Updated: Sep 8
In this article I wanted to dive into the question of whether or not you should use Zillow (or other public websites) instead of a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) search with an agent. Getting a targeted search is important to saving you time in searching, and time saved is critical since it's much easier to be burned out in a search that's not expertly put together. Burn out can lead to not being on top of things when the right property becomes available, which can mean another person seeing it, making an offer, and getting under contract before you (sometimes <12 hrs after it hits the market).
Below I'll be going over:
I. Where Public Websites Fall Short
II. Where Public Websites to Find Homes are Helpful
Image here & many others courtesy Zillow
I. Where Public Websites Fall Short:
Reduced Accuracy (i.e. >30% of properties in Hampton Roads listed as "for sale" are actually already under contract with another buyer, while MLS can weed out the majority of those properties)
Keep in mind that Zillow, like Realtor.com, Trulia, OJO, & other public websites, are more likely to have inaccurate information than MLS. Be sure to not take everything at face value.
In Zillow, & on most public websites, a property can be listed as active, but not actually available as I show in my article on the subject & my video on the subject. That's a major problem for buyers searching in Hampton Roads, but not a big issue in places like Richmond and the Northern Neck due to differences in MLS policies where properties tend to go from active to pending once under contract even if there are contingencies in the latter 2 locations. in Hampton Roads, as of 5/29/23, 1005 out of 3334 (30%) active properties on REIN, the primary MLS of Hampton Roads, were listed as active contingent on REIN MLS (under contract, with no way to tell on most public websites). Homes.com appears to weed out the active contingent properties unless you select "contingent", but has other problematic features, like a city of Hampton basic search including dozens of properties in Newport News, Poquoson, & York County by default with no way to weed those out without painstakingly drawing a perimeter of Hampton. REIN.com is another location where you can see if a home is active contingent in Hampton Roads, but you're unable to weed out active contingent homes in a search & some parts of Hampton Roads, i.e. Williamsburg & Gloucester, are best with searches directly from REIN MLS & another MLS due to substantial MLS overlap.
Acreage can be off, so be sure to look at the surrounding area to see if it truly looks like a high-acreage property rather than taking the property listing’s word for it. You can also check the tax records for the property to be sure.
Anything that is for sale by the owner has a higher likelihood of being off than a property listed by an agent.
Reduced Options for Searching
Keep in mind that not only is Zillow and other public websites less accurate than MLS, but they have less searching options. Common elements of searches I do on MLS are not possible on public websites like Zillow. There are likely more than triple the options on MLS than there are on any public website. For instance:
1. There's not a user friendly way for me to rule out fixer uppers or homes based on financing type such as for FHA buyers, VA buyers, conventional buyers using a typical conventional loan, or those in need of a renovation loan or cash on Zillow or other public websites, but I can do some of all of that via filters on REIN MLS, the primary MLS of Hampton Roads. Likewise if you're an investor and want to target those properties exclusively, I can do that on REIN MLS. Most agents with access to REIN MLS won't know about the 5 different search options I can use to help me accomplish that 1 task, while with me, it's part of my standard template for searches.
2. On MLS, I have created search templates, some of which have taken hours to create. Those templates help significantly when it comes time for a buyer to use one. USDA zones are a good example & here are some other examples. Keep in mind though that most agents are unwilling to spend hours on search templates, & have never done so, while I've spent dozens of hours on search templates.
3. On MLS, there are ways to eliminate certain hazardous or problematic substances from siding options, such as EIFS & asbestos.
4. On MLS, there are easy options to narrow by stories (i.e. no 3 story homes), while with Zillow, the only option for narrowing by stories is single story only.
Reduced Details/Features on Property
With an MLS feed, you'll be getting directly what's from the listing, while on Zillow and other websites, there are pieces of information that won't populate anywhere, where you would need to go to the MLS to get that information.
I have seen many cases where something as important as a virtual tour wasn't populating on Zillow, Realtor.com, & other major public search options that were present on MLS. The reason for it is that quite often, agents and admins inputting listings don't input the right kind of link that allows for autoSeeing a virtual tour can rule out a property that you might drive a long distance to see otherwise for nothing.
