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2.7.7 Data on Properties that Have Sold

A critical component of the full MLS systems used by real estate agents and appraisers is data on all the properties that have sold through the system in recent years. This information is minimal on online websites.

Why is this information useful?

Having access to this information makes it possible to go back to prior listings of the property to see if the condition of the property has been improved between the prior sale and the current listing, like whether the counter tops or flooring have been changed or whether the basement has been finished. More importantly, it is the data on prior sales that agents and appraisers use to evaluate the current asking price of an active property. You can find some data on property sales for an active listing you’re considering by logging onto sites like Zillow or by doing online searches of tax records in some counties, but the data available in Realtor MLS systems for this purpose is substantially more extensive and easier to access. Again, why isn’t this information exported to the public versions of most MLS systems? Because these systems are a marketing device for sellers and for listing agents. Sharing information that could help buyers evaluate the asking price for listed properties would undercut the purpose of the system. Data on Listing History Most Realtor MLS systems make it easy for a buyer’s agent to obtain a detailed history of listing dates, price changes and status changes on any property. It is easy for an agent to run a quick search and discover that a property that just came up as “new” on the system has actually been listed three other times in the prior 12 months. They can access data on when it was initially listed, the dates and amounts of any price changes, whether there have been prior contracts on the property and how long they were in effect. This data can provide a wealth of information on the seller’s motivations and behavior that can been extremely useful in evaluating and planning negotiating strategies with a seller. In many respects, this data is probably the most valuable data in the system for buyers other than the information on what houses are available for sale in their price range. Why isn’t this information available on the public systems? Simply because it is so valuable to buyers.