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MLS Listings: Are They You Best Bet?
The MLS or multiple listing service is only available to professional Realtors—but, some MLS listings that fall under the category of for sale by owner, can be searched on the MLS website. The MLS may not be your best bet to start, however, because if you visit their website and search for a home, a list of homes will appear, but by clicking on the listing, you’re redirected to sign up and offer email and personal information.
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If you don’t want to find out how long has a house been on the market on your own, you can call any local Realtor that has access to MLS and ask them to research certain properties. If you are wondering about a specific home, you will need to give them an address or if you have it, the MLS listing number. Listing numbers are often found in Realtor ads in your local newspapers or most real estate agencies have websites where you can search for properties and find listing numbers.
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Researching On Your Own
Online websites like Zillow.com are a great place to begin to determine how long a house has been up for sale. Let’s take a look at how Zillow works.
Once you’re on the home page, (see the screenshot to the left) you’ll find a blank area where you can search for just about anything—a specific address, a neighborhood, cities and states. If you have a home in mind, then type in the entire address, for example 123 Any Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15232.
By hitting the “Go" button, your search will show the house you already know is for sale but want to also know how long has this house been on the market. I chose one home I knew was for sale, 5974 Alder Street in the Shadyside area of Pittsburgh.
Once you click on the listing, scroll down to the bottom of the page where you’ll find a “Price History" for the home. For our home on Alder Street (see screenshot to the right), we can see items like when it was last sold, listed and if there were any price increases or decreases. Here, our Alder Street home was listed on February of 2011, the 17th to be exact, so we know that his home has been up for sale for only a few days. You can also find the Realtor who is the listing broker on Zillow.
Screenshots by author courtesy of Zillow
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Those more adventurous or those who don’t want to be bothered by an over-anxious real estate agent, also have some options to find out how long has a house been on the market. Think of your county clerk’s office here that keeps tax records for every property within the county.
If you have an address, you can go to your county clerk’s office and look for records. These searches will show you who owns the home, when it was purchased and the amount of annual taxes. If you know the house is for sale, you can probably guesstimate how long it’s been up for sale based on when it was purchased and you first saw the “for sale" sign go up. If a house shows it’s in foreclosure, the county records will also show the foreclosure date, so consider that the date the house was first available on the market. Keep in mind if you want copies of print outs of any information you obtain from the county clerk, there may be a fee.
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With so many homes in foreclosure these days, if you do a Web search for “foreclosures by zip code," you will find many websites that claim to offer up this information for free. Some of them are totally free, however, you most likely will be directed to the Realtor handling the foreclosure for the lender, or some websites do charge a fee or ask for personal information—stay away from these. It is possible to find out how long a house has been up for sale, by using the tips above. Happy House Hunting!
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MLS - http://www.mls.com
Zillow - http://www.zillow.com
Trulia - http://www.trulia.com
Oodle - http://www.oodle.com