Is there a Multiple Listing Service in Costa Rica?
As a person browsing the internet looking for Costa Rica real estate, one will have seen the terms “MLS” and “Multiple Listing Service” numerous times. What this term means when seen on a Costa Rica real estate site varies greatly from what it means on real estate sites from the United States. To understand the difference, lets consider what the North American viewers understand when they see “MLS” or “Multiple Listing Service”.
In the U.S., there is a central database of available properties for a given region. All listed properties have a listing agent. This listing agent will receive a percentage from the sale of the property no matter who sells it. This offers a tremendous advantage to the buyer since they are able to approach the realtor of their choice and know that they will be shown everything that is on the market in their price range and taste. It has the disadvantage that the listing agent of a given property may favor his own listings over what other listing agents have.
In Costa Rica, MLS or Multiple Listing Service means simply, “we’ve got a large data base of properties”. There is not really any such thing as an MLS in Costa Rica, but you will definitely see it on a good portion of the web sites that deal with Costa Rica real estate.
Why do so many Costa Rican realtors claim to offer a MLS when in fact there is no such thing? Because prospective buyers, who use the Internet, look for what they know. Many of the searches by people looking for Costa Rica real estate are executed by the searcher inputting the key phrase: “MLS Costa Rica” or “Costa Rica Multiple listing service” or one of any number of possibilities involving those keyword phrases into the search area of Google, Yahoo, MSN etc… So really it is in response to the demands of the marketplace.
There is an upside to this practice. It is that, for the most part, all realtors are going to knock themselves out to make sure that they are completely up to date with the properties that are currently available on the market. They are highly motivated to find the property that will satisfy what the client is looking for, since that is how they make their money.
The U.S. counterparts enjoy 2 sources of income, one as listing agent, and the other as the seller. Costa Rican realtors get the whole enchilada. All 8% (The standard commission here. This varies depending on various factors.) of the commission since there is no listing agent.
The trick is to be informed. Costa Rica has no licensing of realtors, nor is there anywhere near the necessary organization among the realtors to achieve an actual Multiple Listing Service. Maybe someday, but in the meantime, when you see the terms “MLS” or “Multiple Listing Service” on a Costa Rica real estate website, know that this means that the realtor has a database of properties, possibly from all parts of the country, but not necessarily.