Online privacy as it relates to selling your home is a simmering issue just waiting to boil over. Safeguards side, once information is on the Internet, current wisdom is to consider it public because controlling where that information goes and how it gets used becomes almost impossible.
Most consumers are, at some level, familiar with the “Multiple Listing System.” Actually, there is no one system, but they all tend to follow certain patterns and practices. Understand that the original purpose of the MLS was to provide a way for Realtors to exchange information amount themselves about properties they had listed for sale. We used to carry around a large book (catalog). Thanks to technology we now access that information on the Internet.
Technology has also opened the door to making much of the information available to the public. In the rush to provide value to listing clients, consumer sites such as Realtor.com have exploded in popularity and numbers and all are vying for the buyers’ attention. When your property is listed and “inputted” to the MLS, the information often “flows through” to these consumer sites automatically. Buyers from around the world can “check out” your home for sale.
Like all good things, there’s a downside. Some of those sites are trying to attract buyers by offering additional capabilities and services. Initially, “area information” and satellite views were the features. Recently, some of these sites started offering “estimates of value” based on available data and the ability for the public to post comments regarding properties listed.
This ought to give you pause.
The good news is that current regulations require you to give your permission for many of these “enhancements.” It might not matter to you that people can view a satellite photo of your property. You might want to think twice about inviting people to write personal comments regarding it.
It’s important to remember that your listing agreement is supposed to be what you agree to, not merely a form you sign after checking boxes. I would offer you the same advice I give students in classes: “READ the contract!” (Repeat that three times.) Don’t just agree or check “yes.” THINK!