Editor’s Note: This is a Guest Article from Bailey Harris
Everyone likes a good bargain–especially when it comes to real estate. But if you want to get a good price, you need to be a savvy shopper. Many properties sell for thousands of dollars more than they should. You need to know what you’re looking for as well as where to look. Here are a few tips that will help you get a good deal on your next real estate purchase.
The National Association of Realtors provides free access to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) through their official website. This listing service will show you many of the homes that are for sale in your area. You may not be able to find foreclosures, new listings, or special listings on this site, but you could get an idea of what is for sale as well as asking prices.
Search Public Records
A lot of good real estate bargains can be overturned through a quick search of public records. You can watch the newspapers for public auctions, bank foreclosures, and tax lien sales. You may also be able to obtain a listing of upcoming sales from your county sheriff or auditor’s office. Other sources of information include listings provided by the Internal Revenue Service, Fannie Mae, and real estate brokers who handle REO (real estate owned) homes for local banks.
Search for Foreclosures Online
Many large mortgage companies, including CitiMortgage, Bank of America, GMAC, and Chase, provide lists of bank owned properties online. You can begin by searching each company’s website. You may also be able to locate foreclosure listings through sites like RealtyTrac and Foreclosures.com.
Look for Stale Properties
Sometimes the best bargains can be found in homes that have been for sale for a long time. “Stale properties” often come with a reduced listing price or an owner who is willing to negotiate to get out from under the property. Real estate agents can often tell you how long a property has been on the market. You can also locate this information through the Multiple Listing Service on Realtor.com or through public records searches at the local city hall, county courthouse, or county recorder’s office.
Learn to Recognize Renovation Potential
There are many different pieces of property that can be purchased at bargain prices simply because they are in need of a little renovation. The key is to recognize the difference between homes that need serious renovations versus those that need only superficial improvements. It is also important to consider and be realistic about your ability to make the necessary improvements yourself. If you have to pay someone to do the renovations for you, your bargain could quickly turn into a money pit.
Know the Value of Real Estate
The easiest way to spot a bargain is to first learn the value of real estate in your area. There are many free sites online that can help you with this. A few to try include Zillow.com, Yahoo! Real Estate, and Realtor.com. You can also speak to your local tax assessor to obtain information on recently sold properties.
Guest post from Bailey Harris. Bailey writes on insurance, real estate, and related topics for www.homeownersinsurance.org
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