Opinions and Personal Info.
The incredible power of the internet, combined with the consumer’s insatiable appetite for information and transparency, has spawned some amazing tools and applications that put information at the fingertips of everyone…instantly. One only needs to look at the explosive growth of smart phones and tablet computers (and their corresponding apps) to see what kind of power the consumer now has at the fingertips. Want to know where the nearest Starbucks is? It’s just a click away. Want to know who has the cheapest price on a particular brand of toaster? Ditto.
This technology has slowly found its way into real estate, and it has effectively been a game-changer for buyers and sellers alike. Websites now aggregate all kinds of information about a home — tax records, listing history, neighborhood info, etc — and feed it to the consumer instantly in a single web page. It has revolutionized the industry for the better.
But technology, transparency, and the exponential growth in the popularity of “social media” come at a price — namely, your privacy. Now, there’s much more about you and your home that is being put on the internet… whether you want it there or not.
Redfin to Post Agent’s Opinions.
Redfin is one of those companies that has done an admirable job of aggregating useful information onto a single page. I’ve never been a fan of their “agent bashing” since they started the company, but they have consistently been a leader in pushing the envelope on web-based real estate — and for that they deserve kudos.
But in the spirit of bleeding-edge transparency, Redfin just announced that they will begin posting their agent’s comments and opinions about other broker’s listings on their website. If one of their agents tours your home, they’re free post comments about it — both positive and negative — on their site.
Redfin’s comments and opinions will only be available to people who subscribe to their Agent Insights program, so it’s not being broadcast freely across their site. But the comments are up there, and they’re only a password away from anyone seeing it. It makes one wonder what kind of liability ensues if a seller feels that a negative comment is keeping buyers away, and consequently decreases the desirability of their home?
BlockShopper: Your Info Broadcast to Everyone.
I first wrote about BlockShopper back in May of 2010 when I discovered a very revealing article about one of my clients just after they sold their home. In almost a press-release type of manner, it was a full description of their home, where each client was currently employed, and a list of their educational background. It seems very logical that this information was pulled from their personal profiles on the various social networking sites — LinkedIn and Facebook being the two most likely.
But it’s yet another example of how information about you and your home can be aggregated and blasted out on the internet for anyone to see.
Too Much Transparency?
These are just two of many examples of how transparency and technology cross over the ethical boundary. I’ve even seen other Realtors occasionally post disparaging comments on Twitter about a listing they recently toured. Um, that’s a big no-no.
So how do you feel about this new level of transparency? Is it beneficial to everyone to know that your lawn is not cut or that your house needs new paint? Or is it an ever-increasing invasion of privacy?
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