Knowledge is Power

PropertiesAugust2015-1A wise real estate Yoda once told me that all a real estate agent has to offer are two things – time and knowledge. And sales comparables are certainly at the front of the line when it comes to knowledge. Commonly known as ‘comps,’ individually, they can provide guidance when attempting to value a similar property. And collectively, comps can provide insight into pricing trends, sales velocity and buyer characteristics.

Back in the ‘old days,’ there were not many sources for this type of information. The most common method to collect them was trekking down to the county courthouse and searching through stacks of microfiche. How times have changed. The information superhighway has resulted in a staggering variety of sources for this same information. Some are free while others have a cost, either in terms of money or ‘goodwill capital.’ This month, we are going to discuss some of the most common sources for this vital but sometimes elusive information.

County auditor web sites The good news regarding county auditor web sites is that all 88 counties in Ohio offer the ability to view information down to the parcel level online. And the better news is that these systems are typically free. The bad news is that the individual county sites can vary widely in terms of searching functionality. For example, Perry County has a very robust system that allows users to perform broad-based searches based on a variety of characteristics, such as land use, transfer date and city. However, Cuyahoga County’s site is much more basic, allowing searches only based on specific name, address or permanent parcel number. And, although Cuyahoga County also offers a robust GIS system, if you are strictly searching for comps, this system is not the best tool. Click here to download the entire article.

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