number assigned to each listing as an identifier. MLS numbers were created to be able to identify different properties quickly.

Now that you understand what the MLS is and how it works, let’s look at each listing status meaning.

The MLS Also Gives You Other Information

The MLS not only gives real estate agents access to other properties for sale, but the system also will give you other information. For example, you can access information on who owns a property.

You can also access some information about the previous history of the property. Typically, you can see who the previous owners were, when they bought the property, and what they paid.

Sometimes you will also be able to see the mortgage they took at the time of purchase. Agents can also upload additional information that can be accessed to help sell a property.

What is Flat Fee MLS?

Without a doubt, the MLS is a powerful marketing tool, but full-service agents do much more to sell a home than just listing it in MLS.

However, if that is what you are looking for, there are flat fee real estate brokerages that do nothing more than list your house in MLS.

It is only a few hundred dollars to list in MLS. There are many cons to doing this if you want to sell for the highest price possible.

You should now have a better understanding of what the MLS is and how it works. Let’s look at each listing status meaning.

On Market MLS Property Listing Statuses

MLS Listing Statuses Explained

First, let’s look at each listing status for active properties.

New Listing (NEW)

The property has just come on the market when you see the word new next to a listing. You are likely to see “new” for a few days before the status changes to “active.”

When you see a NEW listing, it should be available to purchase.

Active Listing (ACTIVE)

When you see the word “active” on a listing, it should be available to purchase. However, it is vital to note that an offer to purchase can be accepted at any time on a property.

A real estate agent might not rush to their computer to change the status.

Sometimes it won’t be done until the earnest money is in hand and then deposited into the company’s escrow account.

It would be best never to assume a home is available without first checking with your real estate agent.

The active listing status applies to both homes for sale and properties for rent.

Contingent Listing (CONTINGENT)

When you see a home listed as contingent, the property is under contract. A buyer and seller have either executed an offer to purchase or a purchase and sale agreement.

Contingent real estate can sometimes be confusing, although it shouldn’t be.

Some contingencies will need to be met with the contingent status before the sale can move forward. Some of the most common contingencies in a real estate contract include a home inspection and mortgage financing.

It is possible there could be a home sale contingency clause, but that is rare. Most sellers will shy away from a home sale contingency. When there is a ratified contract, real estate agents have the option to market a home as contingent or pending.

When a home is marked as contingent, the days on the market continue to increase as if the house was for sale. For this reason, some agents, including myself, will choose to mark the home as pending instead. See pending vs. contingent for an explanation of why.

Higher days on the market can negatively impact a seller if the accepted contract falls through.

Price Change (PCG)

When the price of a home changes in the multiple listing service, it will be noted as a listing status called PCG. The status will stay that way for a few days before it reverts to active status.

By noting the price change in MLS, any potential buyers can see there was either a price reduction or increase.

Back on Market (BOM)

When a house sale falls through, and the seller wishes to continue to try to sell, the house will go back into the MLS. The status associated with a back on the market listing is BOM.

When a home goes back on the market, it will be listed as such for three days. If nobody comes along in that time frame to purchase the house, it will fall back to active status.

Real estate agents will want to find out the reason why when properties come back on the market. Some of the most common reasons are a home inspection revealing significant problems, a low real estate appraisal, or the buyer not getting their mortgage.

When real estate markets heavily favor sellers, bidding wars often push the sale price past the current fair market value. When this happens, it can lead to failed appraisals. Many real estate agents are now asking for appraisal gap language to be included to avoid this issue.

Extended Listing (EXT)

A listing contract will be signed when a real estate agent initially meets with a homeowner to list their property. The agreement will be for a specific period of time. Listing contracts typically go anywhere from 3-6 months.

The contract may need to be extended when a real estate agent has not sold a home during the agreed-upon period. A listing can be extended for an agreed-upon amount of time. When you see this status in the MLS, the seller and agent have agreed to continue the listing contract.

Reactivated Listing (RAC)

The property has temporarily fallen out of the MLS system if you see the reactivated listing status. It will be marked as expired at first. When an agent puts a home back into the system within ten days, it will show as reactivated.

Off Market MLS Property Listing Statuses

Off Market Listing in MLS

The following are the listing statuses you will see in MLS when the home is no longer for sale.

Under Agreement (UAG)

The under agreement listing status means that a contract has been executed between the buyer and seller.

It is also likely to indicate that all the contingencies have been satisfied. In a competitive seller’s market, cash buyers have no contingencies.

When there are no contingencies to satisfy, an agent will mark the home in MLS as pending. See a detailed explanation of what pending means in real estate.

The vast majority of the time, a pending sale does not come back on the market.

You are only likely to see a sale fall apart at this point if the buyer loses their job or the title search reveals a title defect that couldn’t be solved quickly enough.

Withdrawn Listing (WDN)

A withdrawn listing means that the seller has decided they no longer wish to sell their property. However, the listing contract remains in full force and effect.

The seller is still obligated to honor the contract terms before selling their property during a specified period.

It is possible the listing will only be withdrawn for a short amount of time. It will be best to have your real estate agent check if you’re interested in the house.

Expired Listing (EXP)

An expired listing is where the home did not sell during the contract between the agent and homeowner. Expired listings sometimes come back on with a new real estate agency.

The likelihood of that happening is significant when the seller feels the real estate agent did not do a good job marketing and selling the home.

Expired listings happen more frequently when the real estate market favors home buyers.

Canceled Listing (CAN)

A canceled listing is a listing status where the seller and real estate agent have mutually agreed to terminate the listing contract. Canceled listing contracts usually happen for a couple of different reasons.

Either the seller no longer wishes to sell, or the parties do not get along well. Sometimes, a seller feels their agent is doing a terrible job and wants to fire them.

The home would likely be back on the market if the listing were canceled due to the agent’s performance.

Sold Listing (SLD)

A sold listing is a successful home sale. The home is no longer available to purchase as there is a new homeowner. Sold properties happen very quickly in favorable seller’s markets.

It can take a home much longer to reach the sold status in a buyer’s market.

Rented Listing (RNT)

When looking to find a rental home, you may come across the rented listing status. It means another tenant has been accepted, and the property is no longer available to rent.

Other MLS Listing Statuses

The above listing statuses are the most common. However, you may see a few others depending on where you’re located. If you’re unsure about a property listing status, speak with your real estate agent. They should be able to define the listing status for you clearly.

Final Thoughts

The MLS is an exceptional tool to help connect buyers and sellers. Without MLS, real estate agents would not be able to market homes as effectively.

You now should understand the purpose of MLS and the definition of each MLS status. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.


About the author: The above Real Estate information on what is the MLS and listing statuses were provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for 35+ years.

Are you thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service Real Estate Sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Natick, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton, and Uxbridge MA.


What is The MLS in Real Estate: Listing Statuses Explained

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What is The MLS in Real Estate: Listing Statuses Explained


See what the multiple listing service (MLS) is in real estate. Learn about all the different listing statuses in the MLS system.


Bill Gassett

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Maximum Real Estate Exposure

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Bill Gassett

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