“Oh my goodness, Propstream no longer has comps anymore!”
Did you also get the news that PropStream has no longer sold comps? If so, then you should sit down and listen to this podcast because SPOILER ALERT, they still do!
PropStream is an all-in-one tool that helps real estate tycoons in their data. But over the past few weeks, there’s been misinformation circulating online about how PropStream does not have comps anymore. Today, Burton Alicando will set the record straight and debunk myths about the whole PropStream fiasco. He also deep dive into some of the frequently asked questions and answers of our fellow PropStream users.
Setting the Record Straight – The Truth About List Company Propstream
In this episode, I get to the bottom of all the misinformation and fake news about PropStream not having comps anymore. Have you heard rumors that there have been changes with PropStream or that PropStreams’ comps are gone or the comping tool is gone and our lives are all over? I heard these same rumors and I knew that I needed to get to the bottom of this because it did not make sense to me. I called up my friend, Burton Alicando, who is the representative at PropStream. He gave me the facts and the facts are that PropStream still has a comping tool. You need to cool your jets. There is still a comping tool. You can still get sold comps on PropStream. I decided to get Burton on the show to clear up the rumors and to also explain the minor changes that have occurred.
Here’s what we talk about in this episode. First of all, we give an update. Does PropStream have comps? They still do. We also talk about the difference between MLS comps and public record sale comps. You need to understand the micro differences in this because it matters. It matters whether you are in a non-disclosure state or a disclosure state and we deep dive into the definition of those and what that means and what that means for you as a wholesaler who is trying to wholesale or invest in real estate in these states.
We also get into some other frequently asked questions about PropStream that have nothing to do with this update but these were more of questions that I had and my student-base had so these are things you might be wondering. I know you are going to get a lot out of this episode. Make sure you share this with the community. Tag me on Instagram @ThisMomFlips and share this. There is so much misinformation and I need your help to share this to help everybody get the right information. Let’s get back into this episode.
Burton, I’m so excited to have you. Welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here to set the record straight and clear things up. I agree with you. There has been a little bit of misinformation that has been spread and I want to make sure that investors know that we are still out here to help them out and again, to set the record straight on whether we can or cannot help them in their state so thank you for having me.
There has been a lot going around on social media. I’ll share with you what I have heard. I have heard PropStream no longer has comps. The comping tool is missing. You can’t use PropStream anymore at all to find comps. There’s no more sold data on PropStream but then, I got super confused because I’m seeing this on social media. There were even some webinars from influencers talking about this stuff, how it’s gone and there are no more PropStream for comps so people should go somewhere else. When I went on my PropStream account, I still saw sold comps. I was really confused. That’s why I gave you a call to clear it up. Are there still sold comps on PropStream?
There are still comps in PropStream. Comping has not disappeared. It’s still there. There are some slight adjustments that have occurred that may challenge some of our users but you are still going to be able to get a value on your properties. There are some challenges and that’s what we are here for. I’m here to discuss what those challenges could be.
I’m here to ask you all the questions that I have had the community and my student base ask. I’m going to get super micro because I think it’s important to understand what these slight differences are and what it means. What are the slight differences now?
PropStream was restricted from providing two types of MLS datasets. Before we go into that, let’s talk about what is MLS data. I know there are some readers out there that are probably jumping into real estate and they are like, “I keep hearing that term but what is it?” MLS stands for Multi-listing Service and MLS is a database that’s strictly for those that have permission to that database. Typically, those that have permission are realtors, brokers and appraisers with permission. I want you to think of the MLS a bit more like an organization like the HOA or Homeowners Association because there are about nearly 700-plus MLS boards nationwide.
The thing about each MLS board is they are operated and owned independently but they have one common policy and that is to not redistribute the data. The data that they are referring to is five pieces of data. They are MLS active listings, MLS pending listings, MLS contingent listings, MLS failed listings and MLS sold data. Before I tell you which ones were taken away, remember, MLS is not something that’s free and something that’s given to the public. In 2016, PropStream found a way to provide that data to our users without having to have a real estate license and it was revolutionary.
