How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

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ScubaV
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How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by ScubaV »

My SO and I are planning to buy a house soon. Said SO has a small, but growing social media business that they are working to expand and a motivated person would probably be able to figure out their real name (a fairly uncommon one) without too much difficulty. My name, if it was ever found and linked to theirs, is extremely rare. Therefore, we are looking to be proactive and trying to keep our names separate from our new home address as much as reasonably possible. I'm sure it varies by state, but I'm wondering what some good strategies are. We plan to speak with a real estate attorney at some point to see what options there are, such as using an LLC to buy the house. Another recommendation I've seen is to use a third party like a UPS store to receive all mail and packages and avoid giving out the real address unless absolutely necessary.
sport
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by sport »

In my area, one can look up any real estate holding by searching for either the address or the name of the owner(s). When people do not want their ownership to be public, they use an LLC or an agent of some sort.
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JoeRetire
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by JoeRetire »

Buy the home using a Trust. Name the trust something not related to your own names.
Get a P.O. box for all your mail.
Stay indoors a lot.
Keep the blinds shut.
Don't socialize.
Be known by your nicknames rather than your actual names.
Consider wearing a disguise.
Just remember: it's not a lie if you believe it.
Supergrover
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by Supergrover »

Today nothing is private. It just depends on how deep you want to dig to find it out.
In NJ, you can look up corporate names online. Not sure how fictitious name are treated elsewhere.
Sadly, the privacy ship has sailed.
Supergrover
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by Supergrover »

JoeRetire wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:13 pm Buy the home using a Trust. Name the trust something not related to your own names.
Get a P.O. box for all your mail.
Stay indoors a lot.
Keep the blinds shut.
Don't socialize.
Be known by your nicknames rather than your actual names.
Consider wearing a disguise.
+1. This sounds about right!
Random Poster
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by Random Poster »

Don’t know the answer, but if the house is purchased by a trust or LLC, will you lose any tax/bankruptcy benefits like homestead exemption, head of household exemptions, etc?
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ResearchMed
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by ResearchMed »

The privacy issue is... sort of over.
Younger folks don't even realize what privacy once was, especially pre-internet, when very little was easily public.

IF you were to purchase a home with an LLC, you'd need to be able to get credit in the name of the LLC, which probably has no credit history yet. This is a problem for those who want to do it for liability reasons.

If you think it very unlikely that your name would ever be associated with hers (is that really accurate 'these days'?), maybe you could purchase the house in your name only.
I don't know what her rights would be in your state, but you could check on that, or perhaps have some other sort of post nuptial agreement, but one that isn't public, to address some of the "what if's".

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Mr. Rumples
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by Mr. Rumples »

Property records are public where I live. LLC's don't show on the VA State Corporation Commission's website the owners of the LLC; but it does show the physical address of the LLC (in addition to the physical address and name of the registered agent). Note that while the online record of the VA SCC doesn't include the individual names, if a Freedom of Information Act request were made for the application to become an LLC, then the names would be obtained (I don't see an exclusion). https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacodepopu ... ation-act/

In addition, business licenses which are issued by local jurisdictions are public information where I live, however the locality determines if its online or not.

Each state has it's own laws regarding these issues.
Last edited by Mr. Rumples on Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:52 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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cchrissyy
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by cchrissyy »

links to similar past discussions
if i recall, there is no good way to accomplish what you're thinking, but it might vary by state

viewtopic.php?t=327583

viewtopic.php?t=286809

viewtopic.php?t=266118
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Sandtrap
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by Sandtrap »

Seek legal counsel.

There’s also a very shrewd CPA in the Ozarks….but that is another matter.
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Katietsu
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by Katietsu »

I am not as pessimistic as other respondents. While it may be difficult to avoid being discovered by a determined person dead set on doxxing your SO, I think precautions could make it difficult enough that the average viewer does not pursue.

I would talk to an attorney in your location. In my state, you can not use an LLC for a personal use property. You could use a trust with a completely made up name here and only the trust name and mailing address would be visible online. If the trust document was written correctly, you could also keep homestead type tax benefits. But, again, I believe this is all location dependent.

I think voter records are public though so I do not know how you can vote and stay incognito. There are companies that you can make that continually search for your info online and make requests for that info to be removed from public access when possible.
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ScubaV
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by ScubaV »

I'm fully aware that like security, there is no foolproof method of privacy. And we're not planning to be off the grid hermits either, but I do want to take reasonable steps that could deter casual or even moderately interested parties.

