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Privacy Policies: More Important Than You Think

By: Kacy Clouser, Esq. on in

All of your software, applications and websites that you utilize for business have some sort of policy about privacy and data sharing. The thing about privacy policies is that you do not just need to read them once when you sign up for a product (you do read them then, right?), but you need to review the privacy policies as they change over time.

Realtors® should be aware that Dotloop is altering their privacy policy, and you may need to take action.

Dotloop, which is owned by Zillow, just published a new privacy policy, which goes into effect on July 17. It created a new affiliate sharing rule that allows them to share certain transactional information going back to Jan. 1, 2016, with other companies in the Zillow Group and its subsidiaries.

Users can opt out of this service, but must do so no later than the effective date of July 17. If you opt out after July 17, then they will have the right to share the information starting Jan. 1, 2016 until the date you opted out. The procedure to opt out can be found in the policy found below.

Here are the links to the privacy policies for PAR’s forms vendors:

Let’s talk about a few general things to focus on when reading through a privacy policy, so you can protect yourself in the future.

  • What information is being collected?
    This information might not only be what is collected for the establishment of your account, but also the information that is being entered into the software application. In the real estate industry, it is not just your information being entered, but your clients’ information as well.
  • How is the information being used?
    Customer information is often used to market the service or related services to the customers, or to improve the product. But sometimes the provider actually takes far more control. For example, some marketing services might actually give themselves the right to reuse your photographs for promotional purposes or even for other customers. Many times, the company will state how to opt out of this information being shared. It’s important to review this information and take the proper steps if you wish to opt out.
  • How is the information being shared? Even if the policy says information sharing with outside companies is limited or prohibited, many providers will share more information with companies that are under the same corporate umbrella, often known as “affiliate sharing”. This is typically a separate opt out step, so if you are intending on opting out of both third party sharing and affiliate sharing, then you are going to want to make sure you explicitly cover both topics in the communication.

While it may seem cumbersome to review privacy policies when you sign up for a service, it’s worth taking a look to ensure you know what permissions you are granting to the company.

Smart homes and smarter forms

A task force led by Bill Lublin of the Bucks County Association of Realtors® has identified four key issues PAR’s forms should address: notification to buyers and sellers of video and audio surveillance, data privacy and security issues, contractual obligations on energy-efficient equipment and passively-collected data.

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New forms for 2019

In addition to the Agreement of Sale, there will be three other revised forms and one brand new form in the PAR library on Jan. 1. The Property Management Agreement (Form PMA), Broker’s Fee Agreement (Form BFA) and Pre-settlement Possession Addendum (Form PRE) have received a face-lift and the new Broker’s Request for Affirmation (Form BRFA) has been added.

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