For a long time after I bought my first home I kept up a habit of checking asking prices on homes and checking the selling prices of homes. I would browse the real estate section of the newspaper, note the prices for homes I particularly liked and then follow up and check the selling price later. I don’t know if it was a way of reassuring myself that I didn’t pay too much for my own home or what, but I definitely spent more time following my local real estate market than any person who’s not an investor should. It’s good to know I’m not the only one.
There are several ways you can go about finding out the selling price of a specific property. In many counties, the selling price must be made public with an announcement in the local newspaper. The selling prices of all homes sold in the region are published regularly, often weekly, along with the names of the buyers and the sellers. If you know a property is up for sale, and you want to know what the sellers ultimately received for it, you can keep your eye on the newspaper. The results are posted after closing.
A real estate agent should be able to search the MLS, the multiple listing service, and find out how much a property sold for once closing has occurred. If you have a friend who is a real estate agent, he may be willing to do this for you at no charge. If you cold call an agency, they may require a fee to look it up for you.
You can also go to the town’s municipal building, county courthouse or the like. The selling prices of property are public record and deeds are kept on record. Ask the clerk how to access deeds and how to interpret them. Sometimes the selling price is on the deed, other times just the tax is on the deed. If you know what the tax rate was at the time of sale, you can figure out the selling price. This is a good way to find out the selling price of a house that hasn’t been sold recently, the price that the owner’s of a home you are bidding on paid for it themselves, or to find the history of all sales transactions on a specific home.
There are also some companies on the Internet that you can pay to do the research for you. This may make sense if you are really pressed for time or you are looking for the sales prices of several homes at once. But, considering the fact that the selling prices are public record, it may be just as easy to do the research yourself, and it won’t cost you anything.