When shopping for a new home, the more information you have, the better. MLS records are not always a trusted resource for finding out how much a house sold for in the past. If you do a little research now when it comes time to make an offer, you will have more negotiating power if you know what the property was worth to the previous owners. It is also good to know what other houses in your area are worth. Things like how many days has the property stayed on the market are also key. If you are aware of any personal factors behind the decision to sell, this can assist you in bargaining for a lower price or some other contingency.
Public records are the key to planning and researching before buying a new house.
Public Records Tell the Whole Story
You can obtain a wealth of information digging through public records. For example, if you are interested in buying a home, and you look up the sellers and find out they filed for divorce, you might offer less because they might be more motivated to sell. Finding out someone has tax liens against them, or they are in foreclosure might also give you leverage when negotiating price. Public records will tell you how long they have owned the home and how much they still owe on it.
There is so much information contained within public records that you can use to strategize and predict an equitable outcome for a house you want to buy. Some of the things available to you are criminal records, marriage, divorce and birth records, liens, bankruptcies, death records, driving records, assets, social media, and, of course, property records. Using this information, you can paint a very vivid picture of the seller of any house to help determine a fair asking price.
Local Real Estate Brokers
Local real estate agents in your area are another excellent resource to consult when you want to know how much a particular house sold for. Typically, real estate professionals don’t charge for this service, but they are doing you a favor, so be polite and patient. Their goal may be to secure you as a client going forward to buy another house. Although real estate brokers use the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system to find data, they are actually well connected with other real estate agents. They may have additional details that would not be exposed in public records. They should be able to supply you with a 20-year history of sales, agents, days on the market, original sales price, and many other details that might be helpful.
County Records Search
The venue may differ depending on the county and state, but there is always a place where paper documents of public records are stored and may be reviewed. It may be a courthouse, city hall, town clerk’s office, or county recorder’s office. Regardless of where it is, you can request copies of property records as long as you visit the county where the property resides.
Additionally, you can search through federal records to see if the seller has filed for bankruptcy or is involved in any federal tax lien situations or other litigation. A serious lawsuit or incident involving a failed business may also indicate a willingness to sell far below the asking price.
The first place to start is to perform a title search and find out the current seller’s name(s) and then go from there. Request a “deed abstract,” which will give you the entire history of the home, including sales, prices, liens, taxes, mortgages, and any easements or rights of way for the property.
You can hire a title company to perform this for you, but they will charge you a steep fee to do so. If you end up buying, your closing/title company will do this, then to make sure the property has a clean title before making up a need deed.
Online Resources to Find out How Much a House Sold For
Technology has made searching public records more accessible than ever before. If you are just interested in real estate data coming from the MLS, you can visit sites like Zillow or Realtor.com to get historical sales information, days on the market, and specifications, but you won’t be getting the whole picture.
Some counties store their property records online, and you can visit county websites to look up a property address. They may or may not charge a fee to use this service, and you will only see specific details.
One of the best ways to search to find out how much a house has sold for is to use an informational public records portal like Infotracer that collates all the data from many different sources into one, nice, easy interface. From a single login, you can see not only all the property records pertaining to the house address but also seller’s information, marriages, divorces, liens, social media (for other personal tidbits), and other details that may affect the price of the house.
Information is power, and the more you have, the more confident you can be when negotiating home prices or entering into a contract. Public records and the internet offer you vast resources to arm yourself with as much information as you need to get the best possible outcome.