It was huge. It was not revolutionary. I used to beg for MLS access as an assistant account to agents. If I was in a territory and I needed MLS, I would say like, “Can I be your assistant? I’ll pay for it.” I would have to get MLS access by an agent giving me that access and then when PropStream got it, it was a huge deal because I no longer had to kiss butt to some agent.
I want to emphasize that even more. We provided it not just at a local level but at a nationwide level. This was remarkable because not even agents had that capability. It was not live data. We were not a replacement for the MLS. We were not the MLS. If an agent were to list a property in PropStream, they would probably see it in 24 to 72 hours in our database. 1, 2 or 3 three days behind that is not too bad. Imagine all the fees and all that stuff that we were potentially dodging.
I’m going to reiterate. What we did was remarkable but from the get-go, we were operating on a very gray line because MLS data is not supposed to be redistributed to the public like that but we found a way to do it and get away with it in a sense until the MLS board finally put their foot down. Some people were saying, “I want to see the new rules and regulations.” There are no new rules and regulations. This is a policy that has been there since day one when MLS boards have been created. It’s just it has been very loosely enforced, to be frank with you.
I could be an agent, get access to an MLS board, I could sell that data to Lauren until the MLS gets wind of it and they are going to put their foot down. That’s what happened to PropStream. What ended up happening was that the MLS boards decided to restrict only 2 of the 5 data sets, which is a head-scratcher a little bit but the two that were restricted were failed listings and MLS sold listings.
We were told, “PropStream, go ahead and still provide them the active, pending and contingent listings but please, no longer display failed or sold listings.” There is no real reason why they did that. It has been a policy so it makes sense as to why they wanted to go ahead and do that. As to what made them do it now and not before, no one knows and this is where people are speculating and running wild with their ideas.
You have people saying that they don’t like the wholesalers. I don’t know if that could be true and I don’t know if it’s not true. People are saying it has to do with X reason. There’s not one solid reason. I can tell you that it was not our choice. It was something completely out of control and because we are the largest real estate data provider in our industry and if the acquisition of Stewart Title for $175 million does not prove that point, being the largest real estate provider means we do have a bigger spotlight on us than others. When we are told to do certain things to prevent legal action, we are going to go and do that and because of that, people decided to throw their narratives on it. What was taken from us was not the entire MLS data set. It was just two. It was MLS failed and MLS sold listings and that’s what has happened.
There are a couple of things I’m thinking about. The first is why would they want to restrict the sold and failed listings? The real benefit of getting your real estate license and being an agent used to be because you had MLS access and that was about it. The agents have the ability to take a house and put it on the MLS which gives it more exposure so they can sell houses faster and for more money whereas as a wholesaler, we don’t have that ability. We don’t have the exposure of the MLS where the general public that is looking to buy a home can see it everywhere. The agents want to protect their ability. They want to protect what they had as a competitive advantage and the third-party services making this type of data available now are watering down their competitive advantage.
My narrative is that they are trying to protect their competitive advantage but there’s someone putting a narrative and then you spread it around. This is how the misinformation starts. It’s a snowball effect of misinformation and the game of telephone begins. I think you gave a really good explanation about what the MLS is. Now, what is the difference between the MLS comps that you used to see on PropStream and just the regular comps? I remember there would be two buttons.
You are very right. Prior to the changes, in our comparable section, we had three options. We had the public record option, which was records that were highlighted in green and the benefit with public records is that you are going to see both on and off-market transactions. Honestly, this is my personal opinion and probably backed up by the tax specialists out there but public records are official. Prices that you see on public records are official. They are so official that the tax assessor’s office runs their tax assessments on public records. They don’t run them on MLS sold comps. The benefit of public records was on and off-market transactions.
Also in our comparable section, we gave the user the ability to see MLS data sets as well. Those are the active, pending, contingent, failed and sold. That was remarkable because prior to PropStream doing that, you got to imagine the chaos it was to get records and the records you wanted. When we released this format in 2016, it changed the game because now, an investor or anybody in the real estate space could say, “I would like to see an off-market cash transaction to see what investors are buying properties for. I like to see a fully renovated property that was sold in the last 60 days.” That’s the MLS listing and then they could be like, “I like to see an active property to see if the market has gone up or down since then.”
