Many home buyers are interested in the history of a home. Without too much effort, we can see how often a home has been bought and sold. The MLS gives us all this information, going back to around 1984.
If a home gets listed, it is submitted by the Realtor. When it sells, we change that status and fill in the sold price. All images, remarks and details of the home such as square footage and other criteria remain in the database for realtors to see. This information is used for home evaluations, to determine a fair market price for a home. Sometimes, homes don’t sell, so the listing contract expires or the listing gets terminated. A Realtor can go back in the history of every home, and check if it sold, expired or got terminated, dating back to 1984.
A home’s history can be helpful and, at times, give a buyer good information. But remember, to do this the home must be listed on the MLS. Private sales are not listed on the MLS. Here are some benefits of learning about the history of a home.
Home price history
Did you know that the final sale price of a property is public record? Read more…
Sometimes, buyers want to know what the sellers paid for the home in the past. They want to use the difference, known as equity, in the negotiations. But just because a seller bought the home 30 years ago for an apple and an egg*, that does not mean the seller should sell it for less than current market value.
Title from Land Titles Alberta
The history can also tell us if a seller is capable of selling the house. If there is a big gap between the current asking price and the paid price, the seller must come up with the difference. If the MLS shows this gap, it may be a red flag for the buyer. It is for this particular reason that we must pull title of a house. Title shows exactly what the mortgage was when the house received its new owner. If the mortgage on title is more than the current price, we must verify with the selling agent how much was paid off on that mortgage. However, we pull title of a property for many more reasons than just the mortgage verification. Any caveats concerning the property are placed on title. What title can tell us, is explained in Pulling title or Land Title search for Calgary homes.
Any renovations in the past
Sometimes, we can use the images of the previous listings to check on what was renovated
Another reason to check the house history on the MLS is to see if the home was a ‘flipper’. When there is only a short time, only a few months, between buying and selling, it might be a flip-property. The buyer may be wise to inform the home inspector of this. The home inspector, having been made aware of this possibility, might want to pay extra attention to certain details.
Material latent defects
Both public and private remarks can give good information for buyers
Sometimes, the MLS history can give us information about special assessments in condos. Sometimes, realtors write up any issues in the private remarks, as a means of providing transparency to any buying agents. Looking into the history of the MLS must never replace a full review by a condo document review specialist! However, knowing there are or were issues with a condo may help you in your decision of whether or not to put in an offer. And if you do so, you now can do more research on any past defect.
Limitations and alternatives
Looking at the history of a home via the MLS can give some insights but does have limitations. Was the information filled out correctly by the previous realtor? Did all the sales of the home go through the MLS, or did the home change hands privately at some point? We examine the information, but never guarantee its full accuracy.
Apart from the MLS, another way to find out about the history of a home is simply to knock on the neighbours’ doors! You may be surprised what you can find out about a property by simply asking around. The best approach to this is with the buyer and realtor together. Much information can be gained from this simple approach.
Lastly, the City of Calgary offers some options for more research, as well. This is especially valuable for those who are interested in the community of a listed home. For more information, you can visit; http://www.calgary.ca/PDA/pd/Pages/Heritage-planning/researching-building-history.aspx
*’for an apple and an egg’ is a Dutch saying that means ‘for a very low price’.
Please note: The above is general information and not considered legal advice. We do our best to write informative articles about real estate in Calgary, Alberta. If you have any questions or concerns about our comments, please feel free to contact us or speak to your legal advisor.