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MLS Digging: Best Search Terms for Investors

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offersIs finding deals inside the MLS a waste of time?

Right now there seems to be more competition on listed property than ever before. In some markets houses listed on the MLS are getting 5 to 20 offers.   As a successful real estate investor I ask myself how in the world can I compete and find good deals on the MLS when everyone (including my grandma) is buying houses right now?

Whenever I ask myself this I always hear my grandma say, “Stop asking yourself rhetorical questions and start looking for deals!

Thanks, Grandma. 

The Best Know How to Find the Best!

Have you ever noticed that there are always 1 or 2 real estate investors in your local market who seem able to find hidden gems inside the MLS?  Are these people just lucky?  Or do these people know something you do not? 

I recently contacted some of the top real estate investors across the country to find out exactly what they are doing to pull out amazing deals consistently from the MLS.  These are deals that 99% of other real estate investors miss because they do not know what they are looking for. 

With the ever changing real estate market where deals are becoming harder to find (in some markets), real estate investors now need to acquire Sherlock Holmes like skills when searching the MLS.   

glassThe Search Begins

The first step in finding good MLS deals is to know where to search.   What I do is search inside both the public remarks section and inside the realtor remarks (private remarks).    These are the sections that realtors use to give a description about the property and leave their private remarks. You will need to be a licensed realtor with MLS access to search this or have a realtor search this for you. 

Make sure you have your search set for “contains”, this will make sure you are searching the whole remarks section and not just searching for “starts with” I have made this mistake in the past and became frustrated because nothing was coming up.  

Below is a list of keywords some of the TOP real estate investors are using to dig out MLS deals…

  • Motivated
  • Must Sell
  • Bring All Offers
  • Investor Special
  • Handy Man
  • TLC
  • Fixer
  • Repairs
  • As-Is
  • Estate
  • Probate
  • Personal rep/ representative
  • Trustee
  • No FHA
  • Divorce
  • Tenant
  • Vacant
  • Quit claim deed
  • Special warranty deed
  • Owner will carry
  • Lease option
  • Basement repairs
  • Foundation repairs
  • Structural repairs
  • Foundation issues
  • Engineers report
  • Short sale
  • Shortsale
  • Owner financing
  • Corporate owned

investigatorBuying houses from the MLS has become very competitive and in order to stay ahead of your competition you need to develop private investigator MLS searching skills.   

When searching the MLS for deals you will also need to be aware of other factors such as the area you are searching in.  When I search the MLS I make sure I am searching in target-rich areas -- meaning areas that have a lot of investor activity and also have steady cash sales.

Another tip is to search for property that has been on the market for over 90 days.  In many areas right now houses are selling in less than 60 days, but when houses sit on the market for 90 days, 120 days or longer the sellers start to get a little more anxious to sell.

With that said, get out and start finding hidden gems on the MLS.


Do It To It! Immediate Action Steps

Contact & Search – Contact a Local Realtor (or get MLS access yourself) and search the MLS public and private remarks section for the keywords listed above, plus whatever other deal criteria you have.

Evaluate Comps – Have your Realtor run comparable sales on all of the listings to find the ARV or use Freedomsoft or RealQuest to run your comps.  

Make Offers – Make offers on all of the houses your Realtor pulled for you.  Remember the saying, “5 offers a day keeps the bill collector away”.

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