Washington Post’s updated property search app is helpful . . . with this caveat

January 31, 2013 — More data is becoming available to the public and folks savvy enough to use Internet apps to capture information on home sales have an updated local tool to use.

Here comes the The Washington Post with an updated version of its home search app for use on desktop computers and certain mobile devices.

As Real Estate Writer Kathy Orton described it earlier this week,  The Post used to rely only on data supplied by the counties. Now, through the MRIS service, it receives home-sale data within days, instead of months.

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This is how the home search tool appeared on January 31, 2013. CREDIT: The Washington Post

A quick caveat: the home sale price logged with the county does not take into accout what the Net Sale Price was. The Net Sale Price includes any adjustments at closing, including “givebacks” by the sellter to help consumate the deal. More often than not, the Net Sale Price is lower than the stated sale price.

The Post intends for you to be able to easily search by city, neighborhood or map point. “You can search single-family homes, condos or townhouses. You can search by the selling agent’s name. You won’t be able to find out the names of the buyers or sellers on the most recently sold properties,” Orton wrrote. MRIS doesn’t provide The Post with that data. You still have to wait for the county to give them that information or find it on your own on a county web site.

The Post says this tool can tell buyers “exactly what price a home sold for, which is much more relevant than what it was listed for.” As a reader of my blog you know now that’s only part of the picture, per my caveat outlined above.

The Post also says a buyer can search for the sales price of all the one-bedroom, one-bath condos on a particular street in order to know whether the condo they are thinking about buying is over- or under-priced.  But after a few searches using my laptop I found townhomes coming up after I specified only single family homes. I could not find the search function via my iPhone. (If you do, please let me know.)

Every new app is bound to have a few glitches. Let’s hope The Post fixes them quickly, especially as the Spring sales season approaches.

Bottom line: take all this with a rock of salt. More information is good, provided you know exactly what it means, and leaves out.

I do think it’s helpful for homeowners thinking about selling to be able to see what homes in their neighborhood sold for recently. They can use it to help validate their listing price provided you know any differences between the two properties, e.g. is one far more up-to-date than the other.

The Post says this app is to be made “Facebook friendly.” Orton writes it will update and expand this feature based on reader feedback. I’ve posted my feedback at the end of the article, you should too.

You deserve a market information provided by an experienced professional. Call me at 703-593-9432 or start with the MLS search function and / or Free Market Report service on my home page.

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