I read in the beginner book on this site that when you search realtor.com you are actually searching the MLS. But I've also read that realtor.com doesn't show the listings as fast as the MLS. I have also read that it isn't a complete listing of the MLS. Is it even worth using? Or will you miss out on good deals because it is updated too slowly?
Also, what about redfin or realtytrac?
Basically what I'm looking for is a recommendation on how to efficiently get all MLS listings in real time. A pay site is ok with me if it cuts down on the time.
I have been a licensed Realtor for a while - that is the best way to get to deals fast on the MLS. Other than this - realtor.com and zillow.com seem to keep pretty up to date on the MLS listings.
I do agree partly with @Account Closed and his answer in that the MLS is the better way. I do not really think trulia or zillow are as updated as they should be. Those two sites will cause problems if you are a buyer because of their slow to update systems.
@Geoff Miller - If you plan to buy or sell on the MLS, I advise you to go ahead and become a Realtor. Yes, Realtor.com gets it's info from the MLS, and yes there may be a time delay of a day or two. Also, there's much more detailed info on the MLS. For example, on my MLS I can search for all listed houses that are vacant. Or I can do a key-word search for terms such as "motivated".
Anyway, the best deals on the MLS are not the ones that you have to jump onto quickly though.
No, you are not searching the MLS when you use realtor.com, Zillow, Redfin or any publicly accessible website with listings on it. Even if a local MLS operates a public-facing website, that is not the same as searching the MLS. The only way to truly search an MLS is to become a member of the MLS, and to do that, you'd need to get your real estate license or become an affiliate member by being, for example, an appraiser.
No third-party listing site has every home in the MLS, and the MLS doesn't have every home for sale in the market (they exclude FSBOs, for the most part, and are often missing new construction homes. Some agents are also starting to "pre-market" homes outside of the MLS.)
Disclosure: former real estate broker now working at Zillow
Bryan, can you expound upon the statement where you said "Anyway, the best deals on the MLS are not the ones that you have to jump onto quickly though."?
If becoming a realtor right now is out of the question, which third party site would you recommend as a first-look search option? Again, I don't mind paying if it increases efficiency.
@Geoff Miller We picked up a lot of deals through the MLS through the years because I set up searches that would email me as soon as they posted, and my realtor was really good about making time for us to go see it that day. That being said, I didn't use my realtor's company website- it was always behind in posting new properties compared to one of their competitor's. You might try searching a few of your local real estate website's- see if you can sort by "date listed" and compare to each other. Then see if it will let you set up a profile where you can save searches so it will email you quickly when new houses are added.
@Geoff Miller I've bought several good deals on the MLS. But I find that the better deals are found in those that have been on the market for a while for whatever reason. The "hot" deals where you have to jump quickly - well there are usually others jumping quickly too, and you get into a bidding war. I don't even waste my time with these.
If you have the money to pay for some third-party something, why not use that money to become a Realtor instead?