Six ways to do-it-yourself home search

Reader Question: We want to try a do-it-yourself home search, as we have been out-bid twice already. Agents say few homes are coming on the market, which is a big reason for the high prices. Do you have any suggestions about how we could find a home on our own?

Monty’s Answer: Here is what USA Today says about the unusual market. The simple answer is to emulate in many ways what real estate agents do to find homes for sale. Assuming you are seeking a single-family home, below are some tasks you can undertake to try to discover a home before it hits the market. If you have the time and are willing to put in considerable effort, it could work. You should have an up-to-date pre-approval letter. Here is a link to the pre-approval process .

1. Drive neighborhoods.

a.) Look in neighborhoods that are in your price range.

b.) Bring a pad of large post-it notes along.

c.) When you spot a home that looks appealing, stop.

d.) Ring the doorbell or knock.

e.) When the door opens, Have a big smile on your face and say, “Hi, I’m <your name>, We want to buy a home in this neighborhood. Do you                      know of anyone thinking of selling?” If no one comes to the door, stick a note with the same message on the door with your telephone                              number.

2. Review all your friends and acquaintances: You are looking for people you know that are more likely than others to have a lead for you. For example, a mail carrier knows which homes on the route are vacant. A worker in a nursing home or a lawn care company sees turnover. Call them to see if they will keep an eye out for you. Tell everyone you know. Spread the word on social media.

3. Call FSBO ads: Here are sellers that have announced. Act quickly if they have a home that may fit. While there are some drawbacks to this approach, it is for sure they will talk to you. You can find them on many websites and social media.

4. Real estate agents: – If you have a friend that is a real estate agent or one you are working with, they know which listings are expiring unsold. They may be willing to share this information. The trick here is understanding why the home is not selling, but nothing ventured – nothing gained.

5. Public records: – Check foreclosure sale notices at the courthouse or the municipality’s website. You cannot always view the interior before the sale, but you can often get a good idea of what you may face just standing in front of it. Divorce actions and death notices often signal a home coming up for sale.

6. Newspapers: – Reading a newspaper often reveals the goings-on in the area. Business openings, or closures, may signal the relocation of employees you know at such companies. The classified section often lists for-sale-by-owner properties. Some online websites offer free home-wanted ads.

The do-it-yourself home search can work. But, continue to shop the way you have been if you undertake this task, and realize that if you find a seller, they likely know how the current market is behaving.