Real Estate HowTo: Finding The Address

On behalf of the holiday, I’m posting up this HowTo earlier than I was intending to. Since one of our readers (Richie) let the cat out of the bag on this question, it makes no sense to hold back.

One of the most common questions I get is, “How do I find an address if I am looking at a listing online?” It’s a valid question. Many times a buyer might want to do a drive by without having to get involved with an agent. Maybe your agent only services a small area and you are interested in another area as well (but don’t want to hurt his/her feelings).

However, in the past, the answer was usually, “ask your real estate agent.”

Sure, and that’s probably the best way to find the information. Not all agents are terrible people looking to push you into this.

Here is a handful of ways to find the address you are looking for:

The Straightforward Approach
Ask your personal real estate agent for the information, they’ll give it to you. I am not anti-agent. In fact, (and this may come as a shock), I do have a real estate agent. She has been in the business for many years and I trust her opinion. She knows my position in the market and understands it. She also understands the current market. Are all agents good? No, in fact I think the majority of them aren’t qualified to wash your laundry.

Social Engineering
Call the listing agent and tell them you don’t have an agent in the area, but are interested, they will not give you the address, so don’t ask. However, tell them you are familiar with the area and would like to know what street the home is on, or what neighborhood. If you get the street, just use the taxrecords database to pinpoint the property by using the assessed value. Or, if the assessed value is common (returns many listings), just use MapQuest to help you narrow down the search. Matching land/improvements assessed values will help you pinpoint.

Open House Listings
Use the weichert.com or other realtor website to search the upcoming open houses. This isn’t a very accurate method, but sometimes you hit one.

New Listings Services
Sign up for one of the many “Just listed” services over the internet. I know some people that use justlisted.com. However, keep in mind, these services will send your search information to a real estate agent. That agent will then send you listings on a regular basis. If you don’t want to be associated with an agent, do not use these services. You can always sign up for a gmail account and make up some information.

Assessed Values Search
This is the goldmine. This is also the one method that *no one* will share with you, well, that is except certain readers here and myself. The other methods do not require any walkthru for you to do, this one is a bit more complicated, so I’ll follow the same format I used in the previous HowTo. Make sure you know how to use the tax databases before you attempt to walk through this process.

1) First you need to find the land and improvements assessments for the property you are interested. Open a browser to:

www.gsmls.com

2) Click “Search for Properties”, this will bring up a map of NJ. Click Morris County. This will bring up a map of Morris. In the drop down under “Cities/Towns” on the left, select “Chatham Bor.” Scroll down and click the “Continue” button.

3) Select a List price from “500,000″ to “550,000″ and click the “Search Now” button. Follow this path, I’m pushing you to a listing I’ve preselected to use in the walk-thru, and I’ll explain why later on.

4) Look for MLS# 2214727. The current asking is $549,000. Under the picture of the home, there is a text link that says “More details”, click it.

5) This is the typical detailed MLS info screen, it gives you quite a bit of information, but no address. However, look for the values for “Building Assessment, Land Assessment, Total Assessment”. That is the data we are interested in. For reference, we’ll grab the total assessment value of $493,400.

6) Bring up the Monmouth tax website. Select Morris, Chatham Bor., and do an Advanced Search.

7) Scroll down the page until you see the fields labelled “Net:”. In the “From” column only, enter in the total assessed value of 493400 (no special characters). Leave to “To” column blank. Click the “Submit Search” button.

8) If you did everything correctly, you’ll be rewarded with the information you are seeking.

Here are the issues when doing total assessment searches:

1) You don’t find anything. If this happens, try searching by just the land or improvement data separately. Or, search with a range to try to narrow down.

2) You find too many. Use the individual assessment values to pinpoint the record in question.

3) You still don’t find anything. Sorry, you are out of luck, use another method.

Sorry if this one seems rushed!

Caveat Emptor!
Grim

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12 Responses to Real Estate HowTo: Finding The Address

  1. Michelle says:

    You rule!!! Thanks for this fabulous info!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I have had numerous agents give me addresses to do a drive=by. In fact I dont think I have ever had one say they could not give it to me.

  3. Anonymous says:

    what is the web address for the tax info?

  4. Sugee says:

    THANK YOU !!

    Now I got the following info on a property I am interested in (but certainly cannot afford) from taxrecords.com.

    This is he info I got:
    Land: 20,600.00 Build: 57,800.00 Total $78,400.00
    Sold: $113,500.00 on xx/xx/1994
    $0.00 – **/**/**** $0.00 – **/**/**** $0.00 – **/**/****

    The asking price is 400K.

    Does the above info mean the house is worth only 78K ?

  5. grim says:

    sugee,

    The value of $78,400 is the assessed value of the home, that’s the amount used to calculate taxes. Don’t confuse it with the appraised value, which is a bogus, overestimated value to make new homedebtors feel like they got a deal.

    The owner puchased that house for 113k in ’94. However, that is 113k in 1994 dollars, and like everyone knows, a dollar in 1994 was worth a heck of alot more than a dollar today. So you need to adjust that value for inflation to come up with a price in 2005 dollars.

    However, realize you need to do adjustments in the property has gone into disrepair, or the owner has made other improvements. Maybe the neighborhood has gentrified and become desirable, or perhaps gone the other way.

    Putting an exact number on it is difficult, however, 400k is nowhere near what it should be unless has made significant improvements.

    grim

  6. sugee says:

    Thank you, Grim, for the prompt reply. Yes, I realised what you were saying when I went to reread your post. I added inflation adjustment of 5% for 11 years, comes to about 200 K. The house is in excellent condition, it is obvious that current owners have done improvements. Kitchen and the 2 bathrooms look new, the h/w floors sanded and polished, house painted and all that. I would give all that a 100K, which would make it 300. This street is closest to schools and always a little higher priced than elsewhere in town. But the schools themselves have improved. So another 25K. So 325 K is my assessment. How does this sound ?