In some cases, the absence of photo captions on public websites that can be present on MLS can mean the difference of night and day in photos, especially if the agent is detailed, doesn't repeat what's in the listing already, and the photos are of the area. Here is an example from 1 of my own listings, where you have a LOT better experience with the area photos when captions are present that at times state details including proximity to the home, possibilities for activities at locations, important elements not visible in the photo, free options, etc.
Be sure to click on "View all 50 Photos" & I suggest scrolling directly to the area photos where the highest volume of captions are both present and needed to illuminate what the photo and the attraction can mean for viewers
Image courtesy Onehome
Image courtesy Onehome
Captions can also answer questions you might have, such as the fact that this shed conveys (see bottom left) rather than the seller taking it with them:
Image courtesy Onehome
A major problem in SE VA is flooding, to such a degree that I recommend that buyers click on a propertie's flood zone before scrolling through any pictures of the property. Some cities/counties have over half of the properties in areas that would require flood insurance. Flood insurance can be anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars on an annual basis. In some cases, homes that have previously flooded within the home are still sold with no disclosure of previous flooding. There is supposed to be disclosure under some circumstances of flood history, but there often isn't.
While some public websites for homes have integrated flooding features, typically they won't include a map, and seeing a map is critical to know whether or not a property is in a flood zone. Sometimes the listing agent and sellers themselves will provide inaccurate information, and sometimes when they know a property is in a flood zone, they'll say nothing. When they say something, sometimes it won't be public, but only found in agent remarks along with information like lockbox codes.
With MLS, often there will be a flood zone feature, such as in the Matrix portal that can be used with CVR MLS, WBG MLS, REIN MLS, and CBRAR MLS. Some MLS are behind the curve, like Navica in Northern Neck. For places like Northern Neck MLS, & for most public websites (even if it has a built in flood zone feature that fails to include a flood map) you'll need to go to a 3rd party website to locate flood zones.
To look at a flood zone within the portal, you just click the map section
Image courtesy https://cvrmls.mlsmatrix.com/
Then you click "Layers" or "Boundaries", select the flood zone option, & click "apply":
Here's how that looks in the satellite view:
Image courtesy https://cvrmls.mlsmatrix.com/
For more details on navigating flood zones in Matrix from an MLS search from WBG MLS, CVR MLS, CBRAR MLS, or REIN MLS, go here:
Realtor.com has a flood map, but its accuracy is problematic. For instance, you would think by looking at this map that this property is not a flood zone with no flood insurance required:
Image courtesy Realtor.com
You'd be wrong, as you can see on MLS with the whole row of homes in AE flood zones with required flood insurance:
Image courtesy Reinmls.mlsmatrix.com
While it doesn't appear to be as much of a problem now as it used to be, I've seen where it took Zillow days after a property hit the market before it appeared on Zillow. If you wait that long, the property could be already under contract.
I've seen at least one case where a property was missing from Zillow (on 4/10/23) & other public websites like Homes.com while present on Realtor.com . That property wasn't missing due to lag time since it had been on the market for months. I've seen the opposite as well, where a property is present on Zillow but not present, even after being listed for months, on Realtor.com. Some public websites have many properties that are on MLS that are not on the particular public website, especially if the listing agent/their firm isn't using something like Listhub to help them advertise their listings.
While "Estimated Payments" (i.e. on Zillow) are often an integrated feature of public websites, these estimates can be very misleading in some cases due to the volume of assumptions that are made. While seemingly convenient, it's much better to go about the old-fashioned approach of getting to know what you can qualify for with specific lenders based on your situation and loan type (if applicable) rather than putting any confidence in these estimates. The fact that a disclaimer is required should give you pause here. On Zillow, that disclaimer states, "Mortgage interest rates are dependent on a number of factors, including credit score, down payment, and repayment length. Certain mortgage lenders with which we have lead or other similar arrangements have provided interest rates as of5/28/2023; the Estimated Payment is an average of those rates."
While there is often an option to contact an agent integrated into listings, in many cases, the agent you contact has no relation to the property, but is simply paying for ad space even if they are brand new in the business. Also, if you do buy unrepresented, you run some high risks, especially in buyer-beware states like AL, AR, GA, ND, VA, & WY.
Missing Buyer Agent Feedback
Buyer's agent feedback on searches is critical to developing an effective search & then critical when seeking to act on a search when something looks good.
