A bill has come forward in the Montana Legislature that could mean big changes for homebuyers, sellers and real estate agents alike. The bill would make all completed home sale numbers open and accessible to the public. Essentially, the bill will void Montana’s current status as a non-disclosure state.
A non-disclosure state is any state that does not release home sale values to the public. For example, if a nearby neighbor sells his home, another homeowner will not be able to find public record of how much the neighbor sold it for. The public will have seen the listing price, but once the contract goes into negotiations, only the buyer and seller would know how much higher or lower the true sale price became. Under the new law, the public would know exactly how much each home has sold for in its past.
Non-disclosure states currently provide property information, owner transfers with loan amounts, and mortgage transfer taxes. Though that information can help a person get close to the sale value, it will not hit it directly on the head.
Proponents of the bill believe that making that information public will help prevent events that occurred during the housing recession seen in 2008. Real estate values increased by 55% across the state, requiring thousands of reappraisals to find true home values.
Opponents like the Montana Association of Realtors have argued that individual’s right to privacy on large matters like home sales trump the public’s right to know. Sales made in financial distress and multi million dollar home sales alike would be made public record—information many homeowners would prefer to keep quiet from their neighbors.
Setting a price on a home can be trickier without disclosed sales, making online “home value” estimates from websites like zillow.com and trulia.com just plain wrong. To receive a proper evaluation in a state like Montana, an experienced broker or appraiser would need to value the home in person.
If the bill is passed, it will affect every real estate transaction in the future. Everyone should pay close attention to how this bill may affect their own real estate dealings in the state.
Hart Real Estate Solutions