Privacy and real estate, can that go together?
When you own a house, everything is registered publicly – even your mortgage information. It’s an interesting question, then, to verify if privacy in real estate actually exists?
One sure way to get a conversation to become quite dull and slow, is to bring up the topic of real estate privacy. Nobody is really interested in chatting about that too much, let alone to have an in-depth conversation about something so seemingly boring and negative.
REAL ESTATE AND PRIVACY
Actually, it’s a very good idea to be aware of privacy issues in real estate. This will become evident in a flash if you imagine to have been slighted by a fast-talking smooth real estate professional, who gave away so much personal information about you that your negotiating position has been damaged.
It’s not so long ago that a real estate professional wouldn’t think twice about disclosing to a prospective buyer (or their agent) that the sellers were having financial troubles – or that they are getting a divorce. Imagine how much that can cost you in negotiations?
The opposite of the spectrum holds true too. Imagine that you are the buyer and that you just told your agent that you really need to live on a certain street because you want to send your kid to this-or-that school. Or that you need to be there because the rest of your family live around the block. That’s all fine but it goes directly to motivation. Because of these facts, you might be willing to pay more for the property than you would have otherwise. If your agent gives that private information to the seller or the seller’s agent, then you just had your privacy violated and your negotiating position compromised.
AGENCY AND PRIVACY ARE NOW INTERTWINED
These days, a good agent knows how to keep his/her mouth shut. That’s the long and short of it – we are not to disclose personal information. It’s private. In day-to-day real estate practice, people ask a lot of questions that MAY impinge on the other party’s privacy, when answered. Here are some examples:
The BUYER asks:
- HOW LONG HAS THE HOUSE BEEN ON THE MARKET (this is actually public information so it may be disclosed);
- WHY ARE THEY SELLING (this is private information so it may NOT be disclosed).
The SELLER asks:
- THOSE BUYERS, WHERE ARE THEY FROM? (usually, this is public information so it may be disclosed);
- THOSE BUYERS, CAN THEY AFFORD THIS HOUSE? (usually, this is not public information so we can’t discuss it).
The real issue of privacy matters is now framed in the Privacy Code of the Canadian Real Estate Association. It deals with how we collect and hold YOUR private information. A good read is the following information page: http://www.menno.ca/?page_id=25
MORE blog articles about real estate and the law can be found here:
Referral networks explained: http://www.menno.ca/?p=9591
Legal problems with false mortgage applications: http://www.menno.ca/?p=9493
Buying a house before selling your old one: http://www.mennorealty.ca/Blog.php/selling
Playing the blame game: http://www.mennorealty.ca/Blog.php/blame