Property Search PrivacyEver visit a website looking for something, for example houses? Then every other time you searched for something else, Zillow,, Trulia or some other real estate brokerage website shows up first in your search rankings! Some say “pretty cool… how’d they do that”. More and more are saying “OK, that’s enough”. Enter the growing area called Online Behavioral Advertising.

Many of the ads you receive on Web pages and on web searches are, believe it or not, customized just for your eyes only. Ads you see will be based on predictions about your interests generated from your visits over time and across different Web sites.

This type of ad customization – sometimes called online behavioral or interest based advertising. It works through a system of files on your computer called “cookies”. Like crumbs used to document “where you have been” these cookies tell websites a lot about where you have visited, what you have searched on and what you are clicking on. Then, this pattern of interest gets documented and entered into a profile created just on your viewing habits. They may not know your name (at this point) or street address but they know your city and what interests you. This data is them merged into other data collected such as DMV auto registrations and other data. Then when they can collect an actual name, the systems can then add street addresses and other personal data.

This website uses session based tracking cookies that enhance your property search experience, but we do not harvest behavioral or tracking information from your computer like many other property search websites. The only way we retain any information about you is if you create an account. If you look at our privacy policy, you will see that we retain the information but keep it safe and confidential.

On many other real estate websites, Big Brother Is Watching! Recently the Federal Trade Commission dug deep into these data warehouses to make sure no privacy issues are being raised. Well they found a lot. There is an entire internet industry based on profiling and segmentation.

Giving consumers an option of “do not track me” has been a hot topic of discussion in Washington. The White House and the Federal Trade Commission claim they want to work with the advertising industry on a voluntary basis to make it easier for consumers to opt-in or out data collection for advertising purposes. Just the fear of regulation prompted some of the internet’s biggest players to agree to “talk” about their policies.

Yahoo, just this past week, said they would have a simple button consumers can click if they want a Tracking-Free experience.

With the White House’s involvement ratcheting up the issues, it has theoretically forced Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL to stop monitoring the Web-surfing habits of users who click a “Do Not Track” button on their browsers.

So if you care to, go to and let the system do its magic then you can OPT OUT of tracking from the data collectors, make a complaint or learn more about the policies.