A. The Importance of Buyer Agent Feedback in Developing a Search
There are many elements of searches that I include in my standard search templates that buyers would have very rarely mentioned if I hadn't asked them about it, with public websites not having those options available and buyers not knowing that they even could ask about them. Very often as I am conducting a search creation, when I ask buyers about if they want to exclude Exterior Insulation & Finishing System Siding or Asbestos Siding, they aren't familiar with why they might want to exclude those. Also when I ask buyers about if they want to exclude short sales, they're again sometimes unfamiliar with various dynamics of those.
B. The Importance of Buyer Agent Feedback in Acting on a Search
One of the most important elements of a buyer's agent's role with their buyer clients is to share with buyers information that's not visible to the public that could cause the buyer to not want to see the property as long as what they share is not prohibited by law (i.e. no steering). In my feedback with buyers that I am representing about properties prior to showings, I typically don't mention anything or practically anything about positive property elements unless I am confident that the buyer didn't see it (i.e. warranties detailed in agent remarks not visible to the public on MLS). My primary focus is on what might rule a property out for a buyer or that the buyer might want to know before a showing that may have been invisible to their eyes (i.e. disclosures in agent remarks not visible to the public even on MLS). Sadly, many buyer's agents skip this step, especially in cases where the buyer's agent doesn't require a buyer brokerage agreement prior to showings of listings that aren't their brokerage when the buyer's intent is to buy &/or when it's the buyer's first showing request of the agent. Many buyer's agents who abide by written buyer brokerage requirements still care more about closing on properties with buyers than they do about their fiduciary duty to protect the buyer's interests at all times.
C. Differing Roles of Buyer's Agents & Listing Agents
Typically in residential real estate, a buyer's agent is going to be a different person than a listing agent. The 2 agents each represent their own side, and are supposed to protect their clients' interests above the interests of the party on the other side of the deal. For a listing agent to point out negatives that aren't legally required to buyers (i.e. latent defects), for instance, would mean that the listing agent was in breach of their duty of loyalty to the seller. Conversely, when a buyer's agent sees problems with a home with a buyer, whether they are latent defects or not, they would be derelict in their duties to the buyer to not point them out. That said, many buyer's agents don't take this duty as seriously as I think they should, leading to a much higher percentage of buyer's remorse for buyers than there would be otherwise.
II. Where Public Websites to Find Homes are Helpful:
In Brief: When to Use Public Websites as Primary or Supplemental Search
When to use public websites as your primary search & MLS search(es) as supplemental searches:
1. Rental Search (in SE VA at least)
2. Search for homes/commercial narrowed by acreage (in SE VA at least)
3. Large Coverage Area Crossing Dozens of Counties/Cities & >5 MLS
4. Working with Low-Quality Buyer's Agents
5. Working with an Agent Outside Their Primary Coverage Area
6. Working with small & ancient looking MLS (none in SE VA)
When to use public websites as a supplemental search to main MLS search(es):
For Sale by Owner Properties
If renting, it's critical to not be relying exclusively on 1 source, and if you really want to just use 1 source, that 1 source likely shouldn't be MLS, but other public websites like Realtor.com & Zillow.com which, in Hampton Roads at least, each have higher rental inventory than MLS, especially Realtor.com. For instance, in a search I ran on Zillow, Newport News had 77% higher inventory than the primary MLS of Newport News, REIN. Realtor.com had a whopping 174% higher inventory than REIN MLS. It's not a bad idea to have an MLS search going too, because MLS may have some properties not found on Zillow or Realtor.com, MLS could show availability days before the others, and MLS has features that the others don't, but your search shouldn't start on MLS, with MLS only serving as a supplement to your primary search elsewhere in a location with higher inventory like Realtor.com.
Unlike purchasing, with finding a rental, you're really shooting yourself in the foot if you're only relying on MLS searches, even if you have >99% coverage of all MLS-listed rentals in your area across multiple MLS. The reason why is multifaceted.
1. For one thing, the inventory is so much lower than the properties for sale, and because of it, all of the unique search features of MLS don't carry as much weight for weeding properties out because the pickings are so slim.
2. In addition, with properties for rent, there is a much higher % of landlords listing properties themselves vs sellers selling themselves. With sellers, if you search on some of the top places where for sale by owners list, you might add 5% to the # of listings otherwise found on MLS in a place like Newport News, VA. With property for rent, that number is much higher.
