FranklyMLS.com now offers in the spreadsheet view a % Difference between the Tax Assessment and the List Price. But I’m here to tell you that I see too many buyers giving TOO MUCH weight to the tax records and tax assessments. (So why offer it? Well cuz you want it anyway).
1) The MLS freezes tax data on the day the home is listed.
Example: Last week the MLS finally refreshed the data for all of Prince William County. Homes listed before June 25th 08 will still show the $50k-$150k HIGHER 07 data. So you might try to compare 2 tax assessments find 1 being taxed at $600,000 and a much bigger house next door, showing up as taxed at $500,000. (If enough people ask, I can make FranklyMLS.com show the tax year in the spreadsheet mode)
1) They don’t show seller subsidy!
Sometimes the subsidy can be $30,000. So you think a home sold for $500k, but it really sold for $470,000 net. On the MLS the seller subsidy must be disclosed. (except when seller subsidy is improperly hidden)
(Sidenote: I’m big on stacking seller subsidy, as much as the lender will allow. The seller cares about net, but it is my opinion that a higher recorded price will help your resale and the neighborhood, especially those that think Realtors are worthless and get their data only from the county. Also it can get you into a loan with a lower rate, just ask for details.)
2) 30-90- days behind. Sometimes months behind the MLS Sold data (not available publicly).
3) Bank Sales Price is inaccurate. If you see a home that was $500k in 05 and the bank “pays” $300k for it last week, don’t think that that was a real transaction and somehow their break even is really $300k. Otherwise you could have bought it for $301k (which is not the case).
Problems specifically with Tax Assessment
Nobody knows exactly how the computer in the sky picks the tax assessment for a unit. Rarely does it account for upgrades, view, facing Rt 66?, etc.
For example 2 units in Clarendon 1021. One is a 600 sqft studio, one is a 600 sqft 1bdr. Both bought for the same price. That extra wall somehow makes the tax assessment 10% higher.
1) Free Sneak Peak on Bank Listings Coming Soon.
Look for a “nearby sales” link and discover bank owned homes that have not hit the MLS yet (most eventually do). These can take 1-2 months, but knowing about these can be very helpful in negotiations or in deciding what/when to buy. (ex: Arlington Tax on building 1021)
(Sidenote, was that tip helpful? That is just the beginning. Subscribe or email me.)
2) Verify MLS Data. Is it really a 4 bedroom? Is the agent trying to sneak in another non-legit bedroom? The tax records are a good place to verify this data and square footage data.
Too frequently I will get an Excel spreadsheet from a well intentioned buyer, based on the Tax records. Who needs a stinking Realtor anyhow right? Sorry, but it tends to be all wrong.
You don’t know what you don’t know. (upcoming post)
Sure, I’ll take a peek at Virginia Tax Assessments & Records, and see if they reveal anything interesting, but I won’t rely on them too heavily.
Written by Frank Borges LL0SA- Broker FranklyRealty.com
(please report typos)