Property seekers use real estate agents because they can access the multiple listing service.
With so many homes for sale, it is important to search for property using specific criteria to narrow down the number of possible listings. Properties for sale include new homes, resale homes, homes for sale by owner and homes in foreclosure. The Internet provides a useful way to research homes for sale in a particular city, but there are other resources available to potential homebuyers.
The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a database that includes all homes currently for sale by real estate professionals. Access to the MLS is only available to real estate agents, which is one of the reasons many homebuyers utilize agents. When using a real estate agent to search for property, the homebuyer communicates what they are looking for in a home, and the real estate agent prints out properties from the MLS that match the given criteria.
Some homebuyers are looking specifically for new home builders or new homes that are available for immediate move-in. Websites that provide nationwide listings of new homes for sale include:
There are also websites that tailor to a specific regional market, such as FloridaGuide.com, which provides information about new and resale home listings.
Many online websites allow potential homebuyers to search for pre-owned homes for sale in a particular city. The search can be narrowed down by price range, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms and other criteria.
REALTOR.com grants users access to an extensive listing of millions of homes across the nation. An individual home listing includes a detailed property listing, a list of key features and usually at least one photo. A street map showing where the property is listed and school information are also provided.
ForSaleByOwner.com offers property descriptions, lists of amenities, photos and owner contact information.
Zillow.com has a more extensive search criteria and displays relevant homes on an aerial or street map. The search criteria include listing type (e.g., new construction, for sale by owner and foreclosures), year built, house size in square feet and lot size in square feet.
With the slumping economy, many more homes are in foreclosure, and buying a foreclosed home is an option for homebuyers looking for a home priced below market value. Certain websites, as well as many federal agencies, provide lists of foreclosed homes for sale. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website provides links to homes for sale that were recovered in foreclosure from the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies. These HUD homes are available for purchase by the general public.
Local newspapers and free home guides were considered the main source of information about homes for sale prior to the Internet, and they are still used to search for property. NewHomeGuide.com publishes print guides for certain states that are targeted at potential homebuyers who are moving in from out-of-state. These guides can be ordered online for free, but there is a charge for shipping. United Country Real Estate is another print publication that publishes a listing of rural properties for sale nationwide.