Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

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Topic Author
InvisibleAerobar
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Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:33 am

Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by InvisibleAerobar »

ETA: to remove your property from publicly viewable database on homes.com, the contact address is privacysupport@homes.com. I initially got an auto-response of this account "accepts messages from people in its organization or on its allowed senders list", but my request was addressed.

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I think this is at least semi-actionalbe, as I'm hoping to shroud my financial info. But I fully get that it might not be possible.

In short, the website Homes.com, which basically lists properties in the MLS database the way redfin and zillow do, pulls additional info re: loans associated with a particular property. So far, I've looked up addresses in three different states, and without fail, info such as name(s) of borrower, interest rate, and amount borrowed all show up. Info such as whether there's a HELOC also show up.

The only saving grace (if there is any) is that 1) this website is not as popular as either redfin and zillow and that 2) one would need to know the street address of a property, but the downside is that those who know the address can gain a rather detailed knowledge.

Does anyone know is there's an opt-out mechanism possible? In addition, does anyone know of other websites that make such info so readily available to anyone curious?
Last edited by InvisibleAerobar on Thu Jun 13, 2024 10:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
henry
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by henry »

I dont' have an answer to your question but find this interesting. For what it's worth, I looked up my own address and it's not accurate with regards to my mortgage. It says my mortgage is still open even though I paid it off over 10 years ago.
Edit: Looked at my info further and I think it still says open because my original lender sold my loan to another lender when that lender got merged with another in the aftermath of the great financial crisis. The balance looks to be what is was when the loan was sold. These sites are only as useful as the info they take in and often it's flawed or incomplete.
Last edited by henry on Mon Jun 10, 2024 9:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
invest4
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by invest4 »

The information provided is from public records. I don't see anything that can be done. Furthermore, would not be surprised if competitors will add same to their own platforms.
bombcar
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by bombcar »

There are ways to obscure some of this stuff from random public searches via trusts and other weirdnesses, but it can raise costs associated, and the information is recorded somewhere eventually.

If someone is after you particularly, they will go to the county courthouse and do title searches, etc, and all will be revealed.

It can actually be worthwhile to have a large mortgage appear, as I've heard it makes you less of an appealing target for pay-after-win lawyers in lawsuits.
qwerty123
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by qwerty123 »

henry wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2024 9:34 am I dont' have an answer to your question but find this interesting. For what it's worth, I looked up my own address and it's not accurate with regards to my mortgage. It says my mortgage is still open even though I paid it off over 10 years ago.
Edit: Looked at my info further and I think it still says open because my original lender sold my loan to another lender when that lender got merged with another in the aftermath of the great financial crisis. The balance looks to be what is was when the loan was sold. These sites are only as useful as the info they take in and often it's flawed or incomplete.
Looked up my address as well, and while the loan amount and lender is accurate, the term and interest rate are both wrong. My guess is that they get what info they can from public sources, and then just kinda guess for the rest (ex: most people get a 30 year mortgage, and the mortgage interest rate is the market rate at the time).
beardsicles
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by beardsicles »

qwerty123 wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2024 9:44 am
henry wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2024 9:34 am I dont' have an answer to your question but find this interesting. For what it's worth, I looked up my own address and it's not accurate with regards to my mortgage. It says my mortgage is still open even though I paid it off over 10 years ago.
Edit: Looked at my info further and I think it still says open because my original lender sold my loan to another lender when that lender got merged with another in the aftermath of the great financial crisis. The balance looks to be what is was when the loan was sold. These sites are only as useful as the info they take in and often it's flawed or incomplete.
Looked up my address as well, and while the loan amount and lender is accurate, the term and interest rate are both wrong. My guess is that they get what info they can from public sources, and then just kinda guess for the rest (ex: most people get a 30 year mortgage, and the mortgage interest rate is the market rate at the time).

Same.
bombcar
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by bombcar »

Can confirm, the amount is right, but the interest rate and term are obviously based on some kind of averages.

They're not going to the courthouse to look at the records, that's for sure.

You could abuse this if you wanted and had a friendly mortgage broker, take out a 90% LTV one month mortgage hahaha
notmyname
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by notmyname »

Recently I used the homes.com contact form to request removal of the interior photos of the house I own. They replied the next day saying they had removed my property from the homes.com site. I tried looking up my address and no info is displayed now.

You may want to request removal of your property from the site.
~ nmn
Topic Author
InvisibleAerobar
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by InvisibleAerobar »

notmyname wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2024 9:52 am Recently I used the homes.com contact form to request removal of the interior photos of the house I own. They replied the next day saying they had removed my property from the homes.com site. I tried looking up my address and no info is displayed now.

