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Selling a House

How Does Real Estate Privacy Law Protect You?

When we think about privacy law, our minds tend to direct us to all those little checkboxes. Now consumers are starting to question real estate privacy law.

When we think about privacy law, our minds tend to direct us to things like healthcare HIPPA pamphlets and cybersecurity, with all those little checkboxes that we agree to but never read. Now consumers are starting to question real estate privacy law.

Eyes and Ears

Chances are you or someone you know has jumped on the trend of video doorbells, such as Ring, where the homeowners are “always home”. These are great security measures to protect your family and assets while you live in the home. However, they can also become an invasion of privacy when you are trying to sell your home.

In the age where cameras are everywhere, even as you drive down the road, you may be thinking, why would someone’s home be any different than the corner store’s “Smile, you’re on camera” posters? Real estate privacy law is making a fuss because things discussed during home showings could affect the agents’ ability to negotiate. If a seller were to hear conversations between the buyer and their agent regarding offer strategy, it could literally cost them.

Real estate privacy lawmakers are now recognizing the risk of surveillance during home sales. This is why they are educating Realtors on how to protect buyers and sellers. Home surveillance now needs to be disclosed by the sellers. Home surveillance doesn’t stop at video doorbells, but also security cameras. This includes baby monitors, nanny cams, smart thermostats, and home assistants with listening features, such as Amazon Alexa’s “drop-in” ability. 

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Public or Private

Another branch of real estate privacy law to consider is which information is out there for Tom, Dick, and Harry to see about you and/or your property. In turn, what information can Realtors legally (and ethically) give out? When buying a home, there are certain pieces of information that are a matter of public record and make sense. These items include:

  • Property Sales History
  • Tax Records
  • Facts and Features of the property 
  • Construction Details 
  • Utility information
  • HOA information
  • School district boundaries 

Areas that Real estate privacy law protects are the more personal pieces that are not relevant to the purchase of a property. These items are covered under The Fair Housing Act, as found in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines. This real estate privacy law states “The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial Status
Real Estate Privacy Law

Money (Shouldn’t) Talk

If you’ve ever bought or sold a home, you’re well aware that the number of hands touching the deal does not stop at your Realtor. You are making one of the largest investments of your life. Where you hear purchase, you hear money, and that brings us to yet another branch of real estate privacy law: financial institutions. This includes banks, mortgage loan originators, and real estate settlement providers to name a few. Unless otherwise noted, these real estate privacy laws are on a federal level.

Real estate privacy law limits the consumer information these institutions are allowed to share. Some items that your lender will need but should never be shared with other parties in the transaction (including your agent) :

  • Salary
  • Credit Score
  • Pay Stubs
  • Tax returns
  • Financial statements

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) adds another layer of education for Realtors. NAR aims to help agents protect their clients and contains comprehensive information on how real estate associations, agents, and brokers can prioritize data security and privacy to protect client information and comply with legal responsibilities.

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Protecting Your Private Information

Your financial and personal information is especially sensitive. Ensuring the safekeeping of your private information should be priority #1. It can be hard to determine the right ways to safeguard your data. We all use a variety of apps and programs, how is one able to tell which provide an emphasis on protecting your information? That is why we developed Transactly with privacy in mind;  you can rest assured knowing everything you do on the platform remains safe and confidential:

  • Information secured via firewall
  • SSL encryption
  • Security keys
  • Password authentication
  • Fraud monitoring, detection and prevention activities
  • Non-solicitation and protected client information clauses in TC contracts

Your private information is just that, your information. It is important to know the ins and outs of protecting your data.

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