Well-informed homebuyers leave no room for regrets. Housefax — an online real estate reporting service — gets that. It provides detailed property conditions useful to homebuyers who want to know more about a home before committing to a purchase agreement or a full home inspection report.

What is does

Housefax provides a detailed but easy-to-read report on a home’s history, including information such as:

  • building permit history;
  • the sales history of nearby homes as well as the home under consideration;
  • transaction history;
  • voluntary liens on the property;
  • a natural hazard risk report;
  • details of reported incidents occurring on the property, including fires and floods;
  • the distance from the home to the nearest fire station, which can affect home insurance premiums;
  • the distance from the home to earthquake faults and flood zones;
  • a list of past natural disasters which occurred near the property;
  • local gas prices;
  • the strength of cell phone service for various carriers which cover the property; and
  • the cable and utility companies that serve the property.

See for yourself by viewing a sample Housefax report.

All of this information is no substitute for a buyer’s agent fulfilling their due diligence obligations owed to their homebuyer. However, a Housefax report can aid an agent in discussing what actions a homebuyer may take if an adverse fact about the property is identified. The buyer’s agent has a duty to care for and protect their client’s best interests — beyond the standard property disclosures provided by the seller.

Further, the due diligence obligations of a seller’s agent include providing numerous forms and documents to verify the property’s conditions, including a property profile and a condition of property disclosure sheet, called a TDS. Therefore, most of the information provided by a Housefax report will already be included in these documents. It just won’t be as pretty.

The price

While the first report is free, a single, comprehensive report from Housefax costs $39. Or, components of the report can be ordered separately — a property history report for $9 or an insurance claims history for $19.

How it’s useful

For homebuyers: With a Housefax report, the buyer can ask informed questions of the seller to make sure the home isn’t hiding any surprises before going through the trouble of submitting an offer. The same information can then be used to ask the home inspector more detailed, technical questions after the offer has been accepted.

For sellers: Ordering a Housefax report on their own home can be a clever addition to a seller’s marketing package. Or, if the seller knows the property contains potential homebuyer deterrents, it can be helpful to let potential homebuyers know up front, rather than waste time with an uninformed homebuyer who will walk out of the deal once the full story of the home is known.

For real estate brokers and agents: Housefax can be a way to stand out from the competition by marking you as a proactive, forward-thinking agent. Let potential seller clients know you can pull a property history on their home to help them price their home right and market it to sell. Or, inform buyer clients of their option to order a property history for a home they may be on the fence about.

Our review

The best thing about Housefax is how quickly it works, aggregating public records into a friendly format in under a minute.

One caveat: only 70% of California properties are covered (less than is covered in most other states). So it’s not perfect — but if your client orders a report on a property that Housefax isn’t able to report on, they won’t be charged.

All in all, Housefax can be a handy tool for real estate agents looking to give their clients options for marketing to an increasingly information-hungry client base. It’s certainly not necessary for every transaction, but keep it in your back pocket.