How to spot a great deal in MLS real estate listings

Which Listing Status Should You Use - ARMLS BlogSearching the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) can feel overwhelming with so many homes for sale to sift through. But treasures exist for buyers able to recognize a great deal among the listings. Spotting under-priced properties or hidden gems in the MLS takes time and diligence—but helps you uncover homes with excellent value. Here are the top tips for using MLS data to identify fantastic deals.

Search price reductions  

Regularly run an MLS search filtered to show only homes with recent price reductions. Sellers lower prices because they are motivated. Listings with multiple reductions indicate the seller is willing to negotiate. A price drop that brings an overpriced home into a fair market value range creates opportunity. Price per square foot helps benchmark value. Calculate it for homes that interest you, and compare it to averages for the neighborhood. Listings well below the norm could indicate underpricing. Just ensure the square footage looks accurate—MLS data can be incorrect. Check This Out nystatemls.

Look for overlooked listings

Search MLS filters like “no photo,” “for sale by owner,” or “properties without open houses.” Some deals fly under the radar because sellers didn’t hire a top agent or market the listing well. Be willing to visit homes without photos to uncover a possible diamond in the rough.  Thoroughly explore potential neighborhoods instead of just viewing homes online. Look for listings on less-traveled streets that may have lingered due to lower visibility. Physical scouting reveals promising homes you might have otherwise missed.

 Read the remarks

MLS listing remarks contain insider notes from the listing agent not visible to buyers. Remarks may explain why a listing is priced lower than expected, disclose needed updates, or reveal seller motivations. Scrutinize remarks for clues pointing to potential value. Ask your agent to call listing agents of homes that interest you, especially those with extended days on the market.  Are they relocating on a deadline or already purchased another home? 

Ensure accurate square footage

MLS data isn’t always correct. If a home seems significantly under-priced for its listed square footage validates the numbers. Online tax records, measured floor plans, or appraisal documents can provide real square footage.

Calculate the price per bedroom

Divide the list price by the number of bedrooms. Compare to other neighborhoods homes. Listings well below the average price per bedroom warrant a closer review.

Watch for foreclosure pricing

Check if listings are bank-owned foreclosures being sold as-is. Banks often underprice foreclosures by listing slightly below market value to liquidate quickly. Factor in repair costs, but a foreclosure could mean huge savings. Walk through homes in person before bidding, even if you’ve viewed virtual tours. Confirm the listing photos match reality. Inaccurate marketing materials can hide issues and overinflate bad listings. 

Crunch the rental income numbers 

If viewing investment properties, analyze expected rental income, vacancy rates, expenses, taxes, etc. Compare to the list price. Run the numbers to see if a listing presents strong cash flow potential below its true rental value.