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Is the MLS listings the only source realtors use?

I appreciate the convenience of doing a search with certain criteria on MLS to find what homes are on the market but is that the only way realtors find homes for their buyers? If so then I feel I'll be wasting  that persons time. I'm searching for that 'fixer-uper' that is in a good neighborhood that is priced much less than the surrounding homes. That case allows one to fix it up with improvements & yield a profit... not just having the best house in a junk neighborhood. Doing a search of normal listings will yield a house in an area of other like-priced houses in a neighborhood that will not reward the time & monies put into that house. I would think professional realtors would have other sources available for those 'not-move-in-ready' properties.  Am I wrong?
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October 30 2013 - Dallas
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Thank you all... I understand all the points made. I can search MLS listings just like a realtor can so I wouldn't absorb their valuable time. I can check out Zillow in hopes to find properties that have been listed for a long time (when the Zillow listings have been kept current & not already sold). I'll just need to learn who the 'big-guns' are in the foreclosure market & approach them to resell to me a fixer-upper in an area worth investing in. Thanks again.
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October 31 2013
You want what about 100 people in your area want . There are so many people flipping houses now a days . Pick a area find either who handles all the foreclosures for that area or find the top agent for that area and let them know you are serious . I have buyers come to me all time that want houses for half of what the are worth .. You have to shop smart and be for real . If you have a good agent listen to what they tell you .
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October 31 2013
I don't know about the Dallas market, but here in Seattle, there's not a single residential property that isn't under the watchful eye of at least fifty agents - agents looking to list the property, to pocket-list it, to sell it or "liberate" it to developers or contractors . . . in addition, the homeowners are likely to be doorknocked and receive solicitation letters a few times a year.
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October 31 2013
Profile picture for Dunes ..
Just a Non-Agent opinion/take ;)

I think Whit hit on some points of Reality and if you are going to be successful "searching for that 'fixer-uper' that is in a good neighborhood that is priced much less than the surrounding homes" you'll need to assume the role of "turning over rocks" finding properties that meet your criteria AND finding an Agent/Agency who sees the value in "turning over rocks" for a client such as yourself.

It's also my opinion that IF you find that Agent then you're talking Value in having that Agent/Agency and paying Top Dollar for their services...
Personally I do not care what others definition of "Professional" is.. to me it means they provide service that has value to me in accomplishing what I have set out to achieve..whether it's a haircut, a pleasant meal or "turning over rocks" to find the property I wish to find
Top Dollar for Top Service is just fine but Top Dollar for a bunch of yadda about Top Service is silly

The Real Estate Industry isn't special nor imo is it really any worse than any other Industry or Profession...ya got jerks, bsers, hobby pros, idiots and you've got people who take it seriously, take pride in their abilities, work ethics and giving good/excellent service for the price/compensation they wish to receive
People are people no matter what line of work they are in

When you find that Agent that believes in ""turning over rocks" then treasure them, acknowledge their value and don't hesitate to pay the top dollar they deserve...especially if you follow the road you have said you wish to follow "searching for that 'fixer-uper' that is in a good neighborhood that is priced much less than the surrounding homes"

That being said....
I'd suggest that at this point one of your most valuable tools will be your time and effort...drive your market area of choice, walk your area of choice, talk to people in your area of choice, spend as much time as possible in your area of choice. You see that beat up house surrounded by nice homes then do your research..
You figure out your options, potential...know your options and potential
Become your expert on costs and be a real expert not some guesstimate producing fantasy game player

Learn to use Public Records and learn what tools are available or not available in the State/County or City you are working
Can I get Public Records off the internet?..
Free Public Records Directory
Do I need to go to the courthouse or the or the or call or

Then you'll know/understand/appreciate the value of that agent who turns over rocks for you and the value to you of those who do not
The smoke won't be so thick ;)

Anyway the best of luck to you and I sincerely hope you are able to find that agent that has value to you cause they exist..ya just gotta turn over some rocks
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October 31 2013
It all depends on your realtor, talk to several and find out which one will be willing to go the extra mile for you on this one.
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October 31 2013
I would think professional realtors would have other sources available for those 'not-move-in-ready' properties.  Am I wrong?