When you’re in a territory, you need to figure out what your gold standard is.
We gave that ability to go across the board. We ran with it for a while and then the failed and sold listing have been removed. The public records are still there. The confusion with the changes and how the MLS data being removed impact us as a community is ultimately you need to know whether you are in a disclosure state or non-disclosure state and that to me is the most important part here.
That is why this did not affect me that much because the markets that I invest in are all disclosure states. I did not care about MLS. I wanted the public records because I look at them as the gold standard of information. I only focused on the public record data anyway but then through our conversations, I realized why some people are so hung up about losing the MLS sold data and that’s because they invest in a non-disclosure state. Can you elaborate a little bit about a disclosure state versus a non-disclosure state?
Yeah. I’m not an attorney so I’m not going to go into the details as to why this law was created but it’s as simple as this. A disclosure state means that when there’s a real estate transaction like buying it in cash, transferring it to a family member or financing it with the bank, the amount of that transaction is going to get recorded and disclosed to the public. That’s why it’s called the disclosure state.
If you go to the county right now in California, Florida or New York, those are a bunch of disclosure states and say, “I would like to see a cash transaction,” not only will you see the deed and the cash but you will also see the amount of that cash transaction. There are twelve states that are non-disclosure states. I encourage you to Google non-disclosure states real estate and pay attention to these twelve non-disclosure states because the difference with these states is one thing and that is they cannot disclose the selling price. It’s a state law in these twelve states and I don’t know why.
You can speculate as to why but the reality of the situation is when a transaction occurs in those states, let’s say you buy a house for $1,000 in cash, that is not going to get disclosed to the public so it makes it hard for someone in a disclosure state to run comps because the county does not provide that information. This is why MLS sold comps have become very important to a non-disclosure state investor. You can now connect the dots as to why when we were told to remove it, not by choice but because they finally put their foot down, it impacted those in those states or those that invested in those states.
However, what I’m a little bit disappointed about is that some investors in those states decided to go on social media and say that nobody could run comps. I get that they were impacted but to spread that misinformation, I don’t think that was appropriate. It scared quite a lot of people. It impacted their businesses. You had a day or two where they thought they could not comp when they could and for those that reached out that were in non-disclosure states, we provided some alternatives that are still going to be beneficial to them even though we don’t have that selling price.
It freaked all of us out. I was panicking because we use PropStream to price out our houses. I told my team, “Something’s going on with PropStream. I don’t think we have sold data anymore. We got to figure something out.” We are on YouTube university trying to figure it out and stumbled upon misinformation. That’s why it was so important. To put this in a different context for those who are reading because I know this gets a little tedious to understand but the way to explain what Burton is saying is I would have students often in my coaching program pick a non-disclosure state.
They are all in virtual markets. I coach the virtual wholesaling. They might stumble upon Texas, for example, and they say, “I’m thinking about doing Houston, Texas but the problem is there are no comps. I can’t find any sold data on Zillow. There’s either a line or a zero in the price section for sold. There’s nothing on Zillow. I’m looking up Redfin. There’s nothing on Redfin. How do I get comps?” My advice was, “You have to get MLS access there.” I did not even know PropStream had MLS sold information because I never paid attention to it. I play in disclosure states so I paid attention to the public record section in PropStream anyway because that was my gold standard.
For the folks that are reading, when you are in a territory, you need to figure out what is your gold standard location for comps and if you are in a non-disclosure state, your gold standard is going to be the MLS. You are going to have to find a way to get MLS access. Get yourself licensed, try to get an assistant account, work with an agent, maybe come up with a partnership with an agent or however you want to do it. Third-party applications, it’s not just PropStream, are going to start getting policed a little bit more. They are going to be dropping like flies. You are going to see more and more third-party applications getting rid of this. Hopefully, I explained that a little bit to help clarify because I know this is a concept that a lot of people don’t understand.
This is an industry-wide thing. I have seen people bring up comparisons of other applications. We’ve gone on Zoom and talked about it. We did a side-by-side comparison of our product and these other products. All I’m going to say is be extremely careful because just because it’s labeled one thing does not mean it’s that. You can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still going to be a pig at the end of the day. The MLS restriction is across all third-party applications so be extremely careful.
