Updated: August 2020.
Recently for a custom data request project, I needed to find historic home sales data by zip code for the entire United States. While the US Census Bureau has median home value data for ZCTAs, you can’t get count of sales or sale prices for individual home sales data from the Census datasets.
In addition to the Census Bureau, the county appraisal districts are a fantastic source of real estate data. But in Texas, you can’t even get home sales data from the county appraisal districts, because Texas law makes reporting home sales optional. And even for states unlike Texas that do require the reporting of home sales, it would be painful, time consuming, and expensive to contact every county appraisal district/office in the United States & request this data.
Below are all of the options that I explored to get historic home sales data by zip code for the entire US.
2 Viable Options to get Historic Home Sales Data by Zip Code
- BEST OPTION – Purchase the data from DataQuick. DataQuick has been selling real estate data for over 30 years. They have reasonable prices. For example, I could get 2 data points (like number of sales and median sale price) for each MONTH for zip codes in the US for the past 10 years for $10,000. If I needed historic home sales data by zip code for the previous 10 years, that price was $7,000. And if I wanted additional data points in addition to the 2 mentioned above, each data point was $1,000 for 10 years. This pricing structure was easy for me to understand and to communicate. Also, DataQuick returned my phone calls quickly and were pleasant to work with. Their turnaround time for the data was 4 days. But there’s one small catch – they only have 70% coverage of US zip codes – which I understand to be based on population. Basically, you can get home sales data for the 70% of US zip codes with the largest populations. For the custom data request research that I was doing, 70% of zip codes was good enough. One could assume that the smaller the population, the fewer home sales are likely. But if you HAVE to have a higher coverage level than 70% of US zip codes, I did find a second option for you.
- Buy the data for Real Quest. Real Quest is a division of CoreLogic – which is also a company that sells real estate data. The benefit of Real Quest is that they have data for 98 to 99% of residential properties in the US. That’s pretty impressive. What wasn’t impressive was their customer service or their pricing. I never could get a price quote from the sales person who was “helping” me. The best I could get is that “we’ll work with you if you have a $50K budget.” The other specific issue that bugged me was that they kept asking me to identify my client who I was doing research for – which I wasn’t comfortable doing without permission from my client. Since I had such a poor experience with their sales person, I hesitate to even list these guys as a viable option. But I can’t overlook the 98-99% data coverage.
Not Viable Options For My Purposes But These Options Might Work For You
- Policy Map. Policy Map looks to be a pretty sweet web app for pulling demographic data. I keep meaning to sign up for a free trial & check ‘em out, but it never gets to the top of my to-do list. Policy Map wasn’t a good fit for this particular request, because their sales data only went back to 2006. It appears they have number of sales, median sale price, aggregate sales amounts & loan-to-value ratios on a quarterly basis for 2007 to 2012 and on an annual basis for 2006 to 2007. 1 note: you can’t access this data as part of the Free Account.
- Regional Multiple Listing Services (MLS). A real estate multiple listing service is basically a shared database of that allows real estate brokers & realtors to see what homes are for sale & have currently sold in the past. There are 900+ regional multiple listing services in the United State. During my research, someone told me that there are 935 MLSs over the phone & I haven’t been able to verify it. I did find this link with data sources indicating that the number is between 900 and 1000. And then I found to buy access to 1 MLS would be $350. A rough estimate of 1,000 MLS x $350 for access = $350K. And if that price point is no problem, I think [emphasis on think – I stopped digging into this option at this point] you have to be a realtor/have a real estate license to get access to a MLS.
- Real Estate data APIs like Trulia & Zillow. Using an API like Trulia or Zillow to get sales data was my idea for where to go to get historic home sales data by zip code. But when Anthony actually read the terms of service for the APIs, it was against the terms & service of the APIs for us to use them in such a way that we could pull all current & historic sales data for the US. Both Trulia & Zillow implement throttling limits, which I presume, prevents someone from downloading their entire database.
- National Association of Realtors. While they have home sales data, they don’t have it at the zip code level.
- Realtor.com. These guys never emailed or called me back.
- Update August 2020: Since I wrote this blog post, I’ve pulled home data from Attom Data before they were Attom Data (I can’t remember their old business name). And a prospect mentioned to me that that they would be sourcing vacant land data from Data Tree. So you might try these 2 companies as well.
I hope this information saves you some serious time, because it took me awhile to piece it all together. If you know of another way to get historic home sales data for US zip codes, please contact me. I’m interested!