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Real Estate 'Porn'

Posted by: Peter Coy on May 26, 2006

Loved this story by Diana Olick of CNBC, “Real estate sites feed new data obsession.” mansion.jpg
Check it out here. Quote:

He’s typing in your address as we speak. He’s scanning satellite photos, homing in on your bedroom window. No, we’re not talking about phone records. But your colleague, your boss, maybe even the intern – any one of them could, right this minute, be nosing into your net worth.
“I call it real estate porn”, says Bradley Inman of “You know, real estate’s become an obsession.”
With one click of the mouse anyone can find out the value of your home or what you paid for it years ago. Today, they have yet another way to do it with the launch of — the latest in a series of sites providing a wealth of information about real estate to Web surfers.

Reader Comments

Glenn Kelman

May 26, 2006 1:04 PM

We actually had a feature on our site called HousePorn a few months back, in which we showed people each day the cheapest, most expensive and most clicked-on properties for their area, but the problem was that we then got besieged with pornographic spam on our blog from these spambots, and we didn't come up in child-safe searches. Plus I started to feel like a sexist, and couldn't even explain that I was more of a Camille Paglia feminist. Total disaster. We changed the name of the feature to Sweet Digs, and my twin brother called immediately to say "You're so boring."


May 27, 2006 2:11 PM

Indeed. With Google Maps and Earth, and sites like Zillow, if your friends, co-workers or whoever want to know about where you live and what it's worth, it's just a click away. But if they really wanted to know, your property value is public record anyway...

Marlow Harris

June 4, 2006 11:43 PM

Marjorie Garber has a great book entitled "Sex and Real Estate: Why We Love Houses". Her premise is that real estate has become a form of “yuppie pornography.” Hopes of summer romance have given way to hopes of summer homes, and fantasies of Romeo have been replaced by fantasies of remodeling.

The Landlord

July 18, 2006 1:34 PM

Like JJB said, the value of your home (at least the purchase prices and the appraised value) are a matter of public record and anyone who was determined enough could discover that about you anyways.

What we have here is a simple case of already public information becoming easier to access. Which can't be a bad thing at all. The fad of looking up other people's homes will die down and then eventually we'll wonder how we ever bought or sold homes without this data (relying solely on the word of some "realtor").

Real Estate Agent

June 10, 2008 3:44 PM

I think some are getting confused on public information. A property has several values, one being assessed and one being appraised. When you purchase a home, you or your lender will hire an appraisal by a certified appraiser. This is an in depth approach to calculate the value of the house or real estate. This information is not public. Because the buyer, owner or lender pay for the appraisal, they own it and you can only get it if they give it to you.
The city or other taxing authority for the house will do an assessment (by the assessor) and base your property taxes on that value. Most do a drive by of the property or a general % increase in value. Every area has set criteria on how often they are to do a physical inspection of the property (but that does not include going into the home). This information is public information and can be obtained via the web for most areas.
In some areas this value (assessed) may closely resemble the "retail" value of the real estate, but in other areas this value is not even close to it.
Some real estate sites allow you to calculate a value of a home, but the true value of a home (or any real estate) can only be calculated by a licensed appraiser (some areas may not require licensing of appraisers and others may allow the information from a licensed real estate agent instead).
Use the online searches as a reference only (unless you want to sell me your house at the listed value).

yvette cates fisher

December 7, 2008 4:23 PM

what is the price of this house

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BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.

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