My advice for anybody in non-disclosure states is that if you are using a third-party platform, PropStream included, double-check your prices with the actual realtor or if you have the MLS, double-check the prices through there. The benefit with PropStream because I don’t want everybody to think that we can’t help you in non-disclosure states, the only thing missing in non-disclosure states is the price. What I want you to think of is PropStream can get you 90% of comps value. We can’t get you the price because that’s now restricted but we can get you 90% there.
Let me explain. In a disclosure state like where Lauren and I are in California, we can search for a property in PropStream, go in the comparables and use public records to get a value. What will we do with the public records? We would put our comparisons, the property characteristics, the year bill, the bathroom and a half a mile radius and find the properties with similar characteristics. We get the sell prices because it’s a disclosure state.
I and anybody in the disclosure state, if you are running comps, you can go from beginning to end in PropStream. Those that are in non-disclosure states, prior to the changes, could have gone from beginning to end. Pull up a property comp, MLS, put the characteristics and get prices. Prices are now gone but that does not mean we can’t help you.
Picture this non-disclosure state. Let’s say Texas. The property owner calls me and I can type that property in PropStream, go into comparables and look at public records. I don’t have the sell prices but the public records give me the characteristics, the sell date and the location of that property that sold. I can go into PropStream, use the public records, add some characteristics and get 3 or 4 similar properties and then print that out on PropStream’s comps report.
The only extra step I need to take is to call a realtor and say, “I have four properties here. Can you get me a selling price?” Rather than calling a realtor and saying, “I have an address. Can you comp it for me?” They are probably not going to do it because you are going to put a lot of work into them. You can come at them with more than 90% of the work done. “Realtor, I see you have sold some houses in the neighborhood. I don’t have access to the MLS. I only have access to public records. Here are the four properties. Can you hook it up?”
Even though you are impacted by it, spreading misinformation is still inappropriate.
We could still help you in non-disclosure states. It’s just that there’s one extra step now that has been introduced. This is again before the MLS data was even here. You had to do this. You are going to have to go back to the traditional standard, which is you can get the public records, find similar properties that sold and call the realtor or be the realtor to get that sell price.
I’m going to do a summary. We are going to summarize this. Step number one is to figure out if you are investing in a nondisclosure state. If yes, your gold standard for the best comps or your best bet is to get licensed in that state so you can get your own MLS access or there is a possibility where you could work a deal with an agent and get an assistant account with them. I don’t know what the process is. I’m guessing every MLS board has different regulations on their assistant account. If you can do it legally, do that or get licensed and get your own MLS access. That would be the gold standard.
Number two would be if you don’t want to get licensed or you don’t want to go through the effort because maybe this is a one-off investment where a house came up in Texas and it looks like the one time you are going to do it so why would you get licensed for this one time. Go to PropStream. Look at the sold properties because you are still going to see that they were sold. You just won’t have the price in front of you.
Grab your 4 or 5 handfuls of comps, call an agent, ask them to do you a solid and give you the price because they have MLS access and that is only if you are in a non-disclosure state. If you are like me, continue operating the same way you have been because nothing has changed for me. Nothing has changed for disclosure state folks.
I will say there maybe might have been one slight perk of having MLS in a disclosure state but it was probably seeing a sell three days before the county recorded it. Knowing a property selling in a short period of time isn’t going to break us. Remember, we run comps for months or a year depending on your market.
Knowing if a house sold a week before the county records it is nothing. It was not always perfect. We have been doing this for several years. There were times when we would see property as active but the county would have recorded it as a sold property already. I’m a curious individual. We have the agent’s phone number so I would call this active listing or at least that’s what it said, that was recorded as sold at the county.
When I called that active listing, within the first fifteen seconds I knew what was going on. They were like, “Are you interested in this property? We sold that this week. We have other listings for you.” It’s not that they are supposed to be doing this but this could sometimes happen. These listings would stay active so they can get an extra lead or two. Not necessarily having MLS sold comps in disclosure state was a perk. Sometimes, it could be the opposite because they were looking for more leads.