[Reply to removed content removed by moderator oldcomputerguy]
cchrissyy wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:45 pm links to similar past discussions
if i recall, there is no good way to accomplish what you're thinking, but it might vary by state

viewtopic.php?t=327583

viewtopic.php?t=286809

viewtopic.php?t=266118
Thanks for this. I will peruse later.
123
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by 123 »

If the plans for the business run by your SO is to keep it private, seek no outside investment, and keep the profile of the business very low-key (mediocre) you may be able to keep some personal privacy.

If any effort is made to have a successful business operated through the internet the chances of maintaining personal privacy is probably nil.
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chazas
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by chazas »

Katietsu wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 8:18 pmIn my state, you can not use an LLC for a personal use property.
Where is this? Corporate lawyer doubts it but willing to be shown he’s wrong.
smitcat
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by smitcat »

People who work in the social media business are typically the most skilled on these subjects.
step-in-time
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by step-in-time »

Supergrover wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:31 pm
JoeRetire wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:13 pm Buy the home using a Trust. Name the trust something not related to your own names.
Get a P.O. box for all your mail.
Stay indoors a lot.
Keep the blinds shut.
Don't socialize.
Be known by your nicknames rather than your actual names.
Consider wearing a disguise.
+1. This sounds about right!
With a trust, sounds like you'd also need to register a tax identification number for the trust? 

And setup separate financial accounts for the trust to ensure accounts associated with the property for utilities, internet, etc are separate from your personal name and paid by trust banking accounts/credit cards with separate contact info (email/phone) that cannot be tied to your personal name. Has anyone done this?

Seems like a trust alone would be worthless if you have to setup utilities/internet using your personal SSN and email/phone. 
bluebolt
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by bluebolt »

Where we are mortgages are recorded against the property address and are searchable. So, you would either have to buy in cash or have the mortgage not associated with your name somehow.
livesoft
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by livesoft »

Although one can use a trust and hide their name(s) from real estate records, I think it will be harder to hide the address where one lives. That is, if you live in the house, then that can be found out whether your home is owned by the "Keep My Name Private Trust" or not.
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bsteiner
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by bsteiner »

A revocable trust with someone else as the trustee.
bluebolt
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by bluebolt »

Also note that if you purchase the house in your name and then place it in a revocable trust with someone else as the trustee, your name(s) will still be searchable in the records.
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Nate79
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by Nate79 »

My guess is that all of the ideas proposed are going to cost you $$$ in some way or another. You need to decide how much money you are willing to spend to gain some marginal improvement in privacy.

Is it really that important due to a small social media business?
Californiastate
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by Californiastate »

I'd expect the business will generate enough income to justify this inconvenience. There is a point where this inconvenience will need to be quantified. It sounds like the OP is combat loading.
Mike Scott
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by Mike Scott »

It's probably easier to register / license / remote operate the business in a different state than it is to obscure your personal property records which are generally (always?) public documents.
tim1999
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by tim1999 »

Buy the house for cash with a single-purpose LLC. No mortgage, because you would personally have to sign for that on a recorded document on behalf of the LLC.
Have your attorney listed as both the registered agent and the mailing address for the LLC in the state records. Your attorney should know what to do in order to keep your name off the public record as being associated with that LLC.
Have the mailing address for the county assessment/tax records be either your attorney's office or a post office/UPS store-type box.
Make sure the title company doesn't stick your first and last name anywhere on the deed or other forms customarily recorded at closing. (some will put your name and address in the upper left corner of the deed in the "return after recording to" section; your attorney's name and address should be there, not "John Smith, XYZ House LLC"). Double check EVERY document signed at closing and if your personal name is on it, confirm that it will not be recorded.
If an affidavit of value needs to be signed for the purchase for the county assessor, your attorney or real estate agent should sign it.

