Have cash on hand and be prepared to act quickly if you're in the market for dirt cheap houses. They sell fast if they don't have major flaws, so you need to be aware of when they come on the market. Even flawed houses sell quickly if they're on prime land. There are a number of online tools available to keep you current, but you should also be prepared to do some physical legwork to find the best deals.
Set up free accounts with websites that will alert you when a property becomes available. Enter your specifications at sites like Realtor.com and Oodle.com to receive emails when properties in your price range come on the market.
Pay for foreclosure alerts at a website like RealtyTrac.com. You can sign up for free alerts, but these don't have the detail of the paid notices. You can utilize the seven-day free trial to find out if the service will be valuable to you.
Check the real estate auctions at Williams & Williams. They conduct both online and in-person auctions across the U.S. Bidding starts as low as $1,000 with no reserve. Registration is free.
Check the HUD listings at the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Homes for Sale website. The site also lists properties for sale by the U.S. Marshals, FDIC, IRS, Customs, the Army Corps of Engineers and other government agencies.
Read your newspaper for foreclosure auctions. Read the fine print carefully and make sure you bring everything you need to the auction. Drive by the address before you bid so you don't overpay.
Drive around neighborhoods or areas you're interested in buying in. Search for abandoned properties. Talk to the neighbors to see who the owner is or check the ownership at the local courthouse. Make an offer.