The Implications Of Personal Data Sharing While Searching For A Home

Buying a home or browsing for one has never been easier or more convenient than with the Internet. Thanks to useful tools like filters, databases, and thousands of available realtors, anyone can buy a home from the comfort of their own home! This added ease and convenience is a godsend, but everything has its price. The world of online real estate is a vast one, plagued with many things including data theft and exploitation. The price of easily shopping for real estate online can be steep, but only if you don’t know where to look!

Data, especially your personal data, is the main bargaining chip of the internet. While collecting and sharing data may be necessary, there are some ramifications of misusing this necessity. If you’re looking to buy a new home online or you want to learn more about your personal data and how it’s linked to real estate, you’ve come to the right place! Here’s everything you need to know about your personal data and the implications of sharing it while browsing for homes online.

The purpose of data collection

Before getting into the nitty-gritty, it’s important to understand why data sharing and collection happen in the first place. The common misconception is that data collection is always an inherently bad thing. While it can be, collecting data also has many useful and important roles in any business or industry. Collecting data helps us problem-solve, find solutions, and use them to make the world a better place. The problem with data collection, especially in business, is when it’s done without consent or to harm the data provider.

It’s no secret that companies collect your data, whether online or offline. Whether you’re browsing homes, cellphones or CBD gummies, companies out there want to grab your attention and sell you their product. To do this, they have to collect a bit of information on you and your shopping habits, to know what works and what you’re more likely to buy. While collecting personal data on consumers may be necessary, selling it and taking advantage of it is not. There are many negative side effects of wrongful data collection and sharing of personal data.

Security issues

One of the main reasons why personal data sharing poses such a threat to the average consumer is because it poses a security issue. When you’re browsing property online, you leave behind a trail of data and information on yourself as a consumer. Anyone who wants to or has the right tools can track and follow the trail you leave behind.

Unless you protect yourself or cover your tracks, people on the internet can take advantage of you and your data. Your personal data online is your most valuable asset, and it can be used in many ways online to harm you. Here are some of the main ways online realtor platforms can take advantage of you, both as a shopper and a fellow realtor.

Selling your data

Many online property websites are no strangers to these malicious tactics and will not hesitate to profit from you. The biggest and most popular sites such as Redfin, Trulia, and even Zillow are the most guilty of this. These big property sites track and collect not only your online shopping habits but your personal data. Not only this, but they can also package and sell your personal data to the highest bidder for the same reason.

The highest bidder online for most industries are advertisers looking to sell you their products. By buying your personal data, advertisers can know exactly when, what, and where to market to you. While your real estate platform sells your data, they profit off of you and allow others to do the same. If you’re not careful, you could wind up falling prey to marketing tactics and techniques you didn’t even know were targeting you.

Manipulating your experience

Real estate websites can do more with your personal data than just sell it. With this sensitive data at their disposal, they can manipulate your browsing experience too. They will hide properties that they deem are “not fit for” you if they have something that suits them better. They will show you properties and houses that are more expensive than your budget, just because they know you’d go for them.

This is why it is so important to choose the right real estate site that protects your privacy and has your best interests at heart. With the right site, new home-for-sale alerts are based on statistics, not your private information. A website that values you as a customer will show you properties of value that you want to see without violating your privacy.

Expose you to other threats

If a property platform is willing to collect your personal information, there’s no telling what they might do with it. Besides selling it to advertisers, these companies can also sell your data to more dangerous and nefarious places. Your data can wind up in the hands of someone who wishes to do you personal harm through your online footprint. Whether it’s a hacker or cybercriminal, the wrong real estate site can expose you to other threats.

Whether by directly selling your data or gathering it in their databases, these websites can expose you to threats. Any database is liable to a break-in and if your online realtor is hoarding your personal information, it’s unsafe. Cybercriminals, hackers, and other online threats can target you and your data and threaten your safety.

Growing mistrust

The effects of misusing data sharing and collection can be felt by both the individual and the majority. With more and more real estate sites opting to misuse their customer’s data, more and more are turning away from online real estate. By selling their user’s phone numbers to their browsing history, these platforms are creating an unsafe and unpleasant environment.

