You've seen it before. Maybe it's happened to you. You're off to look at homes, your real estate agent gives you a bunch of listings to look at, and the text just stares back at you. A bunch of codes, cryptic references ... it's Raiders of the Lost Ark all over again.
We're hear to help. In this and posts to follow, we'll try to decode those sheets so that you know exactly what you're looking at. Our MLS isn't as hard as some to decipher, but it DOES take a little repetition. Hopefully this should help. We'll be working through a townhouse in Christiansburg, listed for $160500. Ready? Here we go!
- MLS# ___: a unique, 5-digit Multiple Listing Service number assigned to each home. When you're contacting your agent about a property, it's probably easiest to refer to this number.
- Address: well, this one's probably self-explanatory, but if you're emailed the MLS sheet you should be able to get a map of where the property is located, which could be helpful in some cases.
- Price: now we're getting serious. This is the CURRENT list price - if a home has had a price reduction, it will not be reflected here - we'll get to that later.
- Subdivision: if the home is located in a subdivision, and that subdivision is part of the MLS database, it'll be listed here. If it's not in a subdivision, or one not in our database, this section will read "None" or "Other".
- Style/Strc/Home: let's us know whether it's a townhouse, a condo, a single-family detached home, a duplex, etc. Other options would include Commercial, Land, or Multi-Family.
- County or City: Another way to determine location. For instance, a property could have a Christiansburg address but be in Montgomery County only, so this is reflected here.
- Res Type: this is a repeat of Style/Strc/Home, if you ask me, and should be removed from our MLS sheets.
- Directions: these are helpful, for obvious reasons. It's really pretty annoying when they're not accurate, however.
- Status: In this case, the property is ACTIVE. It's currently on the market and for sale. But, it could also be ...
- PENDING - the home has a contract, signed by both buyer and seller, on the property.
- ACTIVE W/ KO - the home has a contract signed by both buyer and seller, but that offer depends on the buyer selling another property. In this case, we continue to show the home until the Kickout (KO) is removed.
- CLOSED - this is the best one of all. It means the home is SOLD!
- EXPIRED - sometimes, despite the best of intentions, a home doesn't sell the first time. If the home hasn't sold by the time specified in the Listing Agreement, it expires from the Multiple Listing Service.
- WITHDRAWN - the home may be withdrawn from the MLS for a time being while the seller makes certain repairs, goes out of time, etc. It happens.
Everyone wants to know the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, right? Of course, it's vital to the transaction, whether you're looking for a residential home, an investment property ... even a commercial building. But # of Rooms? We count rooms like bedrooms, dining rooms, living or family rooms, that sort of thing, into this number. Is it important? Not always. But it's there, so we complete it. And while we're at it, we specify the schools as well - that's often VERY important in the decision.
- Apx Yr Built: self-explanatory, but it's helpful to know when a home was built. If the home was built prior to 1978, for instance, we might expect lead-based paint products to have been used in construction, and that might influence a buyer's decision on whether to purchase or not.
- Source Yr Blt: While the information contained in the listing is considered accurate, it's not always. So, we provide more information regarding where we learned the age:
- Estimate: oftentimes we see this on properties that are very old, particularly old farmhouses and homesteads.
- Public Record: the most reliable source of information on a property's age, we get this from the County Courthouse. STILL not always accurate, however.
- Seller: think this is the most reliable source? 'Nuff said.
- Garage/Carport: need options, we've got them in this category. Try ... None, Single Attached, Single Detached, Single Carport, Double Attached, Double Detached, Double Carport, Triple Attached, Triple Detached ... get the idea?
- Zoning: Each municipality has it's own Zoning codes and regulations. For instance, Christiansburg's (where this home is located), can be found here.
- Tax ID: The Tax ID is like the Legal Description, it's the specific way that the Taxing Authority refers to your property, and is specific to each municipality.
- Taxes: You want to know what you'd pay on a monthly basis for taxes, right? Well, here's how you do it. Take the amount shown here and divide by 12. Of course, always verify with the local municipality.
- Tax Year: Taxes are assessed on a regular - sometimes - basis by the local Tax Authority. In this case, taxes from 2005 are going to be different from taxes in 2007, so we want to make sure we know what year we're looking at.
Tired yet? We're almost there!
- Lot Size: An acre is 43560 square feet. Sometimes, we'll see a lot size amount entered into this criteria, say, 6300 square feet or .14 acre. Many times, particularly for townhomes, this area is left blank.
- Apx Acr: Most often used on parcels of land with 1/2 acre or more of space.
- Master on Main: Very useful when we consider whether a home is truly main floor living.
- Apx Fin SqFt: One question I often get is what is considered finished square footage. Finished square footage is anyplace in the home that is heated and has electrical power running to it. Some areas of the country show the ENTIRE square footage of the house, but here in the NRV we break it down a little more specifically.
- Apx Bsmnt SqFt Fin: This total would be included in the total square footage of the home.
- Apx Bsmnt SqFt Unfin: Storage rooms, unfinished basements, etc., would all be included here. Any square footage that is NOT finished.
- Apx Main SqFt: This is usually square footage that is on the first floor ABOVE grade, so above the ground.
- Apx Upper SqFt: And this, naturally, is all square footage on floors above the first floor. Man, that was easy.
- Apx Monthly Heat Cost: Interested in what your monthly heat bill might be? You might find it here ... sometimes.
- Deed Bk/Pg Instrument: Deeds tell you all about the property - who bought it (the grantee), who sold it (the grantor), a description of the property (any limitations or restrictions, and where it's located, etc.) and also where to find other documents connected to the property. All of that information is found in the Courthouse for the County where the property is located.
- Duplicate Listing: Sometimes, a property might be listed as residential property AND multi-family, or multi-family AND commercial, for instance.
So that's it. That's the first section regarding how to decode a New River Valley MLS sheet. In the next installment, we'll go over more specifics regarding the features of the property.