Your Realtor will use the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database. That's the easiest and most organized inventory for homes for sale. Nearly all the agents in the Capital Region are members, so they put their inventory on the database within 72hours of signing the papers. Then, every member of the MLS has access to it. Immediately.
If you agent has established a relationship with you, they are most likely going to set up an account that will find the house that you've described and have it automatically emailed to you. Immediately.
This is the most up-to-date method going. Very important in a fast paced market, especially when a house just comes on that is well priced!
The rest is old fashioned, or not quite as efficient:
Harmon Homes... or other magazines that Realtors pay to advertise their homes in. Therefore it is somewhat limited and "older". Doesn't have ALL the homes for sale, and can often feature houses that you already know about.
Times Union, Troy Record, Schenectady Gazette... local newspapers... When you read an ad in the newspaper it is about a house that was listed at least a few days ago... Times Union.com has an arrangement with MLS, so the information is almost always uploaded to them each evening... So, theoretically the house was signed in today... the info uploaded to MLS today... it will be on the Times Union website tomorrow. Some of the papers make you pay to look at their sites.
Yard signs... like the old days you drive around and find signs in neighborhoods that you like. If you have a certain neighborhood you want you are keeping your eyes peeled! But, don't forget, some homeowners don't want a sign! (Yeah, I know... baffles me too, but that's the way it is sometimes!) And some neighborhoods actually forbid yard signs.
Craig's Litst... Realtor.com... Zillow... Linkdin... etc. All these sites are nice, but remember they only have houses that were submitted by the Realtor or the owner! Somewhat limited and often difficult to navigate.
For Sale By Owner.. or "Fisbos" as they are called. You're driving around and you see the sign, or you go onto their website.
Word of mouth... tell EVERYONE you're looking for a house! You know what they'll do? They like you! They'll keep their eyes and ears open and tell you about something they saw!
Bottom line is the info about house to buy is everywhere. Talk to your Realtor about how they are going to find one for you. Be certain that every resource is going to be used. when you find out about a house that your Realtor hasn't mentioned... call him/her. Put them to work. (this includes FSBOs too!)
We'll talk more about what to do when you find a For Sale By Owner later.
I have a seminar to go to today, so I'll see ya tomorrow!
Keep on truckin!