Wednesday, August 16, 2006

On Obtaining the Pricing/Lending History for a Property

Some of my more recent posts have prompted a flood of email from people asking me how they can find out for themselves the pricing history of a property. I think sharing this "secret and arcane" (as one writer put it, LOL!) information would provide an invaluable service as anyone who is thinking of buying a house should be informed of all the relevant facts about the house before they can even hope to make a rational and wise financial decision. And lord knows most real estate agents cannot be counted on to provide this information in a completely unbiased fashion; we must do it ourselves (which begs the question regarding the utility of real estate agents).

It's been a while since I last purchased a house, but here is what I did regarding my more recent posts on this blog. Please, anyone who can add to the following please do so in the comments section.
  1. If you are friends with someone who is a real estate agent, then hit them up for the relevant info. Otherwise, read on...
  2. Some real estate agencies publish an on-line monthly listing of which properties sold and by how much along with other relevant information. For Marin, I use the "recent sales" listing published by Vision RE. Theirs is not a complete listing of everything that sold in Marin but it is better than nothing and it's free. If you are looking for property elsewhere, then you will need to do a bit of hunting/asking around on your own to determine whether such a listing exists for your area.
  3., despite all its faults, sometimes lists the pricing history of a property. To find the pricing history this is what you do: (A) enter the street address and city in the spaces provided and click "Go", (B) on the next page is an aerial photo showing the location of the address you entered; above it is a link labeled like "Showing 123 Somewhere St, Some City,Some State 12345"; click on that link, (C) the next page shows you more information and somewhere there is a link that reads "See more graphs & data"; click on that link, (D) on the next page (you might have to do the security validation thingy first), near the bottom, will be the pricing history (if available) and tax summary. I found that Zillow rarely had the information I wanted probably because the site is still so new; I expect it will get better as it matures.
  4. The subscription access to DataQuick will allow you to get a Word document that lists the loan history (amount of loan by date, type of loan, the borrower's name, etc.) for any property.
  5. For Marin, if you know the borrower's name (say, via item #4, above), you can use the borrower's name to see trust deeds, reconveyances, etc. via the Marin Assessor-Recorder's office.
  6. can also be used to get information on a property.
  7. Obviously, the current asking price and recent price reductions can easily be had via the MLS,, etc.
I am sure that there are other resources available on-line that can be used, many of them for free. Please, if you have any other sources/methods for getting this information, please share it.


Blogger Ali, in Cali said...

Wow! What a great post! Thank you for revealing all of your secrets to those of us with inquiring minds. Maybe I could start that Solano County Bubble blog after all... We all take our risks. Perhaps this time, I pay it forward.

Aug 16, 2006, 2:17:00 PM  
Blogger Marinite said...

Wow! What a great post! Thank you for revealing all of your secrets to those of us with inquiring minds.

You are being sarcastic, right?

Aug 16, 2006, 2:28:00 PM  
Blogger Ali, in Cali said...

uh... no! I mean I'm not creating my very own housing bubble blog as we speak, but I think there were a lot of us out there wondering HOW bubble trackers like you get all your numbers.

Personally, I think you are doing quite a service, and I appreciate all you do to educate the public, or at least help them educate themselves. And with the flack you've recently been taking, it seems like there is potential that some folks will object to your step-by-step instructions. As I am not one of those folks, I thought the first comment should be one of approval, just in case.

So, no. No sarcasm intended... just (overly, probably) genuine enthusiasm.

Got fan mail?

Aug 16, 2006, 5:33:00 PM  
Blogger Ali, in Cali said...

"Got fan mail?"

p.s. okay. admittedly, that last bit was intended to be a little sarcastic. But just that bit... not the rest.


Aug 16, 2006, 5:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Marinite.

Aug 16, 2006, 8:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Marinite, thanks for all your diligence and intelligence and persistence.

Just one point regarding the MLS for those who aren't aware: the public MLS is very unreliable regarding original pricing of listings, subsequent price reductions, days on market, and whether a listing is actually a re-listing of a property that has failed to sell. I have noticed that the public MLS has become more and more misrepresentative of the facts over the past 12 months. Buyer beware.

Aug 17, 2006, 8:53:00 AM  
Blogger marine_explorer said...

Another source to compare property history is Ditech.
However, Zillow might be easier and more complete--has anyone compared accuracy between the two?

Aug 17, 2006, 9:35:00 AM  
Blogger mktmakr said... is a great resource, but it definitely has room for improvement. For valuation they need to start incorporating homes on the market in their algorithm. For example, there are 4 homes for sale in strawberry within a few blocks of each other:
15 vista Del Sol, $2.195 mil
6 vista del sol, $2.150 mil
35 vista real, $2.095 mil
17 vista real, $2.125 mil

zillow has each valued around 10% over the current asking price.
If there are sellers out there using zillow to value their properties, I think they might be in for disappointment.

Also, these properties are further proof that we are turning the corner.

Aug 17, 2006, 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger cajun100 said...

Wow -- I didn't think I would EVER get those vocal numbers right (must need new speakers or new ears)!

One thing I've noted recently is that if one uses a combo of Ziprealty,, Zillow, etc. to get listing and history information, the accuracy of the LOCATION is often suspect. A good example is the comparison between Zillow (which uses parcel map lot lines but the zoom feature is limited) and Google maps (which has better fidelity of the sat aerials but the true address is often WRONG).

After chasing down a few semi-rural listings in places like Sebastopol I learned not to entirely trust those lovely Google maps and sat images for address accuracy. Double-check or you may find yourself blocks, or even a mile or so, off.

Aug 17, 2006, 4:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How much does DataQuick access cost, and which service were you referring to specifically?

Aug 19, 2006, 11:37:00 PM  

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