The MLS Real Estate Toronto listing service, mls.ca, is the official website of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), which is a system on which the majority of homes are listed for potential buyers to locate homes. The system is designed as a marketing tool for real estate agents to promote their homes to the general public on one website. The site is designed to make searching for properties easier for buyers while protecting important and private information about the seller.
Located at MLS.ca, the website states, "This web site is an advertising vehicle provided by REALTORS® across Canada to help market properties. This web site is not an MLS® system. Please contact a REALTOR® for complete details about all properties listed here.” In order to populate MLS.ca, local real estate boards provide data to the site to help the public search the MLS listings within their market. In Toronto, the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) uploads partial listings on a daily basis.
Unlike MLS.ca, which contains data easily accessible by the public, realtors use their own board's internal system to search, find, compare and learn more detailed information about listings. In Toronto, the system used is called Trebnet and has several measures of security including private login details and a randomized key fob system in order to gain access. The reasons that the two systems exist – one public and one private, are several. One reason is the privacy act. The private MLS systems contain information about the seller including their name, financing options and other relevant information that would be required to draft a purchase and sale agreement.
The data contained within the system is also historic in nature, documenting every sale over the last several decades including price, buyer and other information. This data is all uploaded in near real time, meaning any changes are made immediately.
Another reason that MLS Real Estate Toronto listings provide less data is in the case of luxury real estate owners looking to sell. Often, in the case of affluent owners looking to sell, they would prefer that qualified people with actual interest in buying would be the only people visiting their home for sale. In many cases, luxury homes for sale remain off the MLS system altogether to protect their privacy, however in recent years, with more privacy options available this has changed. In many cases, a home can be posted on the public MLS.ca system without including an actual address. In order to obtain that information a real estate agent would be required.
The MLS.ca system is ideal for those browsing for homes in the standard home market. For buyers of luxury real estate, the system may not provide the same usefulness though. In both cases, a real estate agent should be used in order to facilitate and earn access to other important information about these homes for sale in Toronto.