When it comes to the sales verification process, both finding the right contact to verify sales data AND receiving a timely response are not the easiest of tasks – often requiring appraisers to get a bit creative in their verification techniques.
Sales verification should always include a joint effort of both examining real estate transfer documents and qualifying the sales price listed for ratio study purposes.
Check out the list below to see if you are using all of the verification sources and methods available to you.
Buyers and Sellers
If the contact information for a buyer or seller is available, reach out to them directly to qualify a recent sale price. Be prepared, know what questions you plan to ask ahead of time, and clearly explain your reasons for getting in touch.
Contact a buyer/seller using one of the methods below with the following benefits:
- Telephone interviews
- Quick responses
- Immediate clarification
- Personal Interviews
- Fewer Refusals
- Reliable information
- Reveal more unusual or special considerations
- Sales Verification Questionnaire
- An authorized signature or sworn statement
- Information in writing
If contact details are not provided, try the phone book or stop by for an on-site visit. But, don’t limit yourself to a phone directory – try LinkedIn, Facebook, or a Google search. If the information is public, why not use it as a resource to locate a phone number or email address and contact the buyer/seller listed? Electronic means of contact tend to be quick and inexpensive.
If you still can’t reach your intended target, send a sales verification questionnaire to the home address of the new buyer, with a postage-paid return envelope included.
Third Party Sources
When transfer documents don’t provide full disclosure or omit important sales information and the buyer/seller can’t be reached, you can always reach out to one of these third-party sources:
- Multiple Listing Services
- Title companies
- Financial institutions
- Leasing agencies
- Property managers
- Real estate brokers and agencies
- Government and private fee appraisers
- Appraisal organizations
Sound too easy? It’s important to note that none of the methods for reaching sources is without its faults. For example, phone interviews make it difficult to prove the identity of the person on the other end of the line and personal interviews are both costly and time consuming.
And, although using a sales verification questionnaire as a source for collecting sales data is not very costly, you do incur the costs of printing and mailing the letter and you have the disadvantage of having to wait for a response. Information gained is limited to the questions stated on the questionnaire and can leave the need for follow-up verification.
Just keep in mind, sales information should never be accepted at face value without first verifying the sale by contacting a party to the sale – especially when data is unclear, or when questions about the sale remain unanswered.
*Special thanks to Harding Sugg, Deputy Tax Assessor for Pitt County, for providing information on the sales verification process.
Additional Source: http://www.iaao.org/uploads/Verification_Adjustment_of_Sales.pdf