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How to Source Sales Data in Countries where Agents are Very Secretive about Transactions?

To build a real estate portal, the standard strategy is collect lots of listing data. Or you could try the “AVM abroad” strategy (Zillow for country X).

I’ve written about data sources before (MLS listing datapublic property data, and other free datasets). Unfortunately, virtually no country in the world has the required sales data publicly accessible to base an AVM on. Why? Agents don’t want to share it, because buyers want it, and agents want buyers to ask them about it rather than look it up for free online. Pretty simple.

Which begets the question:

how to source data in countries where agents are secretive about sales data?

I honestly don’t have the faintest idea how each international real estate markets work, but the question really gets down to agent incentives. What possible incentives are there that may compel agents to share real estate sales data?

  • Advertise the fact that they sold property X long after the fact
  • For themselves as a scorecard/metric of success
  • As part of closing a transaction
  • To compete with other agents with the hope of being “the best agent in city/country X”
  • To share with their industry friends (brag)
  • Home buyer tells the agent to make it public (guessing this is very rare occurrence)

Particularly for those agents reading from abroad, what am I missing?

About Drew Meyers

Founder of Geek Estate Blog / Geek Estate Labs. Zillow Alum. Travel addict & co-founder of Horizon. Social entrepreneurship & microfinance advocate. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva.

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  • Chuck

    I think there should be some global rating of national RE market transparency. If on a scale of 1 to 10 US would be rated 7 or 8 this will give it a room to improve and also for other national RE markets to benchmark themselves against each other. If in a specific country RE transparency is low this could give local market a very strong outside pressure.

  • “Trying to collate or report on the data would literally require visiting 100+ offices, and going through thousands of filing cabinets. Not really an option.”

    Why is it not an option? That’s the same way people in the US have to get data (in some counties):

    • Kyle Wiltshire

      Can’t speak to every country, but in the Philippines most hardcopies are unreliable. They go missing, get extorted or destroyed in fires and floods. The LRA (who does deeds and titles for the country) is currently in the process of scanning them al into digital format… so yes, it is doable, but by no means complete. This is why we send teams out to collect data ourselves. Faster and more cost effective then relying on a very bureaucratic and error prone title system.

  • Gabe Sanders

    Drew, in most US states, sales data is readily available from public sites. Though, just knowing what a home sold for is not the whole story. Thus making many AVM’s less accurate than many think.

    • Gabe, I’m writing about countries, not counties. But yes I agree sales data isn’t the whole story.

      • Gabe Sanders

        Sorry Drew, I need to clean my glasses! 🙂

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  • J_O_N_A_T_H_A_N

    I too wonder about this topic. Have you come across any reliable data for South American Countries like Chile or Ecuador? Looking to invest the next couple years. Initially looked at Costa Rica but they may enter another correction soon with certain financial items looming over their economy.

    • There are some startup chile companies working on real estate projects, not sure any of them are going after this exact approach.

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