I have only one under my bet, and another I am working, but here is what worked for me. I called agents who represent banks & HUD properties. One actually returned my call. I explained what I am doing (flipping), and that I have the ability to write a cash offer.
The agent gave me a five minute education that revealed two things.
Houses become harder to sell & finance after they sit a while - causing sales to fall through.
The longer a house sits, the better the deal. - Cconsequentially when a
Finishing. Accidentally posted.
When the deal falls through the house gets discounted.
I kept talking with the realtor until an already good deal fell through. I heard before the deal hit the MLS, and had an offer ready when it hit. I got the house before anybody else knew it was re-listed. My offer was in close of business the day the listing hit the MLS.
If you are looking to acquire a property to flip in a competitive market and are relying on the MLS to find deals, in my opinion you need a quality agent.
Sit down with an agent that is a market expert and devise a plan with him or her. It works with my clients up here in CT. The biggest thing with newer investors is they are looking at a million different strategies and types of properties all at once rather than picking a strategy, sticking to it, and being patient.
Every investor goes through said phase, but typically the best deals are found when things slow down and you set criteria as far as what you are looking for and most importantly you don't waver from that criteria just to land a deal.
Don't get discouraged. Its a numbers game. The more properties you see the more you'll be able t see the things that a contractor will tell you about. With experience comes knowledge and you will be able to make your decisions faster too.
Also I have experienced where realtors will list a property they already have a buyer for, just to collect a prospect list for future calls. Stick with it and you find your deal.