Yes. News flash - A Realtors goal is to list a $5.0M condo and sell it, not to research multiple sources for fixer uppers for the mass public. That's just reality. I know some Realtors who would not touch a listing under $1.0M.

Now, buying a fixer IS a great idea, but YOU just have to do the leg work, and don't expect every Realtor to be falling over you to help you find it.

I know plenty of non-real estate pros who researched auctioned properties, found financing, fixed them up and sold them - all with little to no help from a Realtor. You can do the same.

Good luck.
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October 31 2013
Since I farm a specific area I do get an occasional heads up on a property not yet listed. The last one I saw was a pending divorce and they just wanted out. However, there were 2 issues; the house was a total dump (needing a ton of repairs and maintenance) and they had a high loan balance. I declined the listing and it went into foreclosure.
Another one popped up and I bought it myself. No commissions, no other broker involved.
You just need to network and find them yourself.
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October 31 2013
A buyer's agent that brings real value to their client should look to a number of sources.

In today's market MLS remains clearly the source of highest value.  But a buyer's agent truly earns their stripes when they're turning over rocks for their clients.

IMO, one of the great challenges for agents under the still relatively new agency laws is fully grasping and absorbing the wearing and meaning of these two totally different hats: Buyer rep vs. Seller rep.

While I think we all "get it" it's often tough to stay fully in the moment on it.  Wasn't that long ago that all agents represented the Seller -- all the time, completely, and in every transaction.  I think many of still lose sight that buyer rep means scouting for the buyer.  Bringing real value to the buyer.  All of today's buyers have 100% access to the data on MLS (also a relatively new concept).  If all we do is regurgitate MLS data, we will end up going the way of the type writer.

On a whole other note, I think agents and brokers need to prepare for a day when MLS will no longer be the clear #1 source for sales and availability data. 
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October 31 2013
Yes, I think you are pretty much wrong. MLS is the system of choice for all Realtors I know since it is very powerful in what it can do, what it can search for and how it can be made to do what the agent wants - providing they know how to use it to it's max ability. All MLS systems are different to some degree, but all do pretty much the same thing.

When you say you want to compare a home to the ones around it by looking at the values of the homes nearby. The MLS does not really do that and that is because there is no "REAL" way to value the other homes around it. To think that a site that show you the guessed values of nearby homes is to assume those values are correct and really -- HOW COULD THEY BE? So you are basically being fooled if you think they are correct.


tim
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October 31 2013
Now that the market has heated up, there's no shortage of buyers for fixers. Since most real estate agents believe in market exposure, we are quite likely to help that owner get the property on the market than we are to shop it to our database. Of those agents who would be more likely to "pocket list," you really have to be a priority for them, which generally means that you've bought something from them before.

All the best,
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October 31 2013
Many real estate agents stop their search with the retail MLS market because they typically are able to satisfy a buyer's needs by using that method and it's by far the easiest.  Sometimes you can find a real estate agent who is more creative in their search.  There is no reason they can't send out some letters for you to a series of homes in a neighborhood you are targeting.  Alternatively, they can keep an eye on Craigslist for you or they could potentially even help you purchase a home at a foreclosure auction.

All of this is not to say there are real "deals" available in the retail market place.  One of the best ways to get a good deal is to not try to compete on the same things as everyone else does.  Many buyers have an idea that short sales and bank owned properties are good deals.  Sometimes this is true but often it's not and the whole experience ends in frustration.

Instead look at things that others are NOT looking at.  In most cases, people are not looking at a dated property that has been sitting on the market for 6 months without a price drop. 
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October 30 2013
 
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