You nailed it. In disclosure states, public records are a standard. In non-disclosure states, it’s still a standard to get the characteristics, what’s sold and when it’s sold. That one extra step now is once I have the 405, reach out to a realtor. I would always lead by complimenting them like, “I hear you are the best in the block. I heard you sold this property. What would you sell it for? How fast did you sell it for?” You would be surprised when you come in with a compliment first, they are going to start bragging about everything they have done.
I have got one more question about inaccuracies or I don’t know if the word would be inaccuracy but let me give you an example. I was looking at comps. Within this city, all the square footage was missing for every comp. Sometimes, we would get to certain cities randomly. In the city next door, I have got comps but for this city, for some reason some factors of the properties are missing like square footage. Why is that?
It’s county by county. We don’t have a real definition as to why. It could be laziness. It could be that they don’t have the time for it or it could be a standard that they have but it varies from not just square footage. We have properties get recorded without the bedrooms, bathrooms, the year built and some of the things. It could be a variety of many things. It could be a standard at that county or it could be that they don’t have the labor power to introduce it.
Rarely it’s sloppy where we are not able to give you the characteristics or the square footage but those are usually one-offs. You will usually see that when you are pulling up a comp, the properties that you see all have it but there’s that one property that does not have it. That’s usually the case. When you are in a comp section and you notice from number 1 to 50 your results all are missing like bedrooms and other characteristics, that’s a county standard. There’s nothing that you can do to get around that besides doing some additional research. Sometimes, the realtors might have it. Sometimes, they may not and this is when potentially reaching out to homeowners or neighbors might potentially help out.
Would that mean that then having MLS access or having the MLS comp would be advantageous because the realtor in their listings has to put square footage, beds and baths?
Yes. The reality is you would assume that that would be the case and wishful thinking is yes. No offense to agents and brokers out there. There are no set rules on what is a bedroom or a bathroom. There are times where I have seen agents consider an office a bedroom and it should be a 3-bedroom and 2-bathroom but now, it’s listed as a four-two and then when the county records it, they have the official say of saying, “It’s still a three-two.” There are times we would see characteristics that are on the MLS that the county did not display but I still would take that with a grain of salt at the end of the day.
I had a contract in an area like this and all the square footage was missing so I asked my realtor to pull comps to see what they had reflected in the MLS. When you are in an area like that, it’s important to see if you can get a realtor to do you a solid and give you some comps so you can compare. That’s interesting.
I have another question and I know these people have encountered these things. This does not have to do with the PropStream update but this is a frequently asked question. It’s about certain property types when you are pulling lists in PropStream and I’m going to give you the example of apartments. I can go to Oklahoma City and pull an apartment list. I would say you get a healthy number of leads pulling that list where it looks about accurate but then you go to Tulsa and there’s an unusually low number of leads, which makes you almost think PropStream does not have access to their apartment list. Can you explain why that might occur?
It’s labeling. If you notice in our filtering when you click on the classification, let’s say residential and then you click on property type, the drop-down to the right of it, you are going to see all the potential subcategories that a county can label a residential property and that’s the factor to your question. Some counties will do us the solid and label what that property is supposed to be like apartment 10 and 100 units, duplex or triplex. Some either because they are too large or they don’t have the luxury to do it, they generalize the labeling. What they will say instead of saying apartment, duplex or triplex, they will say multifamily 2 to 4-unit.
If you are using a third-party platform proxy, double-check your prices with the actual realtor.
If you are trying to find all the apartments in your market, in this case in Tulsa and it worked in one market but did not work in Tulsa, check off every subset category that’s related to that or here’s another option I would recommend. Use our map or geo-locate feature. Zoom in onto an actual apartment in that area. If I was in Tulsa and I’m noticing that, what I would have done is go into the actual map, zoom in onto an apartment building, click on that apartment building and go into the details of it.
In the details, you will see the property type that it’s labeled under. You might have been searching for apartments but the buildings might be labeled as commercial general or multifamily residential dwellings, for example. That is the first thing I would do. If I’m trying to look for carwashes and the carwash label’s not working, find a car wash and click on it. It might be labeled under commercial other and at that point, that’s what you are going to need to look for. It’s county by county. It’s not us. It’s them. We wish it was a little bit more organized but that’s the reality of it.
