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Real Estate Sales: All Lies, or Finally a Hot Dose of Truth?

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When is a $1 million apartment sale suddenly a $1.75 million apartment sale? When it's at 10 West 66th Street, and right now! ACRIS, the Department of Finance's online Automated City Register Information System we (and StreetEasy, and PropertyShark, and brokers, and countless others) use to peruse recent real estate transactions and dig up records, has changed the way it displays property sales, throwing the world into chaos. Or not. Depends on whom you ask. The Real Deal got to the bottom of the shift, which happened back in March. The "document amount" field in ACRIS?the number listed most places as the total recorded sale price?now includes not only the "cash consideration" for the property, but also any other tabs picked up by the buyer?closing costs, underlying mortgages, muffin baskets, etc. Hence, a $1M apartment sale suddenly upped to $1.75M. Some see this "total consideration" as a more accurate portrayal of a property's real value, while others favor the chaos theory.

Of course many apartments are unaffected, but the ones that are will make things wonky for price-per-square-foot and other popular metrics. UrbanDigs's Noah Rosenblatt is especially pissy about ACRISgate:

"In my opinion, it's meddling with transparency [and] will make future appraisals and individual property valuations more difficult," said blogger Noah Rosenblatt, the founder of the Manhattan property consulting and analytics company UrbanDigs. Rosenblatt said closing costs in particular shouldn't be viewed as part of the price, even if they are shouldered by the buyer instead of the seller.

"Transaction costs should not be included in the recorded sales price," he said. "Buyers want to know where the bid-ask met, not the all-in transactional cost."

Cause for panic, or something to let the brokers squabble over?
· What's behind leap in recorded sales prices? [Real Deal]