Searching for homes for sale can feel intimidating — how do you know what you’re missing? There are an overwhelming number of places to find property listings in the East Bay Area, but if you focus on these 4 steps, you will be sure that nothing misses your radar.
Sunday Open House Listings
I have found that the best single source for Sunday Open House listings is the Sunday paper edition of the San Francisco Chronicle. There is a pull-out guide within the Real Estate section, where homes are listed by city, and within the city by price. The online version (SFGate.com) has some, but not all, of what you will see in the Sunday paper edition. Don’t waste your time canvassing individual realty offices or smaller local papers. Just get the Sunday Chronicle and you’re good to go.
Once you’ve found some houses of interest, you can also use the Open Houses as an opportunity to meet the hosting agents. Open Houses are frequently hosted by agents other than the listing agent — these agents are hoping to meet new clients, so don’t be shy about assessing the agent and asking for a business card if you feel they really know their stuff.
“We discovered Holly at a neighborhood Open House and felt immediately that she would become our agent, based on her forthrightness, enthusiasm, and intelligence. We never regretted that decision as she guided us unfailingly through the sale of our home and the purchase of another.”
— Carl M
2. The Thursday Broker’s Tour
When a property debuts on the market, it is held open for local Realtors on the weekly Thursday Broker’s Tour. But it’s also a good time for you, a Buyer, to get a jump start on new listings. You simply show up during the designated tour time, tell the hosting agent that your own agent sent you, and they will invite you inside to take a look around.
The Thursday Broker’s Tour includes properties from North Oakland through Berkeley, Albany, and Kensington. Properties North of University Avenue are generally open from 10:00 to 12:00, and properties South of University are generally open from 11:00 to 1:00. I copy all of my clients on my weekly tour sheet distribution, which includes snapshot details and hours for each listing.
3. Websites with Real Estate Listings
There are many online sites that allow you to create your own filters for a customized search of local listings. These sites draw from the Multiple Listings Service (MLS), but there is often a lag time between when a house is listed on the MLS and when it appears on publicly accessed sites. These are some of the public sites I recommend:
4. Instant Updates from the MLS
One of the many benefits of working with a local Realtor is that she will be able to program a search in the MLS that will instantly notify you the moment new listings hit the market. It’s a great way to cross-check your other sources, such as the Open Home Guide or the Broker’s Tour, for those houses that may have a limited showing schedule.
If you follow these 4 easy steps, you can rest easy knowing you won’t miss any new houses on the market. Once you have found your dream house, you will be ready for the process of evaluating what it’s really worth, and planning your strategy for making it your own.