What Has Happened to Privacy in Real Estate?

By
Managing Real Estate Broker with San Diego Previews Real Estate CA BRE# 01101958

Years ago, when we put our first home on the market, I insisted that the Realtor put NO SIGN in our yard.

I did not want neighbors to know that we were selling or cause any disruption in our neighborhood. Our agent tried to explain the importance of a sign, but I was the incalcitrant client–and we ended up selling the home with NO SIGN.

This of course, was before the internet and Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia and all the other listing aggregators. And in those days, the wish for privacy was something that was respected by almost all.

At that time, I mostly wanted to protect our privacy–and didn’t want to have to answer questions or be the subject of neighborhood gossip.

Fast forward to 2012, and grocery shoppers have not only to contend with the revelations of tell-tale rags in the checkout lines, they can also hop onto to the Trulia or Zillow sites and see which of their neighbors have fallen behind on house payments and could be facing foreclosure--or already have. Equally likely (and rarely assumed by the real estate novice), they may simply be trying to negotiate a loan modification with their lender WHO MAY HAVE ADVISED THEM THEY NEED TO BE DELINQUENT IN THEIR MORTGAGE PAYMENTS before they will be considered for a modification in the terms of their loan.

Also possible, the family may simply have fallen on hard times and are suffering enough embarrassment and pain without Zillow and Trulia posting up their delinquent mortgage status for all to see. Moreover, their home may already be listed as a short sale with their Realtor. continue reading

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Rainer
282,545
Jennifer Manchester
Suburban Properties of Charlotte, LLC - Mint Hill, NC
GRI, ePRO, ASP - Broker/Home Stager

Gone are the days of privacy and disgression.  I am shocked (still) when I am out in public or at a function and some one I know is aware of a particular situation regarding a distressed homeowner or piece of property,  and they expect me to join in and give them juicy details!  I usually play stupid and say I was unaware of that particular situation and tell them they have access to the same information I do.  Even when I short sale a property I am very careful and make sure I do not violate agency laws to disclose information that is not relevant or necessary.

Nov 02, 2012 01:10 AM #14
Rainer
133,027
Rob Renk
Center Street Lending - McKinney, TX
AE | Fast Fix/Flip Loans for Residential Investors

It is sad that so much inforamtion is readily available about each one of us.  it is something I try not to hink about, but it is out there for all to see.

Nov 02, 2012 01:35 AM #15
Rainmaker
837,532
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Hi Roberta, we think it is just a fact of the modern era where "everything" is available on the internet.

Nov 02, 2012 01:51 AM #16
Rainer
106,674
Dana Cottingame
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Dallas, TX

I just got a birthday card from a Quick Car repair store I have never visited.  Too much information. I don't lie about my age, but do I need cards with discounts from total strangers?  Sad state of affairs.

 

Nov 02, 2012 02:06 AM #17
Rainmaker
685,125
Cynthia Larsen
Cotati, CA
Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA

Sadly, public records are just that. And now with the internet, they are at everyone's fingertips. No, there is no privacy when it comes to documents that are required to be filed and recorded.

Nov 02, 2012 02:14 AM #18
Rainmaker
197,711
Roberta Murphy
San Diego Previews Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
Carlsbad Real Estate and Homes

Like most of you, I grew up in a household where discussion of personal finances with strangers was off limits--and it still affects my thinking today.  Again, I worry about the damage this disparaging news might have on families and children.  I'm also aware that if someone wants to scour public records, they could find most of this information on their own--but most do not.  It is now available with click of a mouse,

Nov 02, 2012 02:18 AM #19
Rainmaker
1,530,045
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I don't discuss finances even with my friends. Nor do I discuss personal issues - like religion or a visit to a doctor. And... I don't want to know those things about other people.

Nov 02, 2012 03:04 AM #20
Rainmaker
223,718
Liane Thomas -Top Listing Agent
BROKER Allison James Estates & Homes BRE 01885684 - Corona, CA
Bringing you Home!

I recently received an email that had a list of the things that will disappear in my lifetime. One of those things was "Privacy". Sadly, I think it is true...with all of our records being on a computer somewhere, someone has access to everthing about you with the click of a mouse.

Nov 02, 2012 04:17 AM #21
Rainer
61,819
Sharon Sanchez
Ace Home Realty - Carson, CA
Your Number "1" Source For Real Estate.

Hi Roberta in California anybody could find out if a home is in foreclosure by going to the County Recorders Office and looking it up....but the average person won't do that because it's too time consuming and difficult.

However I don't agree with Zillow and Trulia making it so easy for anyone to research the status of your property.  That's not a good thing.