This kind of environment affects both online realtors and future homeowners. It lowers and damages the reputation of online realtors making it harder for them to make a living and do their jobs. It makes the general public mistrust online realtors and stops them from finding the homes and properties they need. It’s getting harder and harder to trust anyone on the internet as is, and these malicious platforms are not making it any easier. This is why finding and supporting reputable online realtors is so important.

How to protect yourself

Now that you’re aware of all the security issues that are connected to sharing your data, it’s time to learn how to protect it. When browsing for homes or real estate online, there are many ways to keep your and your personal data safe. Keeping your personal information safe and creating a better environment for real estate online often go hand in hand. Here are some of the few key ways anyone can stay safe online while they browse and shop for real estate.

Value your data

The first step toward protecting your personal data when browsing real estate online is to learn how to value it. Understand that your data and personal information are your most valuable assets and learn to value them like money. Keep your personal data safe and guard it like you would a wallet or your bank details. Knowing the value of your data helps you stay safe online and out of trouble.

Learn that nothing on the internet is truly “free” and that if you’re using a “free” service, you’re often paying with your personal data. Services that have your best interest at heart as a consumer, may charge you a bit more, but it will be worth it. Value your data’s worth and take every “free” site or service you come across with a grain of salt.

Do your research

Learning the value of your personal data online is not enough to protect you from all the threats out there. To keep you and your personal information safe while searching for a home, you have to do your research. Start by looking into and familiarizing yourself with all the common tactics companies and sites can manipulate you.

Learn how to spot and identify the telltale signs of a shady website and know when to get out if you come across one. Understand more about your data, your browser, and your cookies to make sure you’re not falling into any traps. Look into reputable realtor platforms and sites as well as other technology you can use to protect yourself. A little research goes a long way when it comes to protecting yourself and your data online. Before signing up for anything, always, always, do your research!

Find the right site

As previously stated, the site you use to sell, browse, or buy real estate is important. When looking for a platform or website to use, make sure to always do a background check and research it. Start by looking for strong, all-around positive reviews with no reports of shady business. Look for sites that have no history of misusing their user’s personal information and stay well away from those that do.

Look for platforms that offer what you’re looking for and are well-stocked with high-quality properties and realtors too. You want your site to be safe and secure but also easy to use and navigate. Finding the right realtor platform takes a little work, but it’s well worth the effort if you want to be safe and secure while you browse real estate online.

Use extra protection

If you want to have the safest experience possible while looking at real estate, you have to go the extra mile. Extra online protection can come in many shapes and sizes, whether you’re browsing real estate or clothes. A great place to start is with a VPN or other technology that can mask your identity online.

Not only will these tools keep your identity private while you browse, but will also keep you safe from spyware and artificial prices. Another useful tool to have when doing any kind of browsing online is an antivirus to stay safe from threats. Do your research, look into your options, and take advantage of the safety tools you have at your disposal! Make sure to also factor in your personal data and its use when choosing an online security tool too!

Internet safety

Last but not least, to stay safe online, you need to know your basic rules of internet safety. Protecting your personal data is one thing, but making sure you don’t give it away willingly is another. You need to be smart with how you give out any information about yourself online, as you never know when it can be used against you. Whether you’re signing up for a realtor platform, talking to a broker, or a fellow user, you have to be on your guard.

Never give out any personal information or data until you are certain you can trust the person or corporation you’re talking to. Don’t engage with any unofficial emails, accounts, or messages if you’ve never spoken to them before. If any realtor website or user is asking for personal information too soon, steer clear of them.

So there you have it! With this guide in mind, you’re all caught up on everything to do with your private data and online real estate. It’s hard to go without sharing or collecting data in the modern world today, and because of it, many things have changed. Since real estate companies have started misusing customer data, there have been many security issues for everyone involved.

Online realtors have been selling customer data to advertisers and profiting off it in the process. They have manipulated the user’s experience and shown them results based on stolen data instead of pure statistics. Because of the issue of personal data, users can be exposed to other threats on the internet and online reality has gotten a bad rap.

While there are many negative side effects to data sharing misuse, there are also ways to protect yourself against it. When browsing real estate online as a consumer, to protect yourself you have to value your data. You need to do your research and be aware of the threats that exist online as a consumer. With the right realtor platform, a little extra protection, and basic internet safety, you’re good to go!

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