Back when I first started, the main way people found property for sale before they started working with a Realtor was:
1) Looking in local newspaper ads or real estate magazines
2) Driving around neighborhoods looking for "For Sale" signs.
Then the internet came along and everything changed. Tech smart and forward thinking Realtors developed their own websites and then the large national sites which obtain their feeds from the local mls's, large publications and other websites came into play. Unfortunately, a lot of the large ones are not the best and cause people a lot of confusion. I have compiled a list of my top pics for the ones I think are the best nationally and for this area alone.
This is the site that the general public can use to see all the properties available for this area and in real time. This is actually the site that houses the database that the large national sites like Realtor.com, Zillow and others pull their information from for the central coast. However, while the large ones will have up to 24 to 48 hour lag times for when they upload new information from ccrmls/rapmls.com, as Realtors in the area enter new listings and change information on existing, it will show instantaneously here. Although bare bones and not a lot of bells and whistles, this gives the most current data available. To bypass the log in screens and get right to it, Click here
Realtor.Com has always set the bar for everyone and they have some excellent ways to save your recent searches and look at property for the entire country also. The longest running national site and more up to date them most. The standard setter for the industry. Go to http://www.realtor.com/
Not just Re/Max listings. Everyone else's too. Ok, ok, I know you will think I am biased but Re/Max is the largest real estate organization in the world and as such, has properties for sale in other countries also. Always highly rated for search speeds and for the other information on their site. go to http://www.remax.com/
Although, not as well known as Realtor.Com and Re/Max.Com, Trulia has come a long way recently. Basically the same info as the other two, but very interactive for the public. They have some great web gadgets as well as forums where you can ask question of local Realtors. Go to http://www.trulia.com/
5) Google Maps Real Estate
Not well known, this is a great site for using maps rather then data for your search. Very intuitive and fun to use for your searches as you can see the tools here to see what the other homes in the neighborhood that are not for sale look like. They pull their information from a number of sites so not as current and accurate as the rest but still helpful. Go to http://maps.google.com/help/maps/realestate/
Anyway, these are my picks if you are looking to search on your own!