As more real estate shopping moves online, home buyers could be at greater risk of identity theft, financial risks, and other dangers from cybercrime and hackers. The reliance on technology could leave the real estate market in a vulnerable spot if proper precautions are not taken.
More Digital Home Buyers
Advances in technology have made shopping online easier than ever, with e-commerce changing industries from general retail to even real estate. As many as 44% of home buyers look online for properties nowadays, suggesting an overall shift in market trends to customers preferring to shop online.
Certain companies are even looking to expand farther than simply looking online for real estate, allowing home buyers to manage the home-buying process online, directly from those looking to sell property, skipping the involvement of real estate agents entirely. A variety of start-up companies are cropping up worldwide, putting the full buying power in the hands of the average consumer. This shift isn’t just limited to private real estate and homes for families; commercial entities are also now able to manage their entire rental process digitally, connecting directly to landlords. While brokers will still be able to use these digital platforms, it is incredibly likely we will see more business owners taking their real estate shopping entirely into their own hands.
Risks For Cybercrime Increasing
While there is an undeniable convenience factor to being able to manage one’s own real estate buying process with no middle-man, this puts many homebuyers at an increased risk for cybercrime. Because these sites manage the entire process online, all of a customer’s vital information needs to be processed digitally; everything from addresses to social security information to large sums of money is being processed online, where they are at risk of theft from hackers.
The precedent for this has already been set by existing security failures and weak points exploited by existing cybercriminals who target the real estate market. According to a recent report from Thales, 42 percent of U.S. financial service institutions have already experienced a breach (that they know of), and 12 percent have been victims of multiple data breaches. Many of these financial institutions are responsible for handling mortgage payments, closing fees, and many other elements of the home buying process.
Hackers have already shown a tendency towards targeting the real estate market; recently, scammers have been documented targeting folks buying their homes online, looking to capitalize on closing fees and payments from unsuspecting home buyers. As more digital marketplaces are created for purchasing homes without the added security of a broker or real estate agent, this trend is likely to grow.
While it is true that between 75% and 80% of all malicious attacks come from within an organization, not from an external threat, it is still important to be aware of the growing risks of digital purchasing, specifically for large investments like real estate. More cybercriminals are seeking to capitalize on these new opportunities, and it is essential to keep your information and finances secure while looking to purchase a home.