I didn’t particularly want to find out where Hobbit actor Elijah Wood lives in Austin, but it seems that new Multiple Listing Service tools make it particularly easy.
A well known local brokerage has just unveiled its “Austin Home Sales Price” portion of its website, and I found it only took a minute to learn which part of Austin was the actor’s Bag End.
I’m sure Mr. Wood wouldn’t be keen to find out how easy it is to learn where he lives, and I have a few suggestions for other people who might wish for their homes to be hidden from public view.
How Did I Find Elijah Wood’s Address?
You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out where he lives. There are a ton of “which celebrities live in Austin” sites, and one celebrity page invites you into his $1 million dollar home. It gives details of the size and price of the home, and even the sale month and neighborhood, in addition to a photo of the outside.
Now granted, given this alone, you could cruise along in person or even in google street view and figure out the address, though that would take a little time.
But given the data of his home and the credit on the photo that says “MLS”, you might wander over to an “Austin Home Sales Price” site and register to “unlock sold properties” and simply enter the size, zip code and approximate price into the search button and turn up the address pretty quickly.
Not exactly rocket science, and probably quite annoying for the actor who presumably doesn’t want thirteen dwarves showing up trick-or-treating at his doorstep every Halloween. Especially if they bring a dragon.
How Do We Maintain Privacy In Real Estate?
Privacy is a concern for all of us, not just successful actors, so how can we do a better job of keeping our private data private?
There are certainly systems for keeping certain data private – keeping names out of publicly searchable databases for example.
If you’re a discrete real estate agent, you can advise your client on keeping things out of the tax records, and make sure that any Multiple Listing System data is geared to protect your client’s identity, especially when they come to sell. And then there’s the use of the MLS in the first place – does this serve your client, or would you be better entering into a transaction without it?
Unfortunately in Elijah’s case, his agent couldn’t do much more than was done as the home he bought was in the MLS.
In this instance I think that the writer at CeleBuzz might have made it too obvious where the actor lives. I’m not sure how they got the license to use the photos from the MLS – my understanding is that the writer would have had to gain the consent of the person who took them to re-use them in their article. In fact the images shown on the website are from a previous sale of the same property, so I’m not sure how they came to be available to the writer.
Do I think there’s anything wrong with the Austin real estate broker websites which share sold price data? Whatever my personal opinion on that, the settlement between the National Association of Realtors and the Department of Justice states that they’re not doing anything wrong. They’re just aiding consumers in their quest for house buying knowledge.
Sherlock Homes Austin wants to help people keep their identities and locations as private as they want to, and to understand the impact of using the MLS to buy and sell homes. 512 215 4785