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Real Estate Web Sites That Sell Your Information

May 13th, 2012 · 2 Comments · Santa Barbara Real Estate

What could be more innocent then going on-line and looking at homes for sale? The San Francisco Chronicle calls it the new pornography (Pornography leads in most web site hits followed by Real Estate) , a delicious way to waste away in Computerville! All these intimate photos of multi-million dollar homes and virtual tours. How fun is this? It’s all so simple and easy! Maybe not. You saw an ad on television or received a harmless looking email offering you property information by going to their web site. Which is a reasonable offering, unless of course, you have to provide any personal information. Once you’ve provided your address, phone number, or email your in the “system”. Don’t be surprised if your inundated with emails, snail mail, and phone calls while your having dinner. What happened? The back side of this is that your information is being sold to realtors, mortgage brokers, moving companies and anyone else remotely related to Read Estate that can use your personal information towards their own ends. Without subscribing to any of these web sites ,I receive no less than 10 emails a day that one of these web sites has “bona fide” leads for prospective buyer and sellers … for a price.

Journalist Carol Lloyd of the San Francisco Chronicle (Surreal Estate column in the Chronicle/Examiners Sunday Real Estate section) addressed this in an article titled “An Innocent E-mail is Bait in the Trap”. ” A lot of controversy has swirled around these models. For instance, real estate agents aren’t particularly happy with the notion that the MLS, arguably the industry’s most valuable asset, is being given away by a third party like Homegain.com, Zillow, and Trulia only to make money off the real estate agents who created the MLS in the first place. Among local real estate agents I spoke to, the whole lead generation industry has a less than stellar reputation. After going public on the Nasdaq, Housevalues.com was valued at more than $300 million dollars.” How did the National Association of Realtors and the California Association of Realtors allow this to happen and continue to? The model agreed to with NAR has not been honored by these 3rd party data vultures.

Care to bypass these web sites?

Realtor.com is the number one property search web site in the country. In the greater California GreatHomes.org is also a very popular web site for property searches without having to provide any personal information. And, if you already have a relationship with an agent, they can provide you with this information from their personal or company’s web site ,which I feel, is far superior to Realtor.com or GreatHomes.org.

Homevalues.com, Zillow, Trulia, LendingTree.com, RealEstate.com, JustListed.com, Homegain.com, ValueMyHouse.com, Reply.com, and SubmitSolution.com are just a few of the companies that offer to provide property information ,but there is a caveat, your personal information will be sold.

Consumer Beware! Your name, address, credit score, and even 7 digits of your social security number can be sold to a credit bureau immediately upon receiving an inquiry. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Equifax, Experian,Innovis and Transunion are permitted to include an enormous amount of your consumer information on databases they sell. This information can be sold immediately to any business willing to pay for it. Are you comfortable with that? As identity theft is quickly becoming one of the most common crimes in our country, we should all be concerned. Here is information that can help you avoid having your private consumer information sold: The only way to avoid the sale of your personal information is to officially OPT-OUT by visiting www.optoutprescreen.com and following the instructions to do so. When you get to the web site you will have 3 choices. 1.opt-in to the program (if you previously opted out, you can opt in), 2.opt-out for a period of 5 years, or 3. opt-out permanently. The website is maintained by the credit bureaus and has a “sales pitch” giving you all the reasons why you shouldn’t opt-out, but you can and should, if you do not want to have your consumer information sold.

And, if you’d like, this web site offers you the ability to search property listings WITHOUT having to register. If you’d like email updates on properties ,then you will have to register. But, your information will not be sold to anyone.

Mark Lomas

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