The most accessible source of information on comparable sales for the public are closed sales is the county’s public record system. The public records include all sales, even ones that don’t go through Realtors and are thus not entered into the MLS.
When someone buys a home the property is deeded from the seller to the buyer. In most circumstances, this deed is recorded at the local county recorder’s office. They combine sales data with information already known about the property so they can assess property taxes correctly.
The information available from the public record is usually correct regarding sales price, square footage, and numbers of rooms, but additional details that available in the MLS are not readily available on public records.
Accessing the data is another matter, at least for the general public. Real Estate Professionals can generally look up this information through their MLS system. The public can access the information through certain county websites. For example, in Collier County, Florida everyone can access closed property information using the Collier County Appraiser’s website.
One problem with the public record is that it tends to run several weeks behind. Data from the MLS is almost immediate. When a property closes it is entered in the same day or close to the actual closing date.