For instance, if I perform a search right now on Zillow for properties to rent, I find 121 properties:
Image courtesy Zillow
If I do that same search on the main MLS of Newport News, there are only 70 properties that come up:
Image courtesy Rein MLS
That means that only 58% of the properties would come up on the REIN MLS search.
3. Also, if it's on MLS, it should get auto-populated onto Zillow.
4. With for sale by owner properties (FSBO's), there's an option on Zillow to only search for those properties, excluding properties that are listed by agents. With a rental search, there isn't that option on Zillow, so a baseline Zillow search for rent is generally superior to an MLS search, & no MLS search is necessary.
For Sale by Owner Properties - #1 Reason to Have 1 or More Separate Searches from Public Websites Going to Supplement MLS Search for Properties for Sale
While many agents will tell you that with an MLS search you won't need anything else. I disagree. You can get at least 5% more properties in at least some cities if you do exhaustive searches for "For Sale by Owner" FSBO properties. If nothing else, just have a separate For Sale by Owner Zillow search going, where I found the most unique properties the easiest in my research.
Most for sale by owner properties won't be on MLS, so if MLS is the only place you look, there will be a small percentage of properties that you won't see. In a sample I did in Newport News, I was able to see 5% of the total unique listings between MLS (95%) & exhaustive searches across 6 other websites (the remaining 5% unique listings, though many duplicates in certain locations like Craigslist to weed through).
FSBO properties provide a unique set of challenges not found with typical listings, & some buyers may want to rule them out entirely. While not always the case, be prepared to have some situations where the seller will be unwilling to pay your buyer's agent's commission. Your buyer's agents should ask the commission question before you ever see the property so that you can know in advance about if you would need to pay your agent if you were to get under contract with the seller. In addition, keep in mind that the seller likely won't respond as reasonably in negotiations before you get under contract or after as those represented by a listing agent. Lawsuits are more commonly needed in FSBO situations because the seller typically doesn't have the training of a licensed agent such as on disclosure requirements or other legal requirements. Out of the FSBO dealings I have had, which are few, the one that closed ended up with the buyer discovering something covered up that was discovered long after the purchase where I advised them to speak to an attorney as the seller could have easily known about it and likely knew about it (mold). A mold inspection was performed at the property, which cost the buyer a few hundred extra, but that didn't reveal the mold that was being covered up by new flooring. On another occasion with a FSBO seller, the FSBO seller called me after the fact, upset about something which isn't unusual among agents and where if he had a listing agent, the listing agent could have told him so & calmed him down. The fact that he called & the manner of which he spoke was informed to my buyer, who naturally didn't feel at ease with an offer afterwards.
New Construction Search & Mobile Homes - #2 Reason to have 1 or More Separate Searches from Public Websites Going to Supplement MLS Search
Sometimes new construction sellers will be like FSBO sellers and not list with an agent. When that happens, it can be helpful to have a new construction search on a separate public website going for you. For instance, if you do a search of Hampton, Newport News, York County, & Poquoson:
And include the filter to "By owner & other" there are 13 mobile homes that pop up in the search that you won't find on MLS:
If you are considering mobile homes, which are a viable option in some cases, keep in mind the $650/month hoa fees in that neighborhood (which is not uncommon in trailer parks) primarily for lot rent & significant differences in depreciation/appreciation vs traditional construction as well as other elements I mention in my article:
MLS Search Issues: Acreage
Most buyers looking for homes aren't looking for something by acres in urban and suburban areas of SE VA (maximum or minimum), but for buyers where that's important, REIN MLS, the main MLS of Hampton Roads, has a big problem with that, & it's not the only MLS with that problem.
Some MLS searches are better than others. In REIN MLS, which is the worst of 5 MLS I have access to in SE VA regarding acreage accuracy, if you try to do a search based on acreage, you'll find it pretty ineffective. That's because acreage isn't a required field in data input sheets that agents/assistants fill out. Because so many agents don't really care that much about how important little details like that can be, you'll find that a high percentage of properties will get ruled out of your search automatically because at the moment, REIN's search doesn't default to the tax records if the agent was too lazy to input acreage.
At the moment, if I do an acreage smaller than any home will actually be on, I get less than half of the available homes for sale!
