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Small Cabin Forum / Properties / Property search resources? Tips on searching?
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# Posted: 24 Jan 2017 19:39

I have been looking at properties on and realtors websites in the area I'm interested in buying, but are there resources I'm missing? Any other ideas, tips, or advice on finding properties?

# Posted: 24 Jan 2017 20:20

Have you looked at properties that have gone up for back taxes? I have seen several properties that I would have liked to purchase, come up. Around here they do the auctions late summer, early fall. As with anything its research research research though. Good Luck.

# Posted: 24 Jan 2017 20:27

When looking for property, I looked on landwatch and zillow for the most part. I also kept an eye out on Craigslist. I think all the properties that I looked at was on Landwatch though. I had saved searches on the websites so it was easy to check everyday. If you are able to drive around the area you are interested in, you may get lucky as well. Alot of small land only properties are sold by owner and may not be advertised online. What area are you looking at as some people may know some local resources as well.

# Posted: 24 Jan 2017 21:16

One way is if you live close to where you want to buy take a look around the area. If you find an old farmstead or a piece of land do the research and find the land owner and ask if he would be interested in selling. In your state or county may have an online plot book/GIS with ownership this would make it easy.

The very first piece of land I bought I bought it just like I described. I went and asked him after I found what I was looking for. You then tell the person your intentions of what you plan to do with the land and be honest and up front. The price can be better doing business as well.

# Posted: 25 Jan 2017 08:21

Craig, it would be helpful to us if you mentioned what your target area is, you'll likely get more helpful feedback and options for your search. This forum has people from all over the world on it, so....

Mike 870
# Posted: 25 Jan 2017 09:50

I ultimately found my property via a local realtor that was not on any of the larger sites like landwatch or the MLS. Another thing that helps is getting out on the ground and looking at the area. You will see signs from realtors you never knew about, private sale signs with only a phone number etc etc. Zillow and Craigslist are nice too.

# Posted: 29 Jan 2017 13:29

Thanks for starting this thread, I to am in thew same situation looking for the best resources to find that Gem out there. This spring I plan to head to the area I am interested in outside of North Bay, Ontario.

I going to go see if I can find a couple of well connected real estate folks who might be able to keep an eye out. No super rush here. I interested to see what others have to say about there searches.

# Posted: 24 Jun 2017 23:04

I am interested in Eastern Washington state and Idaho.

# Posted: 20 Jan 2018 04:54

These replies are going to me useful for me too.

# Posted: 28 May 2020 07:10

It is difficult buying property from a distance.
Don't value property in the same manner as you would at your permanent location.
I purchased property 7 hours from my home and I overpaid.
As did my out-of-state neighbors.
Just because it seems like a bargain you still may be overpaying.

# Posted: 28 May 2020 08:32 - Edited by: jhp

I tried to work with several realtors covering a few different counties, and none of them were really willing to do any serious work. There just wasn't any money in it for them if they could make 5x or more money on a normal residential house.

Find a realtor site that allows you to setup search criteria and email you an alert when something new is listed in the MLS. Zillow lets you basically draw a big box around an area and feed it other criteria (land vs residential, so many acres, etc) and will email you as soon as something new is posted. If I remember I had Zillow, RedFin and one other all set up doing the same set of alerts for me.

Then find a smaller local realty company around the area that you are looking and see if their website has a "hot sheet" which is all the new listings and sold listings they were tracking every day. If they don't, call up the realty office and explain what you're doing and ask if you can get this emailed to you. If they know what you're trying to do and you're not having them do a bunch of work yet they will probably be happy to help you out. This ultimately gave me the best hits on new properties as sometimes their hot sheet would pick up things listed that morning that would not hit the general MLS sites like Zillow for another day or two.

Get on the county websites for the locations you're interested in, and get very familiar with how to use their sites to search property information. There might be property info showing property lines, utilities, roads, easments. There might be recent aerial photography, information on well data, and more.

Check out Google Maps/Earth, Bing Maps, and others to see who has the most recent aeiral photos for the area you are interested in.

Get on the USDA Web Soil Survey site here:

...and learn how to use it. Once you figure it out it takes about 30 seconds to drill down to an area and it will tell you exactly what the soil is and what you can expect for water and drainage.

Every morning I would check my emails, check the hotsheet. Anything interesting enough I would look at aerials which would quickly rule out a lot of properties due to proximity to neighbors, towns, roads or whatever.

Anything that passed that test, I would check the soil data and usually find out that it was not buildable or would be a PITA.

Anything that passed that test, I would go on the county site and find anything else I can.

FWIW, I found the soil data to be crazy accurate. If it told me it was going to be a swamp it was. That helped me save a lot of time of driving to properties to see for myself.

I casually looked for property this way for about three years and really seriously for one more. It got to just be a daily 10 minute routine but after a few weeks I could tell you way more than any realtor could about nearly any of the properties in the area.

Good luck.

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