This is what the privacy-seekers tend to do in my area.
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JamalJones
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by JamalJones »

ScubaV wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:05 pm My SO and I are planning to buy a house soon. Said SO has a small, but growing social media business that they are working to expand and a motivated person would probably be able to figure out their real name (a fairly uncommon one) without too much difficulty. My name, if it was ever found and linked to theirs, is extremely rare. Therefore, we are looking to be proactive and trying to keep our names separate from our new home address as much as reasonably possible. I'm sure it varies by state, but I'm wondering what some good strategies are. We plan to speak with a real estate attorney at some point to see what options there are, such as using an LLC to buy the house. Another recommendation I've seen is to use a third party like a UPS store to receive all mail and packages and avoid giving out the real address unless absolutely necessary.
Likely more than you need, but this is a good resource:

https://inteltechniques.com/book7.html
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cchrissyy
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by cchrissyy »

Mike Scott wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 10:38 am It's probably easier to register / license / remote operate the business in a different state than it is to obscure your personal property records which are generally (always?) public documents.
that's a good point

and is it too late for your partner to use a pseudoname in the business?

I think buying real estate naturally brings up concerns of how searchable the public records are, but, if you stop right now and search you would find that all the places you have ever lived already come up even tho you didn't own any of them. it's coming from all sorts of sources like your voter records, your credit report, your drivers license, any retailer who was ever hacked, anything you ever did online before you were this careful about privacy. what i mean is, if somebody can google you and find your college apartment or your parent's house, then the threat isn't coming from a title search and it can't be prevented by a trust or LLC.
phxjcc
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by phxjcc »

Strictly for privacy reasons....here is one way.
The rich guys just title everything in a trust/LLC name and use their lawyer's/manager's/William Morris'/IMG's address.

Get a UPS Store mailbox in each of two different stores.

Buy in your names.
Use mailbox #1 for the mailing address.

Form a trust
TRUST USES Mailbox #2

Quit claim it to the trust.

Make the mailing address for the property the address of the #2 UPS Store mailbox.

Property search will show:
Trust Name
123 Main St.
# 121
City, State zip

To find the owners of a private mailbox requires a court order.

Previous aowners will show
JOHN and Mary Smith
456 Oak Street
City st zip

You can proceed with as many levels as you want.
Most people are not smart enough to see through the above though.

If they want to hangout at 123 Main st looking for John and Mary Smith, there isn't much that you can do.

Caveat: I used to own a UPS stor, but that was over 20 years ago, so my info may be dated.

I had celebrity (well they THOUGHT they were) clients that did this.
OldBallCoach
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by OldBallCoach »

In my experience people now days can track down just about anything...thats how for sale signs end up in the front lawn during a losing season..
Planner01
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by Planner01 »

Random Poster wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:32 pm Don’t know the answer, but if the house is purchased by a trust or LLC, will you lose any tax/bankruptcy benefits like homestead exemption, head of household exemptions, etc?
My house is in a trust and I got the homestead exemption. I am in Florida.
Luke Duke
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by Luke Duke »

A friend of mine is a former DA and a property tax lookup of his home shows the following message where his name would normally be:
"Owner withheld per Sec.# 25.025 or 25.026 of Texas Property Tax Code"

https://texas.public.law/statutes/tex._ ... ion_25.025

Perhaps your state has something similar that would apply to you or your wife.
sk2101
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by sk2101 »

Random Poster wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:32 pm Don’t know the answer, but if the house is purchased by a trust or LLC, will you lose any tax/bankruptcy benefits like homestead exemption, head of household exemptions, etc?
In my state it's not possible to have homestead exemption if the house is under a LLC. However it's allowed if under a trust (certain conditions apply).
senex
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by senex »

Also be sure to not register to vote anywhere.

(If you register at your actual home, it will probably be public record. If you register at any other address, you are committing voter fraud).
step-in-time
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by step-in-time »

Planner01 wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 7:53 am My house is in a trust and I got the homestead exemption. I am in Florida.
Do you mind sharing how this worked for setting up your utilities/internet/insurance? Is this under the trust name also?
step-in-time
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by step-in-time »

Luke Duke wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 9:45 am A friend of mine is a former DA and a property tax lookup of his home shows the following message where his name would normally be:
"Owner withheld per Sec.# 25.025 or 25.026 of Texas Property Tax Code"

https://texas.public.law/statutes/tex._ ... ion_25.025

Perhaps your state has something similar that would apply to you or your wife.
FL has similar public records disclosure exemptions for various public officials, employees and victims of crimes: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/ind ... 9.071.html

One challenge with this is making sure the deed is blocked from public records release at point of recording by the clerk of courts. Otherwise the data companies that buy up and sell public records information will release the info and it can't really be "undone".
H-Town
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by H-Town »

