Lethbridge MLS is a reference to the "Multiple Listing Service" which is owned and operated by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) . Basically, it is a database website to which real estate agents who are members of CREA can submit their property listings and then those listings are made available publicly online and also shared with all of the other members of CREA. All members of CREA are REALTORS and they keep control of access to the MLS data system.
In the early days of the MLS, the data was very tightly controlled by REALTORS. Listing information was not shared with the public and if a person wanted information on a MLS listing they needed to contact a REALTOR to get that information. This tight control of the information was eventually challenged in Canada and brought in front of the Federal Competition Bureau, the result being that access to the MLS is now much more relaxed and less restrictive than it once was.
There are many Provincially licensed real estate professionals who are not members of CREA and thus do not have inside access to the Lethbridge MLS. This would include many real estate brokers, agents, lethbridge property managers, and even appraisers. These professionals are all still governed by the sale laws and rules, they simply just do not pay membership fees and belong to CREA. The reasons that many of us choose to not belong to CREA is probably diverse. For myself, I was a member for nearly 20 years and paid fees to the Lethbridge Real Estate Board, the Alberta Real Estate Association, and the Canadian Real Estate Association. Eventually, I realized that myself and my cients were getting little to no benefit from this membership. In fact, there were times that the rules and guidelines of the MLS system and CREA were actually detrimental to my clients, to my business, and sometimes even in violation of the Alberta Real Estate Act. Historically, there have been several cases in which the rules and guidelines were forced to change because they were thus illegal and in violation of the Act, thus it is and was an organization that I had no interest in continuing to be a member of, or associated with.
So what is the Lethbridge MLS and do you need it?
Absolutely not. The Lethbridge MLS is basically just a sampling of a portion of the properties which are available for sale in our region. Not all properties listed by local Lethbridge REALTORS always appear there, sometimes the data that appears there is out dated, listings that have sold may remain displayed for days, new listings which are on the market sometimes don't show up there until days later. None of the listings by unlicenced for sale by owner marketing companies are there at all. None of the exclusive listings that are being marketed by any real estate brokerages appear there either. See why I think it is a waste of time? So in essence, it is just a portion of the available properties that may or may not be available for sale.