In our grandparent's day, the best option for finding homes for sale was driving around the area you were interested in to look for real estate signs. This can still be a very useful method of finding diamonds in the rough that may not be heavily advertised or those that may be for sale by owner. Nonetheless, there are downsides to this method such as wasted time and spending excess money on gas.
To find available real estate without leaving your home, you can check your local newspaper or order papers in the areas you are interested. With the internet, this process is made even easier. You can search the area's newspapers online as they often have a section just for real estate. You might want to search real estate broker websites as well, since most of them offer home search features online.
Even if you want to do the above yourself, it is still highly advisable to get an exclusive buyer's agent to help you. These agents serve only you in finding the best property for your individual needs. They do not work for sellers at all, which means they will fully disclose anything wrong with a property to you, even if it hurts the sale! This is opposed to typical agents and companies who work with both buyers and sellers. By exclusively working with buying clients, they are held to the utmost standards and are committed to providing a service that is solely in their client's best interest, no one else's.
Working with this type of agent can also open up a whole new set of listings that may be difficult for you to find yourself, foreclosures and short sales. These homes are typically homes about to be foreclosed on with motivated sellers looking not to have a big negative on their credit, or they can be bank owned properties that can be bought at a steep discount.
It is not difficult to find properties today, and by knowing whom to go to for help, you can have the keys to your dream home in your hands a lot faster than you ever thought possible!