You may want to request removal of your property from the site.
Definitely good to know. Thanks for sharing.
runner3081
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by runner3081 »

Even if you remove from those sites, most of it is easily found on county recorder sites. I have a hobby of looking up everyone I meet, haha.
neowiser
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by neowiser »

I checked my home and the home of my friend. Title transfers are shown, including when the reason is death of one owner or inheritance, but no names are shown. Perhaps it is county-specific in accordance with local laws. The square footage is inflated, perhaps they include garage sqft and Zillow etc. exclude that?
ETK517
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by ETK517 »

Looked up my house. Mortgage info is there, and it's not quite accurate. E.g., it shows a refinance as a "balloon" mortgage/payment. It also shows the full amount of a HELOC, not the outstanding amount. A bit invasive!
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seltzer
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by seltzer »

qwerty123 wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2024 9:44 am
henry wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2024 9:34 am I dont' have an answer to your question but find this interesting. For what it's worth, I looked up my own address and it's not accurate with regards to my mortgage. It says my mortgage is still open even though I paid it off over 10 years ago.
Edit: Looked at my info further and I think it still says open because my original lender sold my loan to another lender when that lender got merged with another in the aftermath of the great financial crisis. The balance looks to be what is was when the loan was sold. These sites are only as useful as the info they take in and often it's flawed or incomplete.
Looked up my address as well, and while the loan amount and lender is accurate, the term and interest rate are both wrong. My guess is that they get what info they can from public sources, and then just kinda guess for the rest (ex: most people get a 30 year mortgage, and the mortgage interest rate is the market rate at the time).
They would be able to get completely accurate info from your county's property records, so more likely it is an issue with their software that is scraping for the data not playing well with some of the state websites.

Edit: The interest rate is incorrect for the home I purchased last year. My guess is they can only see the document type and the date (i.e. mortgaged opened on MM/DD/YY) and they don't use OCR to scan the docs, so they just use the average 30Y mortgage rate at this given date.
runner3081 wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2024 11:27 am I have a hobby of looking up everyone I meet, haha.
I did this for all of the houses we got outbid on during the pandemic market craziness. A shocking number of people did only 3.5 - 5% down mortgages. My guess is 80% or more of the people bidding over and waiving the appraisal gap didn't actually have the cash to pony up if the home didn't appraise.
andypanda
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Location: Richmond, Virginia

Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by andypanda »

I just looked up a house by the address. I know that it is pending in a beach area. Nice place, 0.4 acres, 3BR, 3BA, 2200 sq.ft., built about 21 years ago. It's up on pilings with parking underneath, etc. Our friends have a contract on it.

Here's what homes.com shows. They only missed by half a block or so.

Image

It is the internet after all.
Topic Author
InvisibleAerobar
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by InvisibleAerobar »

I've reached out to them via Privacysupport@homes.com and I'll report back on what I hear.

I don't object to having this info available at registrar of deeds, but to have this info be so freely available is somewhat unsettling.

The previous owner did refinance the house a few years ago (I know this b/c of Alta Settlement Statement), and that same mortgage is reported on Homes.com.

Also, along a similar line, I'm grateful that the incorporated municipality in which we reside does not provide conveyance details online, whereas another city in the same county does. So as a result, homes.com is able to scrub the conveyance details of homes located in the nearby city but cannot for the municipality where our house is.
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pointyhairedboss
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by pointyhairedboss »

notmyname wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2024 9:52 am Recently I used the homes.com contact form to request removal of the interior photos of the house I own. They replied the next day saying they had removed my property from the homes.com site. I tried looking up my address and no info is displayed now.

You may want to request removal of your property from the site.
The pictures are stored on the mls. homes.com is just one of thousands of sites that display mls data. Your better off requesting removal of the images from the mls. Either your agent or the listing agent may be able to do it if you ask.
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pointyhairedboss
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by pointyhairedboss »

Why are mortgage loans public data?
mcraepat9
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by mcraepat9 »

Is this just culled from the county recorder's office?

The detail on mortgage loans i assume depends on whether the security instrument needs to state the quantum, rate etc. in the recording jurisdiction. Not much you can do about that.
Amateur investors are not cool-headed logicians.
beardsicles
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by beardsicles »

pointyhairedboss wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2024 1:06 pm Why are mortgage loans public data?
How else would title work?
notmyname
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by notmyname »

pointyhairedboss wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2024 1:04 pm
notmyname wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2024 9:52 am Recently I used the homes.com contact form to request removal of the interior photos of the house I own. They replied the next day saying they had removed my property from the homes.com site. I tried looking up my address and no info is displayed now.

