Historically, real estate has been an investment that hopeful homeowners and investors would research and discover through a broker or newspaper. Finding the ideal property would be a more involved journey of networking, back-and-forth phone calls and waiting for MLS properties to be printed in local or national publications. The emergence of the Internet has altered the entire landscape of home buying from property searching to signing the closing paperwork. There are numerous websites that list income-generating properties for sale, but determining which are the best is the real challenge. Below are numerous websites that not only list properties, but offer a multitude of listings to prospective buyers.
LoopNet is an extensive property service that specializes in commercial real estate. Its listings include properties in the multi-family, office, industrial, retail, land, agricultural, hotel, senior housing, sport, entertainment, distressed and auction categories. Specific criteria can be set to filter items like square footage, country, state, price range, lot size and building size, to name a few. Sales comps are available, showing how much similar properties have sold for in the same area. With the Premium Searcher service, users can gain access to data like property records, mortgage and lender history, as well as owner and tenant information. Moreover, property comparison reports, lease analysis reports and sale/lease analytics are included with paid membership.
Realtor.com is the leader in sales listings and is the official site of the National Association of Realtors. It displays listings from more than 800 Multiple Listing Services, and approximately 80% of all property listings on this site are updated every fifteen minutes while the remaining properties are updated every one to 24 hours. If visitors sign up for a free account, they receive alerts on new house listings and have the ability to save favorite searches and homes they've viewed.
Listingbook is a comprehensive granting buyers and sellers listing access parallel to what a real estate agent would have. Not only does it have complete, real-time MLS data, but it also contains public records, population demographics, employment statistics and cost-of-living comparisons. As if that wasn’t enough, Listingbook presents education statistics such as test scores, enrollment figures and staffing numbers in the specified area of interest. For instance, users can research the highest education level attained for a given area broken down on a percentage basis. With this extensive detail, the only drawbacks are is the service is not available in every market in the United States and access must be established by a local agent.
Believe it or not, Craigslist has more to offer than just jobs and arbitrary classified advertisements. It has countless property listings for investors from flip to rental opportunities. Unique to Craigslist is the ability to find properties that aren't on MLS, meaning they typically aren’t as heavily advertised and suggesting that few offers are being made. This means gives you an edge: spot potential deals before others do. Also, with a decent knowledge base of the real estate buying process and a solid understanding of a Sales and Purchase Agreement, effective negotiation can pay off even more because there are no commissions to be paid on either the buyer or seller side, leading to greater savings for both.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Besides strengthening the housing market and overall economy, Hud.gov promotes affordable home ownership. The agency provides access to an assortment of properties from departments such as HUD, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, IRS, Customs, and the Department of Agriculture Rural Development. Available free of charge, this comprehensive source features bank- to government-owned properties. Some areas of the country have more to offer than others, but collectively there can be excellent opportunities for securing a worthwhile deal. (See also Top US Cities for Home Buyers.)
Auction.com allows investors to research properties worldwide and place bids on them in an online auction. Accounts are free, and the website has online and live auctions that are free to the public. Some properties can be viewed before bidding while some can’t, so it’s best to understand the risks before registering for certain auctions. If you can put a fair valuation on a property, securing a property through this service can yield significant benefits if purchased below fair market value.
HomePath is the official foreclosure site run by the Federal National Mortgage Association, otherwise known as Fannie Mae. (See also Fannie Mae: What It Does And How It Operates.) It posts thousands of foreclosure listings throughout the United States. In addition to individual home sales, it also offers additional investment outlets, such as auction and traditional pool sales that allow investors to combine their funds for larger investment opportunities. These added services are a boon for those who may have more to invest.
The Bottom Line
Through the Internet, it's easy to find thousands and thousands of listings for single-family homes to sports complexes and hospitals. These same property types can stem from private offers, MLS, bank-owned listings, government-owned listings or even by auction. Finding income-generating properties is limitless, and most of the information can be found at no cost. Researching real estate properties on websites like HomePath, HUD, LoopNet or Craigslist can provide insight into whichever market you're considering investing in, while also exposing you to greater numbers of potential listings.