People need to understand that this is not PropStream’s fault. Any third-party provider would have this issue. It’s the county level and there’s no general blanket rule of how the counties had to code and label their property types.
That’s the reality of it. Test it out yourself. Go to the county and ask them. If you are in a market and you are looking up carwashes and nothing shows up, go to the county and ask for a carwash list in their records. They are going to tell you that they don’t have that category. You are going to have to oblige by the categories they do offer so you will probably have to say, “I need your commercial records,” and then from there go through it like we are doing.
We are not crafting these records. We are not editing them. We are just grabbing them and then pushing them forward to you with our other data sets coated on top of it. When we get that carwash, whatever it’s labeled under, we have no control but once we get it, we tie it to the mortgage information, the other properties that the owner has and the lien it might be associated with.
The labeling is completely out of our hands but that’s why it’s not uniform across the board. Zoning is another thing. We have people that are asking, “Why can’t I search zoning?” It’s not uniform across the board so because of that very nature, that’s why one thing is labeled here and in another city or even sometimes in another ZIP code, it may be labeled entirely different.
I have noticed that. What department at the county would you call to get your apartment list or carwash list? Is that the tax assessor?
No. It depends. It’s usually the County Clerk’s Office. Depending on the county, it could be the tax assessor but if you have a County Clerk’s Office, I would start there.
You go call up the county. Google county clerk and insert county name. Start there. They might send you to the tax assessor.
If you don’t want to go through our records manually because it’s not labeled, let’s say you do go to the county and you do happen to grab that, remember we have a List Automator. It’s a really cool feature where you can import those records into our system and we will give you the data right then and there. If you don’t want to go through it manually and you grab it manually yourself, use the List Automator. Bring it in. The data is there and then you can export it right on out with the data now. That’s a little tip there.
I got a lot of clarity out of doing this episode with you. I don’t think I can think of any more questions that have not been asked of me. Is there anything else that you want to clarify before we end the show?
No. When you are using a third-party platform, PropStream included and you are in a non-disclosure state, I don’t care if it’s your grandmother telling you they got the sell prices for that state. Double-check your numbers with an actual realtor or have access to MLS for yourself. The reason I’m saying that is people have been reaching out to me and they have been sending me comparisons of other products.
I don’t mind giving you the time in talking about those comparisons but so far in 6 out of 6, I have not missed one yet. We are discovering estimated values are being used and labeled as sell prices on these platforms so be very careful. They might be great in everything else. It’s that sell price. We got to be extra careful about it in non-disclosure states.
For anybody that wants to learn more about our data or just data itself or the changes and how it may affect you, please reach out to our customer support or me. That even goes for those that did not know any better. It might have been spread information that they thought was correct and was not correct. I extend that invitation to you if you want to talk more about how these changes might impact your business or your students that you do have a program. Thank you so much.
I am super clear. I know this could get a little bit confusing so if you do have any questions, make sure you reach out to PropStream’s customer support. They have amazing customer support. I am still using PropStream. It’s a tool that is invaluable. I could not do my business without PropStream so I’m still using it. If you are interested in PropStream, you go to www.PropStream.com. Let them know Lauren Hardy sent you. Thank you so much for the very good explanation about the changes and for your time. Thanks for being on this show.
Trust me. We are not giving up. We are finding and trying to find other avenues to get that information back. We might look back at this and laugh at it because what was all the fuss about? That’s the reality. Thank you so much. I hope you have a wonderful day and thank you for having me on this episode.
Thank you so much for reading. Remember, if you are wanting to take your business virtual, you want to become a virtual wholesaler, I want to help you. Make sure you check out www.VirtualInvestingMastery.com for the best virtual wholesaling course on the planet. I will see you next time.
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About Lauren Hardy
Lauren Hardy is a Virtual Investing expert and Real Estate influencer who owns multiple companies in the real estate industry including real estate investment, coaching, and software companies. She is also a Wholesaling Inc coach and co-host of the Wholesaling Inc Podcast.
Her experience in the last decade has been focused on real estate investing and creating products and services to serve the real estate investing community. If you are interested in investing in real estate virtually, house flipping, or virtual landlording, Lauren’s your girl.