Mon, 30 Mar 09
New database in Scotland will provide homebuyers with prices that nearby houses sell for within a day of the exchange.
Homeowners and buyers will soon be able to find out how much properties in their area have been exchanged for, free of charge, within 24 hours of the sale going through.
The Registers of Scotland (RoS) agency, responsible for registering all property sales, is to launch a new public database giving people instant access to every transaction.
Until now the information was only available from commercial websites, some of which charged, and prices were published only three months after a purchase went through.
The new facility will allow buyers to access instantly the most recent prices achieved in areas where they are interested in moving.
Chris Dempsey, Head of Communication at the RoS said, 'There are already some private websites that offer similar services, and some do that for free, but the big difference is the speed at which we are able to put the data out there. All the private providers get their data from us, so it is always a couple of months old.'
Estate agents and politicians welcomed the move by the RoS to make property data more easily available.
Tory MSP Mary Scanlon said offering property sales information to the public for free was crucial in the current economic climate, as it could be an excellent indicator of how much to bid for a specific property.
'I think it is helpful to people wanting to put their house on the market, and I think it is also useful to people who are looking to buy a property and want to find out how much houses are selling for in a specific area,' she said.
Mark Horden, Spokesman for the Glasgow Solicitors Property Centre, agreed the service would provide a useful tool for buyers, sellers and professionals in a difficult market.
'I think it is really important that the Register of Scotland make this information more easily and more quickly available, so that everyone understands what is going on in the market.
The faster the information gets into the market, the better from our point of view,' he said, adding he would like to see the RoS widen its service to include the number of transactions in the market.
'The number of sales today is less than half of what it was this time last year, and the number of transactions is an important indicator of the health of the market and market trends,' he told The Sunday Times.
Neil Harrison, Marketing Manager at the Solicitors Property Centre in Edinburgh, cautioned customers from taking RoS statistics at face value, 'You canít see if a house has central heating, does it have double glazing, does it need upgrading, or the number of bedrooms, which would influence price. Quite often, you end up not comparing apples with apples.'
He said customers had to be careful to take into account the amount of work a seller may have done on a property in an area with generally lower house prices, as well as the possibility of low-value properties being situated in close proximity to homes with a naturally higher value.
'It may be the case that they are in a particular postcode area where a lot of properties are former council houses, but there is a single street where there are a lot of other, older properties which would go for a higher price.'
See also: House Prices and Trends
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