House purchase advice
December 26, 2006 11:47 AM   Subscribe

I would like to find out how much a particular house was sold for and, in general, what economic conditions are like for a purchase.

1. Do city governments post the final price of a house online after a transaction is complete? Specifically, in Philadelphia?

I'd like to gauge if the real estate bubble will likely burst or at least deflate somewhat to determine how long I should hold off on a purchase. I'd like to consider various indicators, such as the change in local foreclosure rates over time (assuming that is meaningful).

2. Is this kind of information organized online in a geographic fashion? In general, are there other useful indicators that would suggest one course of action over another?

3. Are mortgage rates likely to climb still higher in the immediate future (within 5-10 years)?
posted by Blazecock Pileon to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Philadelphia property search, including assessed value, sale price, and date of sale.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 11:51 AM on December 26, 2006

Best answer: Zillow will answer question 2 and help with question 1 unless you are using Safari. It blocks Safari
posted by ardgedee at 12:25 PM on December 26, 2006

On preview Zillow doesn't seem that impressive. In my old neighborhood it lists 0 homes as recently sold - when I know there has been a slew of sales in the past couple of years.
posted by jourman2 at 12:58 PM on December 26, 2006

I am not able to find the selling price of any house in my area without going to the county recorder's office and reading the transaction.
posted by JayRwv at 1:09 PM on December 26, 2006

3. Are mortgage rates likely to climb still higher in the immediate future (within 5-10 years)?

Yes. While mortgage rates have edged up a little bit in the past couple of years, they are still near record lows. They are likely to be higher in the future.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 1:12 PM on December 26, 2006

The newspaper I grew up with (The Orlando Sentinel-- and most metropolitan papers, for that matter) publishes some details of all real estate transactions, including selling price. They don't publish addresses, so it's hard to get information for a specific house, but it could be useful for tracking general trends.
posted by chickletworks at 1:18 PM on December 26, 2006

Most counties' property appraiser's web sites post property sales histories, if I'm not mistaken.
posted by wsg at 1:19 PM on December 26, 2006

Real estate sales are public info - however in most locations it takes 90-180 days for that info to make it to the web sites where it is easily accessible.
posted by COD at 1:25 PM on December 26, 2006

Best answer: Your realtor should be able to help you out with answers about general neighborhood trends. If you are looking in South Philadelphia, I recommend Carl DiAntonio at Mercury Real Estate. He's very busy, but has a competent and knowledgeable assistant named Roberta, who put in tireless hours helping me find my house last spring. Good luck!

P.S. if you're looking for a good mortgage rate in Pennsylvania, check out PHFA ( They do government-subsidized mortgages for people of moderate income and their website makes it easy to see if you qualify. Mortgage rates have gone up a bit but last May I got a 30 year fixed for 5.5%.
posted by elisabeth r at 1:44 PM on December 26, 2006

Zillow works off property taxes, not recent sale prices, so if there are quirks in the local tax codes it may report a totally incorrect price.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:50 PM on December 26, 2006

Best answer: Mortgage tax stamps on the deed will reveal the amount of the mortgage. However, county clerks' offices often take years to file deeds.

Rummaging around in a dusty records room is unnecessary. Realtors have CD databases of deed PDFs, and they will also know what comparable properties have sold for in the neighborhood.
posted by KRS at 10:35 AM on December 27, 2006

Newspapers often publish sale prices. I assume the Philly Inquirer does something like this - a quick search of their site revealed this list of shore real estate transactions. If you can't find it online, then check back issues of the paper at the library.
posted by Sparky11 at 1:07 PM on December 30, 2006

Trulia has a good set of data, and a better interface than Zillow. Very good for finding recent comparables.

Individual counties vary what sort of information is posted; Arlington County, Virginia, has on the web every real estate transaction over the last decade plus (I was able to look up Justice Rehnquist's home sale) by address.

Are mortgage rates likely to climb higher at some point in the next five to ten years? If anybody could predict mortgage rates five to ten years out (or even five to ten months out) with accuracy, they would have ways to get rich that wouldn't involve sharing that prediction. It depends on who is president, what inflation looks like, what the economy looks like, what taxes look like, and so on. But it's exceedingly unlikely that today's mortgage rates reflect either a ten-year high or a ten-year low.
posted by commander_cool at 10:50 AM on December 31, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks to you all for your contributions. This is very helpful.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:06 AM on January 1, 2007

I'm not sure how thorough their coverage is in Philly, but Property Shark has proved invaluable getting the same info in the New York area.
posted by JaredSeth at 7:48 AM on February 5, 2007

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