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Snooping to Find the Value of Someone Else’s Home

My husband and I purchased our primary residence in August of 2001. My husband, (then boyfriend), and I purchased the house together, five days after my 24th birthday. It was a defining moment in our lives. There is nothing better than painting the walls, and moving the furniture, and realizing that one day you will own this house. The feeling was so incredible that we bought a second home in 2005.

My husband and I purchased our home just before the housing boom took over the nation. In 2001, we paid $260,000. At the time I told everyone I knew just how much we paid. I was young and excited, but more importantly proud that my boyfriend and I were able to purchase a home of our own. (Even though we only paid 12% of the home’s value at closing.) I noticed in return that no one ever mentioned how much they paid for their home. When a few coworkers moved the cost of their new home was never mentioned. In fact, my grandmother was the only one who discussed the price she paid and that was because the number sounded so ridiculously low in comparison to today’s prices. A few years later, when the housing market skyrocketed, people began to discuss the estimated value of their homes, but still the purchase price was never offered in conversation. It seems home prices are as taboo as salaries.

I mentioned this phenomenon to my mom the other day and she told me something that had never occurred to me. She told me her coworkers search the SDAT, (State Department of Assessments and Taxation), records to find out just how much people paid for their homes. Whenever they meet someone new they visit the Maryland SDAT site, type in the address of their new found friend, and discover the price they paid for their home. When I told her that seemed like an odd thing to do, she mentioned that she knows other people, outside of work, who do this too.

Is this a matter of keeping up with Joneses? You can’t know if you’re comparable to the Joneses unless you know what they paid for their home? Are people assuming other factors about you from the price you paid? For example, do you think the price of one’s home is indicative of the salary they earn? It seems a bit like snooping to me. I’m not certain I like the idea of searching through state records to get the scoop on the finances of my friends and family.

If you know people who do this or do this yourself please leave a comment on my blog. (You can comment anonymously.) I would love to hear what pleasure or value you receive in knowing the price someone else paid for their home.

Baby Joe

Tuesday 2nd of November 2010

Sometimes people tend not to tell the truth about the price of their home, especially if it is newly bought. I have a neighbor who never told me for how much she bought her home no matter how many times I asked. She always avoided my questions.

brent

Thursday 23rd of August 2007

interesting.

i wonder if there's anything like this in australia.

I thought that america was the land of Privacy.

One Frugal Girl

Tuesday 21st of August 2007

I think there is a big difference between looking up the values of homes in your neighborhood and snooping to find the home values of friends and family.

It's helpful to know the value of homes in your neighborhood in case you plan to get a home equity loan or line of credit or if you are thinking of selling your home in the future.

On the other hand looking up the values of your friend's homes just seems nosy.

the baglady

Tuesday 21st of August 2007

Yup, snooping is actually now very easy to do with sites like zillow.com or real-estate.nextag.com. You can look up almost every house in the nation and get either the exact price your neighbors paid or at least the taxes they paid so you can estimate the current value!

Amy

Tuesday 21st of August 2007

I'm a big fan of Zillow, which has the last sale info along with the # of bedrooms and bathrooms and aerial photos. I was going to post on my blog a while back about how to stalk someone (Zillow, local GIS, register of deeds, etc.) because I'm curious how much I can find.

ZIllow has not just the purchase price, but an estimate of the current market value. Does not cover all of the US, and tends to be off, the site is still in testing while they get the computational models right. Still, I'm a nosy gal!

Oh, and yes: I did tell anyone who asked (and maybe a few who didn't) exactly what we paid for our house.