Steve Gothelf Leads SF Chronicle Sound Off Interview
November 20, 2016
How much privacy can buyers or sellers expect during the transaction process?
A: Privacy levels during the transaction process range from moderate to high depending on buyer and seller needs.
During a real estate transaction buyers and sellers will experience varying degrees of privacy with respect to their identities. It’s best when the Realtor and client develop a strategy and plan accordingly.
Far more than simply a buyer, seller, and Realtor take part in these transactions. Photographers, copywriters, videographers, web designers, title company representatives, lenders, appraisers, property inspectors, stagers and laborers are likely to become involved at some point.
That kind of built-in exposure obviously affects the privacy.
In my experience buyers, (as compared to sellers) have more opportunity for privacy by requiring non-disclosure agreements to be signed by all parties. Buyers can go a step further by taking title in the name of an LLC to exclude their names from the tax rolls.
Designating an attorney or accountant as manager of that LLC and allowing them to handle the transaction process further insulates buyers from putting their name out there.
Some LLC’s are originated in Delaware because of the rigorous confidentiality statutes.
Sellers seeking privacy during a transaction may also use NDA’s and LLC’s. However property ads, signage, and participation in the MLS will focus attention on the property — which may impact their privacy.
Although a different issue than privacy during the transaction process, many sellers and buyers would like to keep sale prices private which is no longer possible in San Francisco because within weeks of a sale being completed the Tax Assessors Office uploads that information to the tax rolls and it becomes public information.
A: I have been asked many times if I would represent both buyer and seller on a transaction — my answer is always no. Each party should have as much privacy as possible during a transaction, it’s one of the main reasons buyers and sellers should have their own representation.
With advent of technology, we all have personal information floating online. But Realtors strive to be gatekeepers of our clients’ information. Only truly pertinent details should ever be shared with the other party. For example, as a buyer; it is typical to provide proof of loan approval from a lender.
If you are paying cash, providing proof of funds is standard protocol. Beyond that, your private finances should remain just that, private. We often ask our clients to “personalize” themselves during a bidding process by writing a letter; how much clients wish to reveal is discussed and decided together. Alternatively for sellers; how much they paid for their house and when is public record, and found easily online. Other facets of their personal material should not come to light unless vital to the transaction.
Categorized in: San Francisco