Real Insight
by Craig Levine 

What is a multiple listing service? How can it help when buying or selling a home?

Tim - Austell


Multiple Listing Services have been around in the Atlanta area for over 40 years. The First Multiple Listing Service, or FMLS as it is commonly known, was started in 1957 and consisted of 13 member companies that exchanged information about properties for sale. FMLS was reluctant at first to allow other companies to join and so shortly after it formed, the Metro Listing Service (MLS) was launched to compete with FMLS for member companies. The MLS became a true "multiple listing service" and made it easier for real estate companies to join. Eventually, the FMLS followed suit and allowed more companies to join, but they had to meet high standards of production. 

Both organizations operated pretty much the same way. Each day, new listings and price changes were put into agents' mailboxes and made their way into loose-leaf notebooks that were the individual agent's responsibility to maintain. The tedious coordination of property listings was eliminated in the early 1970's when listing books with hundreds and thousands of properties were printed for the agents of both listing services. The books were widely distributed and made it easier for agents to network and market their properties. If an agent was working with a buyer, he would be able to identify specific properties that matched his client's preferences fairly quickly. In turn, the marketing time of homes was significantly decreased because home shopping was now more focused with less random driving required. 

In the latter part of the 1970's both listing services went online and were able to furnish property listings via a search conducted on a computer. This further enhanced home shopping efficiency by allowing agents to use up-to- the-minute availability. Where listing books were printed every two weeks, listings online were updated daily. Agents now had access to timely listing data and could search for properties based upon a set of criteria established by a buyer. Property searches that used to take weeks and even months, now took days and even hours.

In the 90's, both listing services have grown in membership substantially. FMLS now claims to have over 7,000 agents networking to buy and sell member properties. MLS claims to have over 10,000 agents working together. Each has developed niches of Atlanta that it serves well. Ask a realtor today and he/she will most likely tell you that FMLS is more predominant on the north side of Atlanta and that MLS is more predominant on the south side (not to say that each does not function on the opposite side of town). Ultimately, their goal is to help sellers move their properties faster and give buyers the ability to find properties that are as close to "perfect" as possible. 
Getting a jump up, the Metro Listing Service has taken the initiative to go "public" by offering its full database over the Internet ( Additionally, MLS will be the first listing service nationwide to operate exclusively over the Internet. Some of the benefits include up to 15 pictures of each property, home mapping, school searches and reports, crime statistics, and 24-hour connections for agents, anywhere in the world. Look for FMLS to go to an Internet based system in the year 2000.

Having been licensed since 1994, Craig Levine brings to your real estate deal a world of experience, cutting-edge technology, negotiating savvy, and exemplary service. With Century 21 in Atlanta, Craig was the #2 agent in the #1 office in Georgia in 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001! He repeatedly received Century 21's highest honor, The Centurion Award, in each of these years. In 2002, Craig joined Re/Max Greater Atlanta, the Nation's #1 Re/Max office. Additionally, Craig got licensed in Florida to bring his arsenal of skills and resources into the Emerald Coast's 2nd Home and Investment market. Now, he wants to put his talents to work for you! Craig is an avid boater, golfer, traveler, biker, and reader. He has written for numerous print magazines including The Seasonal, The Gazette, Cobb Living, Cobbonline, The Cobb Times, Atlanta Nation, Cherokee Nation, North Fulton Nation, Gwinnett Nation, The Southeast Business Journal, Lake Lanier Herald, Revue and News, John's Creek Herald, Forsyth Herald, North Atlanta Business Post, as well as various online real estate related web sites. Craig is also frequently quoted in Georgia Realtor Magazine, Florida Realtor Magazine, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, and the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Please visit all of his award-winning web sites:,,,,, and