Here's an active search with no acreage requirement:
And here it is once I've added that requirement:
If looking for property exactly 0 acres, only 1 is listed:
Images courtesy Reinmls.mlsmatrix.com
1544/3122 yields 49%, so agents are failing to input acreage most of the time in REIN MLS. If I do that same search in Zillow, I won't have that problem, because Zillow defaults to tax records in the search when the agent is too lazy to input the information.
In SE VA, you'll find that other MLS have the same problem, though typically not as bad as in Hampton Roads. In sample searches I ran:
1194/1257 sold homes in CBRAR (based in the Middle Peninsula) had acreage input: 95%
3472/4122 sold homes in CVR (based in Richmond) had acreage input: 84%
1080/1089 (99.2%) sold homes in WBG MLS (Williamsburg, though secondary to REIN there) had acreage input. Out of those with 0 input under acreage, at least 17% were inaccurate, though not grossly if rounding to the nearest .1 acre. Out of the 6 that were inaccurate, the tax record acreage was .051, .065, .066, .069, .072, .207, though it's also possible that borders could have been shifted in a case or 2 though more likely agent/seller error.
Acreage can be used in Northern Neck MLS at a >99% accuracy. In Northern Neck MLS, which uses Navica instead of Matrix for the portal, 4645/4654 had something input for acreage (99.8%), & out of those 4654, 99.3% had a number range listed for acreage.
However, those search ranges are limited to the following:
1. 0 (Condo/Townhouse), <.5 acre, .5-.9 acre, 1-1.9 acres, 2-4.9 acres, 5-9.9 acres, 10-19.9 acres, 20-50 acres, 50+ acres.
Large Coverage Area Crossing Dozens of Counties/Cities & >5 MLS
Especially if they're not working with a good agent(s), those looking across dozens of cities/counties may want to consider a centralized single search.
Most buyers are only looking in one to a few cities/counties in my experience. REIN Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is the primary MLS of 15 cities/counties. I have access to 5 MLS, and as someone with that kind of access, who has also run the numbers for where there's crossover and which MLS are dominant in SE VA, I know the importance of multiple MLS as an agent. While some buyers are fine with getting multiple searches setup, including some duplicates between MLS, some buyers, especially ones covering 5 or more MLS, may want to create 1 consolidated and consistent search instead.
With CVR & CBRAR, thankfully there is a co-op, where you can get access to both MLS on a single search. That co-op alone covers another 17 cities/counties for primary MLS coverage.
Northern Neck is primary in 4 cities/counties/& Williamsburg MLS isn't primary anywhere, even in Williamsburg, in the sampling I ran, though if you're looking in Williamsburg and not looking in Williamsburg MLS, you're missing out on a lot of properties since it's a close 2nd to REIN there.
Working with Low-Quality Buyer's Agents
Some buyers are working with agents who are unwilling to create a very good search and just do something basic where the buyer isn't able to see the actual search (i.e. via screenshare or in person meeting). In those cases, where the agent isn't doing anything more than what you can do yourself, especially in areas where the active contingent phantom properties I mentioned above in the accuracy section aren't a problem, you may do better with your own search than with a bad agent's.
That said, very often when a buyer does their own search overlapping substantially with the searches I create for them, the buyer would have been better off asking me to revise criteria (either by expanding it or, less often, narrowing it) & simply never asked.
Sometimes buyers will want their agent to do "concierge mode" on a search, where the agent manually filters out properties once available before they reach the buyer. A buyer's agent's reluctance to do that should not be confused with a sign of a low quality agent. There are legitimate reasons for buyers to not do concierge mode, especially since some properties go under contract <12 hrs after hitting the market and since there will always be a delay if using "concierge mode" with an agent.
Working with an Agent Outside Their Primary Coverage Area
If you're working with an agent outside of their primary coverage area, they may not have access to the primary MLS of a city/county, and even if they do have access to the primary MLS, they may still have very limited coverage if the primary MLS has <50% of the total listings of a particular city/county (examples in SE VA).
If an agent doesn't have access to at least 95% of MLS listings, it may be time to use your own Zillow search instead of the agent's, relying on your own search primarily in cases where there isn't an active contingent problem like there is in REIN MLS (the main MLS of Hampton Roads) & in cases where there aren't many homes in flood zones (unlike Hampton Roads). It's still a good idea to have your agent set up a search, but you might consider only looking at it to more thoroughly review properties.
To check which MLS is important for a given city/county, I've created a spreadsheet for SE VA in this article.
