Whether you have just started searching for a home to purchase in Texas or have been looking for a while, you may be wondering “Is Texas a non disclosure state?” You might also be wondering what that means.
Below, we tackle the definition of Texas non disclosure in this blog along with ideas for how to best approach the home buying process and get around home sale prices not being available in the public record.
Updated for 2022: Since publication in Nov 2020, there have been a few developments on this issue, which we’ve covered below.
What is Non disclosure?
Twelve states in the United States are non disclosure states when it comes to real estate transactions. This includes Texas and our neighbors to the east and west, New Mexico and Louisiana. The best way to understand Texas non disclosure is to compare it to the 38 disclosure states in the country.
In those states, the sale price of a property becomes a matter of public record once the property officially changes ownership. Home appraisers, brokers, and other real estate professionals use those home price public records to determine if they agree with the assigned value of the property or not. Having this information is extremely useful during the buying and selling process.
The opposite situation occurs with Texas non disclosure laws. When a real estate transaction takes place, the county clerk does not record it and make it a matter of public record. You should not take this to mean that you have no way of viewing the information. However, county officials cannot release sales price data to members of the public. Because of its status as a non disclosure state, no person in Texas can force another person to release real estate pricing data.
Are Home Sales Public Record in Texas?
If you haven’t figured it out, we’ll put it plainly: no. Home sale prices are not currently in the public record, nor can anyone access that data without explicit approval from their local board of realtors.
Common Home Buyer Concerns in Non disclosure States
Some home buyers worry that they may pay more for a property than its actual value if they do not have an opportunity to view the appraised value and last sold price. Buyers do sometimes pay more than the listing price when several parties bid on the same property. That is perfectly legal and legitimate. As your realtor, I am committed to your best interests and will always advise you accordingly whether to make an offer on a home or not.
A common misconception with Texas non disclosure law is that pricing data is completely confidential. This is not the case. State law only prohibits government employees from disclosing the information to the public. The law also applies to local appraisal districts.
Why Real Estate Professionals Want to Keep It Private
Recently, in Hays County along the I35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio, county appraiser were unlawfully given access to local MLS data through a service called CoreLogic, which is an MLS data broker.
According to reporting by the TheRealDeal website, “In 2019, ABoR reached a settlement with CoreLogic over claims that the data provider was selling home sales data to the Travis County Appraisal District. CoreLogic is the real estate association’s MLS provider.”
Cord Shiflet, Austin Board of Real Estate spokesperson said, “We know things are done differently here, and that might be frustrating to some people,” Shiflet said. “We simply do not disclose sold prices for public use. That is private information. Texans are very private people, and we value our privacy. We will fight very hard to make sure we retain that privacy and the trust that buyers and sellers put in us to keep that data private.”
So, in some ways this penchant for privacy is baked into Texas’ culture.
How to Navigate the Homebuying Process without Knowing Sold Price Data
One of the most practical pieces of advice I can offer is to only set up showings for homes you know you can afford. It is also a good idea to obtain a pre-approval letter from a mortgage lender to give you a better idea of the loan amount you could receive. You might also want to inquire about how your lender would structure monthly mortgage payments to make sure they fit into your budget.
If you feel concerned about not knowing the home value or last sales price before making an offer, the good news is that I can obtain that information through a real estate multiple listing service (MLS). An MLS is a database of information about all homes for sale by licensed real estate agents and brokers. Real estate professionals with access to MLS listings update them frequently with property data from their own geographic location. I would be happy to access sales data for any property where you are considering extending an offer to the seller.
Need more help as a homebuyer?
Get in touch with Bo Ward to get assistance navigating the home buying process in Texas as a non-disclosure state.