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I am looking for a second home near the beach. I checked Zillow but feel that it is not showing enough listed on unlisted properties that are on the market. I am trying to avoid going through a realtor to access MLS. Is there a free powerful search engine for this that covers all or most of the market?
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Find a house that is for sale and type its address into Google. That should bring up a number of listing services.
Déjà Vu is not a prediction
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The problem is, most realtors avoid like the plague listing with MLS if they can avoid it. They make much more money if they sell the property themselves and listing it with MLS means that other brokers have a chance at selling it. Sometimes, they'll list it on their corporate web site before listing it with MLS; you could look for some realtors in the area near the beach and try their sites. Zillow is actually a pretty good bet because it does include "for sale by owner" listings which won't be on MLS.
Other than that, driving around the streets looking for "for sale" signs gets you opportunities that aren't being listed with MLS OR Zillow.
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As far as I know realtor.com covers entire MLS database and updates several times per day. At least it did 3 years back when I was looking for a house and had a chance to compare it to what my agent was finding. Frequently, I've seen the listing before my agent did. Of course, some details are missing, notably association fees, but 95% of information is there.
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If you're in an area they service, Redfin works flawlessly.
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Usually I've found everything between:
(with the exception of sales to investors that happen privately before the general public knows a property is for sale)
But it does vary by location.
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In my area http://www.johnlscott.com
is the best with Redfin as the runner up, once in a while I find something good on Craiglist that isn't posted elsewhere. I have yet to see something that wasn't on one of those three.
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Or just drive around the neighborhood you want and talk to the neighbors. Tell them you are looking to buy in this area and see if they know anyone thinking about selling. I'd also befriend the local hotshot realtors as they will know about stuff going on the MLS before it shows up to the general public.
Side note, but I have a 2nd beach home. After the "newness" wore off and realized it was a luxury we didn't need to use every weekend, we decided to turn it into a summer rental property and mainly treat it as an investment property these days, while using it for ourselves pre & post summer season. I don't want to derail the thread, but 2nd home ownership has it's complications. Had we not been able to rent it out, I'd probably have some buyer's remorse.
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