ScubaV wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:05 pm My SO and I are planning to buy a house soon. Said SO has a small, but growing social media business that they are working to expand and a motivated person would probably be able to figure out their real name (a fairly uncommon one) without too much difficulty. My name, if it was ever found and linked to theirs, is extremely rare. Therefore, we are looking to be proactive and trying to keep our names separate from our new home address as much as reasonably possible. I'm sure it varies by state, but I'm wondering what some good strategies are. We plan to speak with a real estate attorney at some point to see what options there are, such as using an LLC to buy the house. Another recommendation I've seen is to use a third party like a UPS store to receive all mail and packages and avoid giving out the real address unless absolutely necessary.
I went through this exercise before I bought my house. There's no easy way to completely hide my name from the county's property tax public record. So finally I say... let them come. I don't keep anything valuable in the house, and the perpetrator will stare down the barrel of my shotgun first before they can do anything.

You're in a different situation since your SO has social media presence. We are not. So perhaps you'll need to pursue harder to use a LLC name.
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Planner01
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by Planner01 »

step-in-time wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 11:38 am
Planner01 wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 7:53 am My house is in a trust and I got the homestead exemption. I am in Florida.
Do you mind sharing how this worked for setting up your utilities/internet/insurance? Is this under the trust name also?
The utility services are just under my own name. I don’t think you have to proof ownership to set up the utilities. I’ve never had to show anything.
iamlucky13
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by iamlucky13 »

A neighbor bought a home under an LLC.

However, solely as an exercise of practicing sleuthing, I looked up the registered owner of the LLC, and learned their names,where they were moving from, how much they paid for their previous home, enough to know the basic industry the husband had worked in, and that the wife performs in a community theater group.

It took some extra knowledge and effort to find, as this information was not available in one place, so it has some contribution to privacy, but it's not a complete solution by any means.
ResearchMed wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:35 pm The privacy issue is... sort of over.
Younger folks don't even realize what privacy once was, especially pre-internet, when very little was easily public.
All the more reason for the OP to buck the trend in my opinion, and make privacy something that is not over. I can identify no net benefit to individuals or society being able to stalk people as easily as is often possible today. My exercise above was eye-opening, and not in a way I really like, no matter how clever it made me feel at the time.
step-in-time
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by step-in-time »

Planner01 wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 3:43 pm
step-in-time wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 11:38 am
Planner01 wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 7:53 am My house is in a trust and I got the homestead exemption. I am in Florida.
Do you mind sharing how this worked for setting up your utilities/internet/insurance? Is this under the trust name also?
The utility services are just under my own name. I don’t think you have to proof ownership to set up the utilities. I’ve never had to show anything.
Thanks so much! I'm guessing when you google your name and zip code, that your address likely shows up in search results?

Utilities/internet seem to be one of the weak links in privacy (unless you can find someone willing to put these in their name), along with voter registration and USPS change of address, even if you spend the $$ to setup a trust or LLC for the house deed. 

OP, I hope you let us know what you end up doing! Privacy/safety concerns can be a real issue.
SuzBanyan
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by SuzBanyan »

OP: what state is the house located in? Different states have very different laws with respect to access to information.
roamingzebra
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by roamingzebra »

Planner01 wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 3:43 pm
step-in-time wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 11:38 am
Planner01 wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 7:53 am My house is in a trust and I got the homestead exemption. I am in Florida.
Do you mind sharing how this worked for setting up your utilities/internet/insurance? Is this under the trust name also?
The utility services are just under my own name. I don’t think you have to proof ownership to set up the utilities. I’ve never had to show anything.
My parent's home is in a trust. Every year their homeowner's insurance sends out a bill with their real name on it and a second statement almost identical but with the trust's name on it and a note that says "this is not a bill". I wasn't there when they set it up so don't know why it's being done this way.
squirm
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by squirm »

So basically, at the end of the day, you're not going to be able to hide from the Goggles out there. That's why everyone uses fake names online.
MarkerFM
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by MarkerFM »

roamingzebra wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 7:46 pm
Planner01 wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 3:43 pm
step-in-time wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 11:38 am
Planner01 wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 7:53 am My house is in a trust and I got the homestead exemption. I am in Florida.
Do you mind sharing how this worked for setting up your utilities/internet/insurance? Is this under the trust name also?
The utility services are just under my own name. I don’t think you have to proof ownership to set up the utilities. I’ve never had to show anything.
My parent's home is in a trust. Every year their homeowner's insurance sends out a bill with their real name on it and a second statement almost identical but with the trust's name on it and a note that says "this is not a bill". I wasn't there when they set it up so don't know why it's being done this way.
One of our houses is in a trust. It used to be that the trust was named as an insured and got a notice saying so. More recently, the policy language has been modified to include the trust in the definition of Insured, so there is no separate document needed.
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ScubaV
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by ScubaV »

