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Do You Stalk Property Tax Records?

Libby wrote a guest post on PT Money titled Stalking Property Tax Records [3] in which she said that “If we’ve ever met in real life – and even if we haven’t – and I know your name, address, or both, I’m going to look up your home’s tax records online.” She learned about it after her realtor suggested she look up local property values to get a better sense of what the homes were worth. She continued doing this after buying her house and would look up the tax records of her new boss, new coworkers, etc. She went on to talk about the awkward social situations she put herself in by having “too much” information.

Our society is very sensitive to many of these money issues. We don’t like to talk about our net worth, our salaries, how much we paid for our house, and a litany of other money issues. What’s funny is that if we did talk about it more often, we’d probably be better off. If you and a co-worker discussed salaries, you’d be put in a stronger position with your employer (one reason why employers don’t like unions). If you talked to your future prospective neighbors about the value of their home, you might not overpay for the house. But discussing money is one of the many social morays.

That said, do you stalk property tax records? Do you use that opportunity to take a peek into someone else’s finances? When we visit open houses, and I’m interested at all in the home, I always look up the real property tax records. When I meet someone, I don’t think to look up their home because I don’t really care. I don’t really want to know how much people earn or what their new car cost (to be honest, I don’t know anything about cars… I separate them into three buckets – affordable cars, nicer cars, and “not sure why that’s worth so much” cars) because it doesn’t affect me, just like knowing the price of someone’s house doesn’t affect me.

I feel like I may be in the minority though because I can appreciate the fun in financial voyeurism. There’s a reason why The Real Housewives of Whatever is popular – you get a peek into the lives of the rich and famous. Cribs was popular for the same reason. I love Shark Tank because it’s all the fun parts of raising money for a business, mass market edition, without any of the annoying parts.

Do you stalk property tax records?