Most people’s preferred method of finding new properties to rent or buy is using the internet. Why would you want to spend hours visiting realty firms in your local area, browsing catalogues and looking for ‘For sale’ or ‘To let’ signs outside of people’s houses when you can turn your computer on and find properties immediately? Unfortunately though while searching for properties online is very common it’s not exactly safe. People’s data has never been more at risk of theft than it is right now. Criminals target consumers on a daily basis, stealing their information and siphoning money out of their bank accounts.
If you are somebody who’s interested in searching for properties to rent or buy online then you need to do everything you can to protect yourself from gangs of criminals and thieves. While it might seem difficult, protecting yourself is actually quite easy; all you need is rudimentary knowledge of online security and an understanding of how criminals target people. Gaining this knowledge is something that can be done by reading this page in its entirety and incorporating the ideas and suggestions made here into your cybersecurity plan.
Finding Secure Platforms
One of the very first things that you need to do if you want to keep yourself safe whilst searching for properties online is to find secure platforms to use. Sadly some of the web’s largest realty platforms have been caught selling customer information to marketing companies and even criminal gangs. Such platforms should be avoided at all costs. Marketers can be just as annoying and troublesome as criminals can. Finding a platform to conduct a protected real estate search should not be difficult as many of them exist online. One of the best ways to tell if a site can be trusted or not is to read its reviews. A site’s reviews will tell you more or less everything you need to know about it.
Understanding the Risks
Until you understand what threats await you online you’ll never be able to avoid them. Understanding the risks associated with searching for properties online can help you to protect yourself more effectively. One of the first things you need to know is that just because a site looks genuine does not mean that it takes its customers’ security seriously. Unfortunately some very large platforms particularly ones owned by the Zillow Group have been found to be selling people’s data to marketers. If marketers get hold of your information then they will begin targeting you, sending you unsolicited emails and messages. Constant harassment by marketers can be very annoying. Additionally, if criminals get your data then they can use it to impersonate you or steal money directly from your bank account. If marketers and criminals get hold of your data at the same time then things can get very complicated.
Taking Security Seriously
You need to take your online security very seriously if you are planning on conducting internet searches for properties. One of the most effective ways of keeping yourself safe online is by using a virtual private network, which will be covered in more detail in the next section. Another is downloading and using a firewall. Firewalls are programs that repel hack attempts and stop viruses from being able to establish footholds on your personal computer or laptop. If you have no idea how to keep yourself safe or how VPNs and firewalls work, consider hiring a managed security service to protect you. A managed security service will be able to download and install programs designed to protect you on the internet on your devices for you. When you take your security seriously the chances of you getting scammed or hacked are significantly reduced (but not zero).
Activating Virtual Private Network
What is a virtual private network and why do you need to use one? These programs essentially conceal your IP address which makes it difficult for hackers and ISPs to monitor your online activity; in simpler terms, they make you invisible. When you use a VPN you can browse the internet safely without having to worry about your data being stolen and misused. That being said if you willingly submit your data, i.e., hand it over to a company when you sign up for their site, then your data could potentially be misused, which is why it’s essential that you only ever sign up for authentic, verified realty platforms. VPNs are widely available and for the most part cheap. Most experts recommend signing up for a paid plan as they give you access to more servers and ensure that the servers you do use have fast speeds.
Verifying Agent Credentials
When you are trying to buy or rent a property you’ll inevitably end up working with a realtor. You need to take the same precautions to find a realtor as you do when finding a realty platform. Some realtors do not take client data seriously. You can tell a lot about a realtor by reading their reviews. A realtor’s reviews should help you to get a picture of what it is like to work with them. You can read what past clients have to say about them which will give you insight into buying or renting through their service. Remember that not all businesses have reviews and in many respects, that is a good thing. An absence of reviews means that a business’s customers have nothing bad to say about it. People seldom leave positive reviews unless they have received exemplary service, which from realty firms is rare.
Researching Property Details
When you are looking for houses to buy or rent on the internet you need to make sure that you spend time researching the properties you are interested in. Moving away from online security, if you do not do everything you can to ensure the property you are renting or buying is right for you, you could waste your money and come to regret your decision. A lot of people buy or rent houses on impulse without first conducting research and verifying that the properties are indeed right for them. Always visit a property in person before you make a decision to buy or rent it so you can be sure it’s right for you. A good way of finding out about a property is to hire a conveyancer. A conveyancer will be able to conduct extensive research, making sure that there are no issues with the house you are interested in and that it’s a good decision.
Avoiding Outdated Listings
One of the main reasons you need to find a reliable platform to use beyond data security is so you can avoid outdated listings. Sadly a large number of realty platforms have outdated listings posted on them. Outdated listings can be a massive annoyance when you are searching for a new home. If most of a platform’s listings are no longer active (as in they are no longer for sale or rent) then you’ll waste time getting in touch with agents, discovering they are not. You can avoid outdated listings by choosing a small platform that takes care to ensure that its users are given access to all of the latest properties. Make sure that you report dead listings to the realty platform you are using so they can scrub them from their system and get in touch with the agent to let them know such behaviour is unacceptable.
Adjusting Your Search Filters
When you are conducting online research and are trying to find yourself a new home, you need to make sure that you adjust your search filters accordingly. Realty platforms give people the ability to adjust their search filters so that they can find properties more effectively. Adjusting your search filters means that you’ll be able to find the house that is right for you. Some of the adjustments you can make include tailoring your search by specific locations or looking for houses within a specific price range. If the platform you are using does not have a lot of search filters for you to use then you should find another site; if you are unable to use search filters then you won’t be able to find the place that is right for you as quickly, efficiently or effectively. Consider getting in touch with the platform you are using and recommending that they add more filter options if theirs are sparse.
Hiring Qualified Attorneys
Finally, make sure you have a highly qualified attorney working for you so that when you do find a house to buy you can have the transaction processed and handled by them expertly. As mentioned earlier, conveyancers are used for researching properties and handling transactions. If you plan on hiring one then you need to make sure that the one you hire has a lot of experience and knows exactly what they are doing; to find such a lawyer, read reviews and conduct extensive online research. Ensure that the lawyer you hire has access to the latest property search tools too so they can find out whether or not there is anything wrong with the house or any ongoing disputes.
When you are searching for somewhere new to live you need to ensure your data is not handed over to criminals or unsolicited marketers. Unfortunately, protecting data is not as easy as it used to be. As well as keeping yourself safe you also need to conduct your search in an efficient manner so that you find somewhere new as quickly as possible; the quicker you are able to find a house the less stressful the process will be.