I’ve been looking at MLS listings well before we decided to buy a house. Once we decided to buy, though, my search frequency increased exponentially. I starting looking at the site religiously. Like, religiously. Often several times a day…
MLS (or realtor.ca) is the best place to look for houses. Since listing on this site will attract thousands of potential buyers, almost every seller posts their home here.
It looks like this:
One thing I didn’t know before starting this process was that what realtors see is different from what the general public sees. They have access to information like the name of the sellers, previous sale history (this is very key!) and other details (like property taxes). They also see information as it is updated into the system, unlike the public site which takes approximately 24 hours to update. If you have a realtor, they can send you their version of the listing, which will give you all this key information!
The only thing I didn’t like about the site – other than it’s usually very sluggish and has trouble loading – is that when a property is sold, the listing stays on the site for several days. So sometimes you get excited about a house and find out that the property has already sold.
The site is fairly straight-forward, so I don’t really have any specific search suggestions, except to use the “listed since” filter. This is great for crazy people like me who look every day (or more) and want to see what’s new.
One feature to possibly avoid is the “building type” filter because I found that some of the houses were mis-categorized. I had missed a couple of houses because of this mis-categorization. Luckily my crazy and obsessive searching helped me find them!
Another place to look for houses is at is the MASH. The site tracks new listings (and offers great comments on them), price increases/decreases and provides some history on the house if it’s a flip or has been sold in the last year. It’s also hilarious and witty.