Contract date is not used because the terms of sale are not final until the settlement occurs. Deed recording date is not used because that just says more about the settlement company and government agency involved in actually recording the sale, in the MD/DC/VA area deeds can be recorded anywhere from the day after settlement up to several months afterwards.
The date the property was sold. When the new buyers get the keys to their new property. That is the actual date, not the date the contract was signed; there could be lots of land mines between that date and the actual closing. Not the date of recording, that is an artificial date based on the promptness of the closing agents and the recorders office.
When you buy a new car do you drive it off the lot or wait for the license bureau to send you new plates? Similar thinking applies here.
he sale date is what the MLS uses. On new construction, I will generally give both dates as there may be a significant difference in time in contract was signed before or at beginning of construction vs. the last 2 weeks.
I use the date of recording because of the Arizona laws. We can not gain access to the HUD 1 and the title company can not provide us with any information that is not recorded. Also neither the agent or the title company can disclose any thing that is on the HUD 1. If the sale goes through MLS there is a pending date noted some times in the listing that could be used, but it may or may not be correct because it is only entered when the agent remembers to do that. And here in my area with approximately 60% FSBOs, none of those are available. So the answer to the poll is going to be what ever is legal and available for your specific area.