WARNING: Your Austin Home’s Sales Price is No Longer Private

chained-up-home-244x300Your home sale’s pants are officially down

There’s a new trend with Austin area Brokerages and you may not like it one bit.  Through a loophole in the rules from our local MLS system, but contrary to the spirit of the rules, a few Austin area Real Estate Brokerages are now publishing data from all home sales reported within the MLS.  ALL SALES.  Not just sales from within their company.  That means that what you paid for your home bought from an MLS listing is out there for anyone to see.  How do you feel about that?

Wait, is that legal?

Texas is a non-disclosure state, meaning that home sale data is not required to be public information like it is in some states, like New York.  This new trend is not only against the spirit of our local MLS rules, it also breaks the spirit of the laws currently in place in Texas.  They are are not breaking these laws, in fact, with a loophole it is completely legal for them to do so.  In short… Legal?  Yes.  Ethical?  Not so much.

Why should Realtors® have all the data?

For me, this is a problem.  Not because I’m old-school and believe that Realtors® are the keepers of all data because in this day and age, we are not.  Go ahead, search the MLS all you want.  When someone wants to sell their home, it makes sense that this information should be easily marketed and available to anyone looking.  I know that without a Realtor® as the gatekeeper to MLS listings like it was in the stone-age of real estate that some buyers will go at it alone.  Heck, some sellers do my hiring a limited service agent to put their home in MLS without any additional representation.  These aren’t the types of clients that we cater to, although there are some brokerages in Austin with business models that do.  We are a full-service brokerage with a quality over quantity philosophy.  That means we intend to stay a small, boutique firm in order to provide you with the best, most personal service possible.  Some companies are all about numbers.  We are all about meeting and exceeding client’s goals and expectations, whatever they may be.  At larger firms, the one-size-fits-most philosophy doesn’t allow for custom-tailored service — that’s what sets us apart, not our ability to look up what properties are available.  Sellers with homes actively marketed should have the option to list their homes in MLS where the public can easily find and see them.  It’s not for all listings, but it is for most.

However, as a small, full-service brokerage with the ability to custom-tailor services, we have a lot of clients with with privacy concerns that larger brokerages cannot address.  Trust me, I used to work for one.  TMZ called constantly and hot-to-trot agents and receptionists were happy to spill sensitive information that another agent with a celebrity client had spilled.  Listings were required to fit a cookie-cutter marketing plan which was not best for unique, ultra-high-end properties.  No matter how profile a client is, privacy is important to us.  HouseHomeSoldSaleThere are plenty of low-profile Austinites who still highly value privacy.  That means that some want their home marketed entirely out of the MLS system.  We do this all of the time.  Since Aria Realty was founded, at least 50% of our sales have occurred without the aid of the MLS as a tool.  That means we are selling private listings through networking and our client-base and are finding homes for buyers before they hit MLS or are listed privately.  Not all agents and not all brokerages can cater to this.

Sellers have always had to choose of they wanted their home listed in the MLS or not, this makes that choice even more difficult.  Currently, MLS rules do not allow a home to be listed in MLS without the sales price also being reported.  That means that an ultra-private buyer will no longer be considering your MLS-listed home.  There are a million reasons for a buyer’s (or even a seller’s) privacy whether they are a public figure or not that can even include safety.  The Texas law has always protected private sales, but a few Brokerages have put their own business head of the spirit of Texas law and Texan’s privacy.


Why would they publish this sales data?

Brokerages offering this information operate under a business model of internet leads.  It all comes down to numbers, the more internet leads they get, the more potential clients.  It’s not the way we do business, but I can respect that other brokerages operate under other models.  There are clients for their model as well as our referral-based one.  There is no one-size-fits-all plan for the needs of every single client on every single sale.  Numbers games aren’t our thing, but they have been an integral part of sales since, well, way before sliced-bread.

What bothers me is the complete disregard for the respect of data that could be sensitive to many people who sold their homes before brokerages were using this loop-hole to publish data.  Buyers with privacy concerns felt that this data was under lock and key and now it is published for anyone to see.  That seems like a blatant violation of privacy to me and certainly isn’t worth a few extra people signed up for our email list.

What do you think?

Should sales prices and dates be out there for everyone to see?  What about sales data that occurred under the pretense that this data was secure?  Of course, this helps further line the pockets of third-party money-makers like Trulia & Zillow who previously didn’t have access to this data unless it was offered to them by Realtors® (which many have offered in exchange for higher rankings or other perks on their sites).  Their data is notoriously inaccurate without actual reported sales data.  Of course, in an effort to dominate the web for Austin’s real estate market, haven’t these brokerages just offered this data to these competing website giants?

It all stinks for me.  Listing data should be public.  Private data like sales information should not be public.  There will now be more interest in private sales which will undermine the integrity of MLS data for home appraisals and competitive market analysts pricing.

Want your data to remain private?

Aria Realty does MILLIONS in private sales each year for high-end and entry-level clients alike.  Whether you’re a high-profile celebrity or value privacy for personal reasons, we’ve got you covered.

Aria Kilpatrick

About Aria Kilpatrick

Native to Austin and 2nd-generation Austin Real Estate Expert specializing in Historic & Mid-Century Modern homes, unique & luxury properties, custom & new homes, and lots & land in the Austin area.

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