Looking for the "perfect real estate investment property?" Is there such a thing? Yes, but you have to find it first.
There are few investors who would argue the old adage that "every profitable investment begins with a bargain purchase." That's not to say that you can't buy at regular retail price and still make a profit. It just reduces that profit margin, or makes it more difficult to sustain.
With the goal of a buying a property below market value, where should a real estate investor look for properties?
1. Your own website. There are certainly value buys through wholesalers and other property marketers. However, getting to a distressed homeowner when they need you with an offer to help them avoid foreclosure or bankruptcy is the most direct route. If you buy directly from an owner, you won't be passing along some of your profits to someone in the middle. Put up a small free or inexpensive website with articles about how you help homeowners by buying their homes.
2. Ads and area signs. You've seen them. The "I buy homes" signs and classified ads. The reason you see them a lot is because they work. You must be consistent though. Run a classified ad continuously, and in the same area of the paper.
3. Foreclosure websites. There are a number of national foreclosure websites. You'll find listings placed there by lenders. They can be old, so check on new listings promptly.
4. Wholesalers and "flippers." Though we've placed someone in the middle, this is still a useful approach. Those who have excellent resources can locate properties that you may never find on your own, and their markup to flip them to you can still leave an excellent return on investment.
5. Realtors and MultiListing Service listings. Though the least lucrative for you, there can be bargains listed on the MLS. You might also create relationships with agents who list properties in your chosen locations. They may tell you when their desperate homeowner client is about to go into foreclosure.
Though you may find that you can hone one of these approaches to a fine art, keep them all on your list to avoid missing that perfect real estate investment.