Nov 02, 2012 04:36 AM #22
Rainer
97,472
Larry and Marilyn Mennetti
FIVE STAR REAL ESTATE - East Grand Rapids, MI

I LOVE THE SELLER WHO SAY THEY DON'T WANT A SIGN...THEY DON'T WANT THE NEIGHBORS TO KNOW THEY ARE SELLING....WHAT DO THE SELLERS THINK THE NEIGHBORS ARE WONDERING WHEN THEY SEE A CAR WITH PEOPLE COME TO THE DOOR AND LET THENSELVES IN, THEN WALK ALL AROUND THE OUTSIDE AND LOOK AT EVERY ASPECT OF THE HOME, THEN MAYBE COME BACK AGAIN THE NEXT DAY FOR ANOTHER SHOWING....THEN SEE ANOTHER GROUP AND ANOTHER GROUP AND ANOTHER GROUP ALL DO THE SAME THING????....HEY MARTHA, THE NEIGHBORS MUST BE GETTING PAINTING AND ROOFING BIDS, LOTS OF PEOPLE COMING TO DO THE BID TOO....YEAH RIGHT!!!....AIN'T NO SUCH THING AS PRIVACY IN REAL ESTATE  FOR VERY LONG...THAT IS.

Nov 02, 2012 04:59 AM #23
Rainmaker
1,513,477
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

Privacy is a thing of the past - good or bad - technology has changed that forever!

Nov 02, 2012 05:48 AM #24
Rainer
173,437
Angela & Stephen Hardiman / HouseTie.com
HouseTie.com - Spokane, WA
When first impressions count...

Roberta, great post and we can understand your point. It is incredibly hard now to stay a private person.  Gary is right though, privacy is a thing of the past. 

Nov 02, 2012 07:27 AM #25
Rainer
293,375
Nan Jester
Exit Real Estate Gallery Jacksonville Beach, FL - Jacksonville Beach, FL
Realtor, Exit Real Estate Gallery

I do think that a sign helps sell a house. I can totally see why someone selling their home would not want one in certain circumstances, though.

Nov 02, 2012 08:31 AM #26
Rainmaker
1,059,537
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

Roberta,  it is becoming more impossible to maintain a low profile every day.  Everyone has a computer with them and it seems they are always checking someone out!  It is easy to find information about anybody. I find all of the websites far too invasive.

Nov 02, 2012 02:09 PM #27
Ambassador
636,256
Larry Lawfer
YourStories Realty Group powered by Castles Unlimited® - Newton, MA
"I listen for a living." It's all about you.

There is no privacy in today's world.  It takes some getting used to.  The world has changed and the big brother of 1984 book fame is really FaceBook, Google and other large companies that we willingly put all our informtation into.

Nov 04, 2012 12:00 AM #28
Rainmaker
190,566
DEBORAH STONE
Balboa Real Estate San Diego, CA - San Diego, CA

Roberta---

Before the internet, privacy was real---now it's just not possible. Even if you are not a Realtor, or selling your home----if you do any shopping or banking online, or have any online presence---you can forget about your privacy. My grocer even knows what I have for dinner I am sure. And medical records, financial info---then add Facebook & the entire world knows me. I don't have anything to hide, but I agree with you---privacy is a thing of the past & we just have to get used to it. One upside is that there is SO much info out there, no one can spend the time sifting/researching etc. and who knows how much of it is really true?

 

Nov 04, 2012 07:01 AM #29
Rainmaker
809,907
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA

Roberta:

You are right, there is very little privacy in a real estate transaction now.  One can still elect to have no sign, but the internet will tell all anyway.

Nov 08, 2012 06:00 AM #30
Rainmaker
273,464
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

There is not much secrecy now days. If they think they can make a buck, any information is circulated.

Dec 10, 2012 12:33 PM #31
Rainer
84,237
Brad Baylor
ERA Coup Agency - Milton, PA

Roberta - Trulia and Zillow are completely out of line with what they are doing to people.  Pre-foreclosures are listed on their sites.  What the hell is a pre-foreclosure?  I know I would plenty PO'd if I saw my house listed like that.  Something needs to be done about that, and the sooner the better.

Dec 28, 2012 12:13 AM #32
Rainmaker
922,018
Thomas J. Nelson, Realtor, ePRO, CRS, RCS-D
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

I enjoyed your blog and agree with it, to your points. I do see your privacy point, and although it was less accessible back in the day, all the issues you mention have always been public knowledge. I think it's just easier to find out what was always avaialble for the person who put out the effort. Regarding the sign, my buyer has often been the friend or family member of a neighbor to the subject property, so I see neighboehood "gossip" as free marketing :)

1984

Feb 24, 2015 10:08 PM #34
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Roberta Murphy

Carlsbad Real Estate and Homes
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