There are tremendous resources available for finding appropriate properties to purchase. I will share the main resources I use as well as alternative methods for finding potential properties at reasonable costs.
Typically I will use a local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) webpage in conjunction with Zillow.com. Your local area will be different, but I have found an easily searchable MLS webpage, 1kbb.com, which allows me to access and sort a HUGE number of local listings. The MLS is normally pretty up to date, and I know that KBB’s site will generally remove listings that are Pending, so I never dream of purchasing a property that is already under contract. If you use an MLS website, make sure you find one that has access to a large number of available properties.
I use Zillow to quickly search a specific geographic area for properties that fit my desired characteristics. Sometimes houses located on the edge an MLS are not found in the MLS I search. Zillow combines MLS searches for a relatively seamless look at a geographic region. Zillow is cool because the site will show the sales price for recently sold houses as well as how long houses have been on the market. A few downsides to Zillow are the inability to search for ‘commercial’ properties which may or may not include duplexes; also, Zillow is not updated as quickly as the MLS, so if you find a property on Zillow, verify it is still on the market before you go hog wild preparing an offer. Lastly, the house values on Zillow do not correlate to actual appraiser’s work.
If I don’t find a house I want to pursue with the above resources, I will jump into some additional resources:
Homepath.com – This website contains all of the Fannie Mae owned houses. These houses have been repossessed by Fannie Mae, who underwrote the original mortgage. Most of these houses would be considered foreclosures. Homepath is really neat because you can save searches, so when a house fits your criteria, you receive an email to let you know. Sometimes homes on Homepath do not show up on the local MLS; however, they usually show up on Zillow. Please note: Fannie Mae only underwrites buildings up to 4 units, so you will not find anything more than 4 units.
Auction.com and Auctionzip.com – These sites have a lot of auctions, some of which are real estate auctions. Auction.com is almost solely devoted to real estate auctions. These can include really large buildings in large cities. Pretty cool to dream. Auctionzip.com has a variety of auctions, goods, automobiles, homes, etc. It’s good to kook through these pages if you’re interested in purchasing at auction.
Local auctioneers pages – I will cruise through the two or three largest auctioneers web pages to see if there are any interesting auctions in the near future.
Econohomes.com – I just found this page and was able to locate a potential property through their search engine. As I learn more about this site I’ll post more, but for the types of properties I purchase, this site shows a lot of potential.
The above resources provide me ample supply of potential properties therefore, I don’t normally look any further than those resources. There are other sources available including: your county’s sheriff’s sales; my county lists ‘underutilized’ properties; craigslist.org; newspapers, etc.