Sep 7, 2012

Change in Home Sales Price Disclosure Rules for Texas

Beginning October 15, 2012 the sales price of all properties sold through the MLS must be disclosed to members of MLS. To the casual observer, this may not seem like a big deal since sales prices are typically available to Realtors. But in North Dallas real estate, this is noteworthy. Let me explain ...
MLS rules have always required that sales information be disclosed so that agents and appraisers can use the information to determine values in the area ( often called 'comps' or comparables).

However, Texas is one of a few "non-disclosure" states that does not require the sales price be included in publicly recorded deeds. Therefore, at the time of sale buyers often stipulated that their purchase price not be reported to the MLS system. Our MLS rules allowed a buyer to make this request and, if all parties agreed, the price was report this as a “Z sale”. Where we would normally see the sales price in the records, a Z ( standing for zero) would appear next to the list price instead of the sales price. The sales price was not reported or recorded in MLS and no one but the buyer, seller, their agents and title company knew the actual sales price. This is an exception to the common practices. We usually see it with high profile buyers, very high priced homes, builder sales or purchases from an investor who plans to flip the property.

According to our local MLS, in the past couple of years the practice of Z-ing out a property has become much more common in "several neighborhoods". Those neighborhood are in North Dallas.

Since our MLS is a private subscription based service it can require its members to report all sales information, including prices. Our MLS claims that withholding sales prices is "... diluting the effectiveness of comparable information available for MLS Participants in creating true market analysis, including Appraisers ... This begins to have a significant impact on comparable sales available and hinders the ability of real estate sales professionals to accurately advise clients on home values."

They are right. It does hinder appraisers and agents who don't have access to the sales prices. MLS membership is not cheap. As an agent, my MLS dues create and support the system and I have a right to proprietary information that the general public does not.

However, mandatory reporting of sales prices to the MLS also encroaches on our basic right to privacy. As our privacy in this country continues to dwindle, I can see that more than a few people are going to get worked up about this change. It is a double edge sword.

Regardless of what I think, the change is taking effect next month. As always, the MLS will not distribute sales prices to third parties or public web sites. Information may be publicly used for statistical purposes but they do not publish individual property sale prices to the public.

If a website publishes specific sales information, they are providing an "estimated" sales price based on public record information. Only MLS members may use the information when creating a market analysis for a client or compiling statistics. And a buyer can trust that their specific information will not be publicly disclosed ... right.

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