You may want to request removal of your property from the site.
The pictures are stored on the mls. homes.com is just one of thousands of sites that display mls data. Your better off requesting removal of the images from the mls. Either your agent or the listing agent may be able to do it if you ask.
I did that. The first time I made the request, the sellers agent said she didn't know how to do it. The second time, she did something, and the pictures disappeared from a few sites. Other sites, weeks later, still displayed the couple dozen interior pics. I contacted those sites. Most removed the pics. One responded that I live in a state that doesn't require them to remove pics, so they were not going to do it.

I think MLS is an irresponsible organization and a privacy/security hazard, but apparently most homebuyers do not agree, as there doesn't seem to be much pressure on them to correct the issue.

I did find one site that for around $100 will attempt to remove the pictures on your behalf.

I would like to get rid of the flowery, detailed, description of my house added by the sellers agent too, but that's probably too much to ask.

I wonder if I contacted a realtor and asked them to place my house on the market for 10 minutes if they could overwrite the description and other info with very generic info and have that propagate to the hundreds of sites that subscribe to the MLS data.
~ nmn
bombcar
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by bombcar »

notmyname wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2024 4:03 pm I wonder if I contacted a realtor and asked them to place my house on the market for 10 minutes if they could overwrite the description and other info with very generic info and have that propagate to the hundreds of sites that subscribe to the MLS data.
That might work, but all the sites that have scraped the previous will probably still have the previous.

What could work and should be considered for future purchases is making it a part of closing that the selling realtor replace all the photos with AI generated garbage for a bit before marking the property sold.
barnaclebob
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by barnaclebob »

Interesting. For my own house, the original loan amount is correct but not the term, interest rate, or outstanding principle.
rockstar
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by rockstar »

You can look up public records and get a lot of this info. Depending on the state and county, it’s either free to look at or behind a pay wall.
Irene
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by Irene »

Wow, mine has one less bedroom and a good thousand more square feet. I wonder how that works. It reminds me of those dreams where you find out there are secret rooms in your house you didn't know about.
gotoparks
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by gotoparks »

My loan info isn't all correct. Taxes are straight line up which is correct.
SVT
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by SVT »

My info is 100% correct.
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grabiner
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by grabiner »

My home has the closing date correct (which the county itself doesn't; it lists the sale date as the date the title was recorded), but the mortgage information is clearly made up. The mortgage balance and lender are right, but the mortgage term is reported as 30 years even though it was actually 15, and the reported rate is much higher than the actual rate. The mortgage is listed as "previous owner", even though I still own the home.

The tax data also doesn't pass a sanity check. The reported taxes in 2014-2016 are ridiculously low, and the 2022 reported tax is 30% lower than the tax for either 2021 or 2023.
Wiki David Grabiner
Topic Author
InvisibleAerobar
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by InvisibleAerobar »

Quick update on this. Homes.com was not able to remove just the mortgage info, but it was able to take down the entire listing, such that the address is no longer a result when searching on homes.com.

The contact address is privacysupport@homes.com. I initially got an auto-response of this account "accepts messages from people in its organization or on its allowed senders list", but my request was addressed.
WillRetire
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by WillRetire »

Thanks for sharing this!
Topic Author
InvisibleAerobar
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by InvisibleAerobar »

Glad to help.

Now we just all need to be on the look out for other easily-accessible databases that scrubs data like this.
MrJones
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by MrJones »

Nice thread, thanks for starting it, OP.
InvisibleAerobar wrote: Thu Jun 13, 2024 10:10 am Now we just all need to be on the look out for other easily-accessible databases that scrubs data like this.

Check out Melissa. It doesn't seem to have mortgage info but does aggregate and easily provide full names and property taxes. You have to enter a zip code, and then manually go click on a house in the satellite view.
chemocean
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Re: Financial privacy re: mortgage info on real estate websites

Post by chemocean »

henry wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2024 9:34 am I dont' have an answer to your question but find this interesting. For what it's worth, I looked up my own address and it's not accurate with regards to my mortgage. It says my mortgage is still open even though I paid it off over 10 years ago.
Edit: Looked at my info further and I think it still says open because my original lender sold my loan to another lender when that lender got merged with another in the aftermath of the great financial crisis. The balance looks to be what is was when the loan was sold. These sites are only as useful as the info they take in and often it's flawed or incomplete.
Did the bank record your reconveyance when you paid off the loan?
Is the recording of reconveyance a best practice, or do you need to push the bank to record. I just found out it costs over $300 to record a document in our county.
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