If you're not in SE VA, & your agent doesn't have a list as I do (most don't), one way to check is to look at NAR's MLS map, noting # of MLS members and proximity to where you are looking, then go through a decent number (i.e. 50) of properties in a city/county you're considering and document which MLS each property is in.
If an agent is working outside of the primary coverage area, it's important to know:
How accessible will homes be? In some areas, contractor lockboxes are common, and in other areas electronic coded entry is common. In areas of electronic coded entry, some lockboxes are much more accessible than others to those agents outside of the MLS. In the case of REIN (Hampton Roads) MLS, which uses SUPRA electronic lockboxes, agents without access to REIN lockboxes won't have access to the home via the electronic lockbox. Conversely, in CVR MLS (Richmond), agents without direct access to the MLS have more options, including "Sentri Connect", to access the electronic lockboxes. While every listing agent should also have a contractor lockbox in addition to an electronic lockbox, like I do with my listings, many do not. Because of it, if there isn't an occupant who is able to let an out of town buyer in, and the listing agent isn't available, and the listing agent doesn't care enough to arrange for someone else to be available to let them in (& they likely won't if they don't care enough to use additional contractor lockboxes on a regular basis), buyers and buyers agents may be unable to access a property before it's too late.
Does the buyer's agent regularly work with the typical contract of the area where they are making an offer? If not, have they ever worked with that type of contract? Do they have any education to help them specifically with that contract? In my cases, I primarily use REIN offers. I've found that attempting REIN offers outside of REIN territory can end very badly for the buyer. A listing agent doesn't care enough in many cases to learn about offer templates that they are unfamiliar with, so if they get 2 offers, and one of those is a contract that they are familiar with, they may go with the more familiar contract even if the offer is better on the one that they're unfamiliar with; I've seen it happen. After I saw that, I took a 1-day class on VAR contracts, that were used in that territory, and have been using those ever since in VAR contract territory (i.e. Richmond & the Northern Neck). If I hadn't done that, I may not have been able to spot significant issues before, such as a buyer's agent trying to trick me into the seller cover moisture damage that they felt should be covered possibly because they didn't know the difference between a REIN offer and a VAR offer on the subject. Also with VAR offers, if you don't add a stipulation of the contract price being the required appraisal amount on a conventional loan, you are essentially writing a blank check for the buyer to pay above the appraised value if the appraisal comes in below the contract price. There's no blank to fill in either asking about it; you need to write out a provision for it in the contract.
Is the agent licensed in that state? Real estate agents must be licensed in the state where they do business. In some cases, agents have multiple licenses, but in many cases, they don't. If they primarily work in another state, have they done many closings in the state you're considering, and what kind of education to they have regarding the laws of the state?
Certain Integrated Features
There are certain integrates that fall very short vs MLS (i.e. flood zones vs most MLS in SE VA), but in some cases, there are integrated features not available directly on MLS that are helpful. Some helpful examples include:
Zillow Zestimates (great resource even if your agent says to run; see my article for more details on how to use them effectively & when not to rely on them)
Zillow walk score, transit score, & bike score (in "Neighborhood" section)
Great Schools ratings integrated (that said, it's also possible to integrate minimum ratings into an MLS search by listing the schools you'd like to include or avoid; some historic SE VA Great Schools Ratings are available here)
Trulia used to have the best crime map available, & I would refer buyers to that crime map as a supplement to a search on MLS. Trulia took it down, citing fair housing concerns. In my opinion, no matter what your protected class, it's beneficial to know about the crime of a neighborhood prior to purchasing, i.e. via Crimegrade & SpotCrime. Trulia's integrated map was better than both combined.
Other Specialized Searches Not Possible in MLS & Possible Only on Unique Public Websites You Probably Never Heard Of
Likewise, if you're a high volume high risk tolerant investor consider buying properties with no showings allowed (typically in $), you'll want to establish searches at various public auction websites rather than relying exclusively on MLS.
Some MLS Portals are Better than Others
Not all MLS searches are created equal. Some are much better than others. The advantage that public websites have is national appeal. The smaller the MLS, the higher the likelihood that navigating the portal will not be as user friendly or feature rich as various public websites. For instance, the MLS in Northern Neck doesn't have an integrated flood map or allow you to search by overall acreage. That said, in all 5 MLS that I have access to, I typically recommend setting up a search on MLS 1st.