The M.L.S. (Most Likely Spot) to Find Investment Property
There’s a tendency for people who are looking to become investors to make finding deals harder than it needs to be. They think the only way to find a great deal is to look for things that are “off market.”
For instance, they will:
Look up information on people who are in pre-foreclosure and approach them.
Try to get properties through sheriff sales or auctions.
Look for properties that are FSBO (For Sale By Owner).
Scour Craigslist, Zillow, and other online sites for hidden finds nobody else knows about.
Put up signs on roadways saying they “buy homes fast and for cash.” (Even though they can’t really even pull it off on their own. But that’s another story for another day.)
The point is, would-be investors spend more time trying to “find” deals than actually doing any solid deals.
The most likely spot for you to find a good investment property is on the MLS (Multiple Listing System). That’s the database that real estate agents use to market, research, and sell properties by cooperating with each other. (Actually, there are many MLS’s. Not just one. They tend to be locally based.)
Finding a deal off market is like trying to find a needle in a haystack that has been blown all over the place, while looking in the MLS is like looking through a well-organized, highly searchable haystack full of needles. All you have to do is figure out which needle is the best one for you to go after.
Pro tip: Part of the reason why so many people interested in investing think they need to look off market is because they feel like they’ll get a better deal without the “middleman” real estate agent involved. In theory, sure, that makes sense. But it’s often hard to find deals off market, and when you find a property worth going after, it can be even tougher to actually get the owner to give you a good deal on it, even if there’s no middleman (or woman). But if you have a real estate agent involved helping you dig deep into the MLS, they can often find properties that are being overlooked on the MLS and help you get it for a great price due to their knowledge and negotiating skills.