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Friday, April 10, 2015

How to Search for Homes on the Alaska MLS

How to Use the Alaska MLS

A question and answer guide from Great Alaskan Homes Blog, to finding the right home in Anchorage, Eagle River, or Chugiak.

What is the Alaska MLS?

When a property is put up for sale it is called a listing. Brokers and their agents subscribe to a data networking service, called the MLS, to share information about their listings with each other. MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service. Before the Alaska MLS was formed, real estate agents shared 3 ring binders with each other of their properties for sale. This was a cumbersome process and information was quickly outdated. With the advent of the internet 3 ring binders became obsolete and market data can now be updated within minutes. This network provides both home sellers and buyers a much more efficient way to advertise their listings and shop for new homes.

What kind of information does the Alaska MLS have?

The MLS has information about properties that: are currently for sale, have been sold, have been cancelled, have been re-listed, have expired, or have been withdrawn. Many time sellers will reduce or increase the price they are asking for a property and the MLS records data on all price and status changes in real time. The Alaska MLS is able to analyze this data for members to provide them important market reports on where the market is heading.
For example:
According to the latest Alaska MLS Freedman Reed Index Report, the average home sales price in Anchorage rose 2.62% up to $346,212. Also, the average time it takes for a home to sell in Anchorage decreased from 60 days in 2012 to 47 in 2013. A days on market rate not seen since 2006. This tells us, that if you own a home and are thinking of selling- NOW IS THE TIME!
This information is from the general Index report available to the public. Only your real estate agent has access to the full Index which is a more powerful market research tool used every day in the real estate industry.

What is the Freeman Reed Index?

According to the Alaska MLS, 'The Freeman-Reed Index is a detailed monthly statistical analysis of the Alaska real estate market. The complete Index is a comprehensive analysis of local and regional data and includes data by narrow price ranges, property types, specific communities, and detailed data tables including current and historical information, market trends and more in much greater detail.'

How does the Freedman Reed Index help with my real estate needs?

This index report is released in its entirety to members of the Alaska MLS. Your real estate agent can look up detailed statistics tailored to your own property needs. For example, if you are looking to sell your home, your agent can research similar homes that have sold in the past 6 months. When analyzing local sales history and competing homes that are currently for sale, your agent can suggest the best price for your home. If you are looking to buy a home, your agent can research what similar homes have recently sold for, making sure you are not overpaying for your home.

Who can search the Alaska MLS?

The general public can access MLS listings through IDX syndication websites, such as Trulia or Zillow, while real estate agents and brokers can access the Alaska MLS directly. Although the general public has access to view the same listings, real estate agents usually get access to the newest listings sooner than the IDX websites. Many IDX websites only update once a day, while the actual Alaska MLS database records pending sales, closings, price changes, cancellations, new listings, status changes, and expirations in real time throughout the day.
Also, the Alaska MLS provides more commentaries and supporting documents to listings than the basic summaries found on the IDX websites. Even if you do your own MLS searches, your real estate agent can provide you with the actual MLS data sheets, disclosures, as-builts and any other information disclosed under a private documents section. This shows you overlooked details you may need to know about a property before you buy.

What is an IDX website?

The Alaska MLS is not a free public resource, it is a privately owned real estate industry organization. The Alaska MLS charges members significant money for access to the data. The money generated pays for its administration, hardware, network, member training, maintenance and other agent services. Real estate agents, through their membership dues pay for this access and are granted the tools to search the MLS directly from its servers.
For public access, fees are paid by website owners, who must apply for permission and follow MLS rules in order to syndicate MLS listings through their websites. Upon succesful application, contracted permission is granted by the Alaska MLS to website owners who then pay web developers and coders to format the MLS listing data to display on their webpages. This type of MLS data syndication is called an IDX service, which stands for internet data exchange.

Do I need a real estate agent to access the Alaska MLS?

No, you can search publicly available IDX syndications on your own. However, detailed property information and supporting documents are only available to the active members of the Alaska MLS. When you choose to work with a real estate agent, they can provide you information that you may not know is available to you. IDX services only display the basic information of a listing.

So where do I go to start searching the Alaska MLS?

You can visit AnchorageHouseSales.com to search for free courtesy of Dan Benton with Jack White Real Estate. This is his IDX service he provides for all of his websites, including GreatAlaskanHomes.com. If you register with Dan's website, you can save your own custom search results, sign up for new listing alerts, and have access to general market statistics prepared in easy to read charts and tables.


© 2014 Dan Benton
Dan Benton - Realtor with Jack White Real Estate
3801 Centerpoint Dr., Anchorage, AK
Phone: (907) 727-5279

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