Nothing helps Alaska property owners buy or sell a home quite like the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). For buyers, it provides a list of properties for sale that their agent can access or that they can view at one of hundreds of different websites; for sellers, it provides a means of gaining exposure to thousands of home buyers living in or relocating to the state of Alaska. No other marketing method comes close to the power of the MLS. Think about it, wouldn’t you rather search by properties using a computer database that lists extensive, clearly formatted information instead of simply driving around and looking for “For Sale” signs or trying to piece together information found in the newspaper classifieds? In searching for a home in Palmer, Alaska, for instance, you probably expect to find loads of information (price, number of bedrooms, location, school district, utilities, etc.) before you are ready to make an offer on a home. In the age of Internet and instant information at our fingertips, the MLS puts this data directly in front of us and has thus become even more powerful than it ever was before.
When people ask about the Alaska MLS, however, it is important to understand what that means exactly. The Alaska Multiple Listing Service (AKMLS) is a privately-owned association which was founded in 1956. Its membership is made up of Alaska real estate brokers that each paid a fee to join as well as monthly and other fees. They must complete training and meet state continuing education requirements. AKMLS maintains the AlaskaRealEstate.com website which is viewable to consumers as well as more detailed listing information available only to broker-members and accessed through a private login screen. AKMLS is headquartered in Anchorage and while it does allow its participants to list a property in the entire State of Alaska. Until their recent merger, Matanuska-Susitna Borough (Wasilla, Palmer, etc.) despite its close proximity to Anchorage, had its own MLS, the Mat-Su MLS. Some other examples of separate MLS systems in the state include Juneau, Fairbanks, Southeast Alaska (Sitka, Ketchikan, etc.)
Homeowners need to make sure their property is placed in the system that will most benefit them. Homebuyers also need to be aware that the site they are browsing may just be focused on one particular area rather than the entire state. Some offices are members of more than one system and others have branches in multiple parts of the state. Ask the broker involved with the sale of your home exactly which system your home is placed in and whether it is the most beneficial for you. Make sure when you list your home, you do your best to find out the relevant information to put into the listing. Look at your closing statement when you bought the property, past appraisals, assessor records, and other sources of information. As a buyer, focus on the attributes of a home that are important to you, such as size or price. Don’t overly restrict options if the particular search field isn’t relevant to you.