SAINT PAUL, Minn., Nov. 17, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Homebuyers have never been able to compare the true cost of owning one home versus another, until now. Local Realtors throughout Minnesota and Western Wisconsin for the first time can show consumers the "true costs" of homeownership, using powerful new technology provided by NorthstarMLS.

By contacting a local Realtor®, a consumer will be able to search and compare their TLC or "True Lifestyle Cost" to own a home among more than 35,000 single-family homes listed for sale today on NorthstarMLS. This new information resource shows that sometimes homes priced the same, but located in different towns, can have significantly different total costs of ownership. Moreover, sometimes more expensive home options yield lower total costs of homeownership.

"Most people buy a home based solely on the size of their mortgage payment and property tax rates," said Claire Killen, Broker/Owner of Emerald Real Estate in Minneapolis and Chair of NorthstarMLS. "But that's only about two-thirds of the true monthly cost to own, which can vary house-to-house based on so many factors: Commuting expenses, different auto insurance rates, utility bills, daycare costs, family size and so much more," Killen added.

To close this information gap, Realtors use TLCengine integrated into NorthstarMLS. Each NorthstarMLS listing now includes the powerful TLC calculator and reports to help consumers with the information they need to compare the true costs among properties when shopping for a home.

This new technology takes "big data" – which includes over 31 unique lifestyle cost variables – to help local Realtors show consumers a benchmark to compare ownership costs among different homes, customized to each consumer's search criteria.

For example, one spouse may work for Target in downtown Minneapolis, while the other spouse works for Cargill in Wayzata. If they want to compare homes listed for sale in Edina, a communities located between their places of employment, a "True Lifestyle Cost" or TLC search with their Realtor can yield two homes with the same price – but the difference in the cost to own can be as much as $250 a month or more (see image). After just a few years, that's a difference of thousands of dollars.

Krishna Malyala, founder of TLCengine, explains these cost estimates help local Realtors provide consumers real world data that will get even more accurate over time.

"This cost engine gets smarter and smarter as local agents will be able to add the actual expenses provided by the seller for every home they list," Malyala said. "We're turning big data into smart data through expert crowdsourcing," he added.

Killen believes consumers will benefit immediately from this breakthrough technology, noting anyone can get access to this valuable decision-making tool by contacting a local real estate agent who is a member of NorthstarMLS.

"This will help bring more clarity to the home buying process," she said. "Consumers will see for themselves that buying a bigger home in the suburbs that is priced less may actually cost more than living in the city, when you roll up all the costs, including commuting, parking, gas and insurance," Killen explained.

Killen points out that the new TLCengine data will "lift the veil" allowing Realtors to show consumers how the cost to own can vary greatly among homes that are priced the same, with the same features and neighborhood amenities. Realtors will be able to help consumers compare home costs among different neighborhoods and different cities.
Home buyers are encouraged to contact their local Realtor®for a free TLC (True Lifestyle Cost) report. Local agents have access to the reports through NorthstarMLS, which operates throughout Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.

"When a consumer can see what it really costs to own a home, they will be able to make a better purchase decision and that's crucial. Buying a home is likely the biggest financial decision they'll ever make and they no longer have to make that decision with less than 70% of the information," Killen said.

About NorthstarMLS®

NorthstarMLS® supports close to 15,000 REALTORS® and appraisers in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin, providing participating real estate brokers and agents with fast and reliable in-formation services and resources that makes local property markets perform efficiently and effectively for both buyers and sellers. NorthstarMLS® facilitated more than 69,800 real estate transactions valued at $15.1 billion in 2013 and provided access for real estate professionals to more than 45,000 Active listings, more than 1.4 million comparable and sold properties, and mil-lions of property records from all Minnesota and Wisconsin counties.  NorthstarMLS is owned and operated by the Regional Multiple Listing Service of Minnesota, Inc. (RMLS).  RMLS is owned by the REALTOR® shareholder associations of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and provides services and support to the Western Wisconsin REALTORS® Association, St. Cloud Area As-sociation of REALTORS® and the Greater Lakes Association of REALTORS®.

About TLCengine

TLCengine provides a patent-pending TLC (True Lifestyle Cost) engine that takes into account 31 different lifestyle cost variables, helping real estate agents for the first time provide consumers with the "true costs" of home ownership. Local real estate agents help home shoppers use this technology to compare the real "cost to own" among homes in different neighborhoods and cities. Founded by Krishna Malyala, a Keller Williams agent and former technology VP at Citigroup, TLCengine launched in 2013 at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, the industry's leading technology conference, and was one of 23 firms selected for Connect's Startup Alley.

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Media Contact:
Kevin Hawkins
WAV Group Communications
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