I use the Big Bear MLS to substantiate a lot of the real estate data that I provide on the Skinny. Pulling sales data from the MLS only provides part of the story however.
One of the biggest problems with the Big Bear MLS data is that it does not include all of the sales in the area. Along with the increase in REO properties for sale comes the increase in properties that are listed by out of area agents who do not put their listings into our MLS. If the property sells, our MLS does not show it. It also does not show any properties sold between private parties or by owner.
Hello public records. In a perfect world, public records will catch all of the sales (deed recordings) that occur, regardless of which MLS it is in, or if the property is sold by owner. Whenever a property is transferred to a new owner, a deed is recorded at the local County recorder’s office. This is a public document that can be tracked and found by any title company and/or companies that specialize in researching these type of documents.
Why is this important? It is only important if you want accurate statistics about a particular real estate market. If you are okay with part of the truth, or some generalizations, then it probably won’t matter that much. I prefer to be as accurate as possible.
For comparison, the Big Bear MLS shows that there were 82 homes sold in the Big Bear area during the month of September 2008 while the public records show 94 sales during the same time, a 13% difference. Not a big deal when you are talking about 1 month, but when you add that up over a whole year, 13% more sales will help any market look better.
And in fact, year to date (1/1/08 – 9/30/08) the Big Bear MLS is showing 496 home sales while the public records shows 572 home sales, a difference of 76 homes sales, or 13%!
If you take a look at the past couple years (Jan. to Sept.), it looks like this:
|# of Homes Sold Per MLS
|# of Homes Sold Per Public Records
Public records are not always reliable. If you are using it to rely on the square footage, year built, or beds & baths count for a house, then you are bound to run into discrepancies. Just ask sites like Zillow. But, when it comes to recorded sales, public records are as accurate as you will find.
For agents, MLS data does have it advantages. It is easier to use and to find the data you are looking for. But for consumers, it can be difficult to get.
If you have questions about a particular real estate market, or are just wanting to do some research about market conditions, make sure to keep these things in mind when doing so.