"Transparency" hits home

“Oh my god!”

My wife was in the other room.

“Someone is taking pictures of our house and putting them on the web. Look, there’s your car!”

She was checking out our house on Zillow.

The Zestimate didn’t bug her. The invasion of privacy did.

What she saw was our home on Google Street View, which Zillow recently implemented. This comes in addition to the “Bird’s Eye” view of our home that I wrote about with some unease months ago.

What’s next? “Bedside View”? Hi-def closet shots?

Right next to the rather close-in street view of my home, there’s a link that says “Have a photo of this home? Add a photo”.

Hey, we’ll see what happens. God knows who’s been snapping shots of my place!


I love Street View. And all this online real estate innovation from companies like Zillow is great … at arm’s length. Maybe not so much when “transparency” hits my home.

Thinking about this just now, it strikes me that innovation in home search has come to be defined by exposing as much as we can about homes, sometimes to a fault. I have celebrated this myself. But at times like this, I would rather see home search guided more strongly by fidelity to the way people search offline, which is more desultory, conversational — and private.

I also wonder why my home is shot through with Web 2.0 sunshine while the real estate transaction itself remains a shadowy realm. That bothers me.

The issue of online privacy as it relates to our homes is a simmering issue just waiting to boil over. I may criticize the NAR a lot here, but at least I can opt-out of some of the online exhibitionism in the new VOW policy.

You notice I have not linked to my home on Zillow. That’s a private matter between me and the next leering midnight searcher.

— Brian Boero