Lock Down That Social Media

Buyers in a real estate transaction are always curious about who they are purchasing their next home from. They will google the property and the sellers names, check social media, and in short become as familiar as they can about the other side. I’ve had buyers contact me who were absolutely electric about something they dug up about the seller, and often, while it wasn’t accurate, it did tell me that a savvy seller will watch out for themselves with what they put out there online. 

First, here are what folks can look up about you or your home fairly easily:

  • Public records. This can be as benign as a utility easement and as harmful as a police report or lawsuit. Divorce filings are publicly recorded in New York, and a domestic incident involving police can make the police blotter in your local paper. 
  • Foreclosure records. This is often right on Zillow for all the world to see. 
  • News articles. I wrote above that if there was ever a domestic call for police at your address, it can make the local paper in the police blotter, but it can also involve formations of companies, statements made at public hearings with local government, and a ton of other benign or not so benign matters. 
  • Proximity to sex offenders. The New York sex offender registry is a few clicks away. 
  • Your social media. 

That last one is the focus of my thoughts here. 

It can be truly cathartic to move on in social media with anything from a relationship status change to a meme or photo. But if your buyer snoops around your social and sees that you are separated or single, it could be the intelligence they sought to bolster their bargaining position. 

As I’ve said, divorce filings are public record. We can’t prevent that. But we don’t have to make it easy or obvious to the world that a divorce is involved when selling the marital house. For most people, social media is the low hanging fruit that their buyer will noodle around on. It’s not that buyers are always looking for some advantage, they are simply curious about the seller. Are there any  “small world” things at play, like a mutual friend or distant relationship? Do we have anything in common? It is typically an innocent case of curiosity where I’ve had buyers come up with some fairly provocative information about the other principals, and it can be damaging. 

Here are my recommendations:

  1. Make all social media posts friends only or private. 
  2. Overall, keep your social media benign. Cat memes. Cute things your kids did. Pets. 
  3. Relationship status changes or rants can feel good for a moment, but the consequences can cost. Avoid. 
  4. Delete old rants and status changes that could come back and bite you. 
  5. Lock down everything you can and never make anything public if you can help it.  
  6. Make sure your photos don’t include new romantic interests or any other details that could come back and haunt you. 
  7. Overall, ask yourself what a prospective buyer would conclude if they saw it before you post. 

Once the house is sold, you can hang your ex in effigy on social media if you want. But if there is still a transaction in the picture, you would be compromising your financial future in a weak moment, and that could cost you dearly. Always keep what the buyer might see as your North Star when posting. 

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