We'll need a mortgage for this house at least, so an all cash LLC purchase is out. It's very unlikely that this will be a permanent home, so we'll gauge the cost/inconvenience of various measures against the likelihood of some kind of stalker situation in the near to medium term with the understanding that if the situation changes we can always restart with more robust measures. My goal is mostly to block our location from casual Google searching, which would probably stop 95%+ curious looky-loos.
rockstar
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by rockstar »

Don't post pictures with location information embedded.

https://www.howtogeek.com/211427/how-to ... n-private/
LunarOpal
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by LunarOpal »

Laws vary by state, but it's pretty common to set up a "land trust" to maintain confidentiality in my state.

The generic term for the type of trust is an Illinois land trust (although I don't live in Illinois, my state has a similar model).

In this type of land trust, the land is held by the trustee for the beneficiary, but the trustee is obligated to do whatever the beneficiary tells him to. And the beneficiary can replace the trustee or terminate the trust at will. But because the ownership of the land is with the trustee, there's not an easily accessible public record of who the beneficial owner is.

One of the advantages of a land trust like this is that, by law (in my state, and presumably in Ill., and in other states that have similar law), you can transfer your property to the land trust without triggering the mortgage acceleration clause as would typically happen if you transferred it to an LLC. (It's the ease of conveyance that's the main reason for using land trusts, but privacy is also an important reason). This makes the trust much easier to set up.
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Nestegg_User
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by Nestegg_User »

don't forget the little areas that might "leak" data, like doctors offices, pet licenses, and the obvious area of drivers license (haven't seen cases where your address could be obscured there...but maybe others can think of a work around (it seems many states sell their lists, so it is concerning))

also, there's ways to obscure your house in various maps applications: https://lifehacker.com/how-to-hide-your ... 1847606586
HIMcDunnough
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by HIMcDunnough »

If you really want privacy, set up a straw man arrangement where you're not the record owner. But be prepared to forego the tax and asset protection benefits of home ownership, and it better be someone you trust. Can't say I recommend it!
Starfox
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Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by Starfox »

Sandtrap wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:56 pm Seek legal counsel.

There’s also a very shrewd CPA in the Ozarks….but that is another matter.
j🌺
:mrgreen:
step-in-time
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue May 24, 2016 11:14 am

Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by step-in-time »

ScubaV wrote: Fri Sep 17, 2021 7:33 pm We'll need a mortgage for this house at least, so an all cash LLC purchase is out. It's very unlikely that this will be a permanent home, so we'll gauge the cost/inconvenience of various measures against the likelihood of some kind of stalker situation in the near to medium term with the understanding that if the situation changes we can always restart with more robust measures. My goal is mostly to block our location from casual Google searching, which would probably stop 95%+ curious looky-loos.
If this likely isn't a permanent home, then another possible option (on the lower cost spectrum) could be using a more common name for the house title, e.g. use a name affidavit to hold title under a nickname if possible in your state. 

Having an uncommon name is a major handicap for privacy, while a common name can lend considerable anonymity, as you probably know from Googling yourself.

Financial accounts, IRS, and DMV in many states are supposed to honor your privacy. Voter registration and USPS may not (FL publishes everything about your voter registration except SSN, which is appalling for a "conservative" state, and requires your physical street address not PO box for voting).

Being stalked and harassed is an awful experience, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 17 men are stalked in their lifetimes according to CDC. It's good you're thinking about this possibility and taking reasonable steps to protect your privacy, as it's far too common and a huge blind spot for many people. 

Gavin de Beckers "The Gift of Fear" and online Mosaic Threat Assessment are invaluable for assessing the level of risk a stalker poses, should this situation ever arise for you. Hopefully it won't but good to be prepared!
step-in-time
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue May 24, 2016 11:14 am

Re: How to maximize privacy when buying a home?

Post by step-in-time »

And at risk for stating the obvious, if this isn't a permanent home, then renting with landlord provided utilities/internet + keeping your name separate from your home address by using a PO box or private mailbox as suggested earlier could solve the privacy issue.
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