Looking for Charleston real estate? The best way to get started is to find an agent who can give you full access to the Multiple Listing Service
(usually called the “MLS” in Charleston). The MLS contains almost all of the homes for sale in Charleston, SC
. The only homes it does not include are For Sale By Owner houses (and some of these manage to find their way into the MLS).
The Charleston MLS shows listings from all the offices of all the real estate companies in Charleston, SC. So, it is not partial to any one group of real estate agents. The MLS allows your agent to set up a search for you with practically any feature you want. You can choose the number of bedrooms and baths, the size of the lot, the type of home, the area, the price range, as well as very specific features (like a screened porch). Basically, you can tell your agent exactly what you’re looking for, and he or she can show you or email you every listed home that matches.
This is a great service we can provide our clients, but it is not all the Charleston MLS allows us to do. We can also research old listings (listings that either were sold or were withdrawn from the MLS) to find out what a home’s price should be. Before we write an offer for our clients, we generally pull up the histories of the neighborhood’s listings and try to determine the fair market value for the home.
This is especially important in today’s market. For example, the week before last, I was able to show that a certain house my clients were interested in was actually worth about $20,000 less than the list price (or the asking price). Using statistics I pulled from the Charleston MLS, I was able to compare the active listings (listings currently for sale) and the old listings to the actual house we were making an offer on. My clients originally said they would like to take $10,000 off the asking price in their offer. Using the MLS statistics, I was able to argue with the seller that we should be able to take $20,000 off the listing price. Pulling these statistics from the Charleston MLS took a good bit of time to get the accurate information. However, it was well worth that extra step for my clients, since I saved them quite a bit of money.
The Charleston MLS also can give statistics to show market trends for any given area in Charleston. So, you can see if listing prices are going up (and how much). You can also find out how many listings are on the market this month and compare that number with this time last year. And, you can find the average price homes sold for (not just what they were listed for) in a certain neighborhood. These are just a few examples of the information you can get on the MLS.
So, the Charleston MLS can help home buyers in three very important ways. First, it allows you to access all of the home listings in Charleston (and, if you want, to see only the listings that meet the criteria you set). Second, it records information about previous listings – so, you have access not only to current listings, but also to every listing that has ever been on the MLS. And third, the Charleston MLS provides statistics for market trends, which can help agents and clients get an idea of the bigger picture.