There’s myriad reasons buyers don’t want their names associated with their home address. Certainly, celebrities or professional athletes aren’t eager to give up their home info, nor are public officials, police officers, or survivors of domestic abuse. In fact, the same applies to any homeowner who finds it unnerving that anyone with Google access can find their home address.
Whether it’s a matter of privacy or personal safety and security, keeping exactly where you live away from prying eyes is possible. And hiding a real estate purchase is available to everyone regardless of socioeconomic status.
Do you not want your name to pop up when someone searches real estate records? Here’s how to hide your home purchase.
Ask around in your network
It’s likely someone in your personal or professional circle has faced privacy issues when buying a home. So ask your various contacts for recommendations for real estate professionals. Then ask those agents about their experience in keeping purchases private.
“Buyers who are looking for confidentiality should work with agents that show that they are taking steps to safeguard their clients and clients’ information from the very beginning,” says Loy Carlos, licensed associate real estate broker at the Signature division of Serhant. “Agents have fiduciary obligations that require them to ensure, among other things, confidentiality, obedience, care, and loyalty to the client. That’s just the legal and ethical side of it.
“And if they are speaking about other clients freely to you in detail, they are likely doing the same about you. You should not trust that agent,” adds Carlos.
So chat with real estate professionals in your area, and discuss your privacy concerns. Be sure you feel comfortable and confident in their ability to guide you through the buying process.
“Having the wrong person can skew your entire purchase,” advises Ginny Ollis, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in San Diego Mission Hills in San Diego.
Erase your home’s internet history
Most multiple listing services require homes to be pulled off online sites within 24 hours of a closing. So confirm with the listing agent of the home you want to buy that this duty will indeed be performed in a timely matter. Removing the listing will purge the home’s information from online systems.
Then there would be only one way someone could find out whether you own a property. They would have to visit your local town hall and look up real estate transactions.
Hide a real estate purchase using a trust
People form trusts as part of estate planning. Trusts specify how assets—such as a house, money, or heirlooms—are distributed to loved ones after death without the hassle and costs of probate court. Yet trusts can also be used to hide real estate purchases. Your trust will own the home and be listed in the public records as the owner.
“If you have children, you should have a trust anyway,” advises real estate agent Beverley Hourlier, with Hilltop Chateau Realty in San Diego. “You can call the trust anything you want. Most people use their last name. But you don’t have to so people can’t associate the trust’s property with your real name.”
Hide a real estate purchase with an LLC
Another way to maintain your privacy and keep your address out of sight is by forming a limited liability company, or LLC. The IRS states an LLC is for a business structure. But you don’t have to own a business to form an LLC to hide your real estate purchase.
Regulations vary by state, yet most states don’t restrict LLC ownership. This means an LLC can be designated to a single individual, several members, corporations, other LLCs, or even foreign entities. You can learn more about setting up an LLC through your state’s business formation website.
Like a trust, your LLC will be listed as the owner of your property, which means you can keep your name off the official records—and keep your privacy intact.
In most states, you can set up a single-member LLC. But consider that you might miss a few important details forming a company on your own.
“You should speak with an attorney about how to set up a trust or an LLC correctly,” says Sam DeBord, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Danforth in Seattle.