Robert, there's one very easy way for buyers to search our local MLS, and that is through cnyrealtor.com. The site is run by our local board of Realtors, and it draws information directly from the MLS. You can also be set up (through an agent) to receive automated email notifications when a new property is listed in the MLS that matches your criteria. With the automated emails, you don't have to keep checking back and flipping through all the listings several times every day. If that's something you might be interested in, feel free to give me a call and I can get that going for you. It only takes a couple of minutes to set up.
Yes you can in most cases. if you were in the Long Island area, I would provide you with a free Listingbook account that works off of the MLS and provides ability for the consumer (you) to totally control your search and have the results delivered to your desktop every morning.
If you should have interest in this area, contact me at Gail@GailGladstone.com and I will be happy to give you account access.