Here in Southern California many home buyers are going the traditional route of visiting open houses to find out what is on the market, and to see it firsthand. Those same home buyers often head home to their computers or spend a significant amount of time searching for property online.
However, many consumers do not know that their personal information is being sold to Real Estate Agents, Lenders, and practically every other industry that is interested in that person’s intention to eventually purchase a home.
These schemes to harvest and sell your personal information are perpetrated by companies who often spend a significant amount of money on television advertising to encourage consumers to use their sites to search for properties. They usually force you to sign in and create an account on their real estate search website in order for you to proceed. At the moment that a consumer creates an account, they are no longer a person, but they are now called “a lead”.
Leads are sold from the websites to real estate agents, lending companies, and even credit companies. Along with all of the relevant information that you provided about yourself.
Let’s face it, when you are searching for your next home, it is going to save you a ton of time to do research online.
The key is to establish a relationship with a Realtor first, and avoid having your personal details become a commodity. You can safely give the relevant information to a Realtor, who will then set you up with a sanctioned website that provides a friendly search to you. Many times this is part of the Realtor’s own website. (Or from a reputable company)
Finding a Realtor first gives you back the control over your personal information, and ensures that you did not fall into the trap of becoming a lead and have your personal data sold in a number of secondary markets across the internet.
A Growing Problem It’s Feeling Pressure from All Sides Realtors and consumer advocacy groups alike are shunning the lead generation sites that misuse the consumer’s private information. It takes awareness on the part of consumers to be fully effective.
Finally, if a website forces you to exchange your information to search for available homes, put on the brakes, turn around, and call a professional Realtor.