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My World: Easy access to foreclosure data may change things...

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Properties SW, Inc.

So, you're going into foreclosure.  What an upsetting situation!  How can you keep your head up in public?  Well, at least the neighbors won't know until you actually leave.  Uh..., no wait. 

Everybody that has any interest will know just as soon as they visit the new Zillow feature which lists all such data.  Of course, the data was previously available through public records or from data aggregators, but not everybody was either knowledgeable enough or diligent enough to dig through the websites or courthouse records to find out.  Now your next door neighbor will be as likely to greet you in the morning with a question about when you're going to be evicted as they were previously likely to make an observation about the weather.

The easy access to foreclosure data is part of the general trend of our information society which makes access to previously difficult-to-find data easy.  Developments like this tend to change society, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.

Aside from the embarrassment suffered by those who have been reluctant to reveal their financial distress, the ease of access to foreclosure data will most likely put some data aggregators out of business.  Realtors who hope to benefit from foreclosures will be able to advertise with Zillow and may get some traction that way.

On the other hand, I suspect that many investors and flippers will access the data directly without the benefit of a Realtor.  The groups who post yellow bandit signs advertising that they purchase houses for cash are going to be able to use the data to approach property owners directly, avoiding the additional expense of a commission. 

Maybe I'm wrong, but I can't see this development as a positive for the real estate sales community.  Perhaps it could be viewed as a positive if it results in fewer homes actually going back to the banks, lowering the REO inventory, and increasing the general inventory of available homes.

What do you think?

Comments (9)

Elite Home Sales Team
Elite Home Sales Team OC - Corona del Mar, CA
A Tenacious and Skilled Real Estate Team

I think it is just another use of the internet to speed the info along.

Oct 28, 2012 01:23 AM
Eric Martell
RE/MAX Properties SW, Inc. - Orlando, FL

Elite Home Sales Team - indeed it will speed the info along.  It will make it available to all interested parties.  It may lead to embarassment for people who are behind in their mortgage payments.  The point that I'm really interested in is how it will impact the Realtor community.

Oct 28, 2012 01:26 AM
Cindy Jones
Integrity Real Estate Group - Woodbridge, VA
Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News

How accurate do you think the data will be?  Even Realty Trac doesn't have all the right data and they are they foreclosure "experts."


Oct 28, 2012 01:28 AM
Eric Martell
RE/MAX Properties SW, Inc. - Orlando, FL

Hi Cindy!  It may not be all that accurate.  I don't know.  I'd expect Zillow to use the same source as Realty Trac and to be rather careful about making mistakes.  On the other hand, judging from the errors that constantly crop up on some of the on-line data sources, it could be a real mess.

Oct 28, 2012 01:32 AM
Dan Hopper
Dan Hopper - Gold Way RE - Westminster, CO
Colorado Broker / Referral Services

Most of the investors and fix n flippers already know how to access foreclosure notices within the Counties.  So that information is is easily accessable to them, as well as Realtors.  I do believe that interested parties will use Zillow to view the information... as no different as they do now, and yes, they find misinformation, as well.  That's why they have called the real estate agents to get the updated info.

Oct 28, 2012 01:50 AM
Eric Martell
RE/MAX Properties SW, Inc. - Orlando, FL

Hi Dan - Good point!  Perhaps there will be little change.  Your reasoning is solid.  That would mean that the major impact will be only on those who wish to keep their financial distress quiet.  Now, is that good or bad from a societal point of view?  (It sure seems to be inevitable.)

Oct 28, 2012 02:07 AM
Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

I believe fear would rock all communities if they were to see the total numbers of scarlet letter "F" on all affected homes.  That would be especially true here in Florida Eric.  Eyes would be attuned to those "yellow bandit signs" much more so.   

Oct 28, 2012 02:09 AM
Kathy Stoltman
Ventura, CA

I am not sure how accurate the Zillow data will be.  It will not be monitored as well as Foreclosure Radar, etc,  so I think we will still be needed for accurate information.

Oct 28, 2012 02:53 AM
Eric Martell
RE/MAX Properties SW, Inc. - Orlando, FL

Good points, Kevin and Kathy!

Oct 28, 2012 10:06 AM