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Finding Bargains In Real Estate


by Jon Richards

1. Newspaper advertising. Study your local newspaper for properties which are listed by the owners, not real estate brokers. Sellers who avoid listing their properties with brokers are trying to avoid paying commissions. The seller – not the buyer, usually pays (Commissions.) Place ads in the “Real Estate Wanted” columns of your local and larger city newspapers such as the Chronicle. This method suggested by Robert Allen in his book No Money Down can be very effective. You will probably receive calls from both brokers and owners selling direct.

2. Real Estate Brokers. The chances are that you’ll begin your serious search by consulting a real estate broker or agent. She or he not only has a large bank of information on what types of property are available, where, and at what price, but they are also familiar with the marker in general. They know the details of zoning and highway building plans. A broker can arrange appointments for you to see the type of building you want, inspect those building with you, give you information on likely costs of maintenance, taxes, repairs, and other matters. On the other hand, the broker is working for the seller, since the seller pays the commission, and will sometimes go to extremes to close a deal.

3. Multiple Listing Services. Each Real Estate Board puts out a weekly book of all the homes its board members have listed for sale. The book is generally only circulated to other agents, and should not be given to the public. Some companies will simply not let you, the investor, see the book. Others are less strict and will even let you take the book home. It just depends on the flexibility of the agent you are working with. The problem with multiple listing book is that all the agents have looked over the offerings and any that look good have been sold to their clients, bought buy the agents themselves, or are not very good investments. I have found that the best use of the MLS book is to look at the expired listings that have not sold, and then contact the listing agent, who is about to lose the listing, and see if you can’t get him on your side in contacting the seller.

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