I recently received a request from a new homeowner to remove ALL photos of the home she recently purchased from a Seller I represented.  She stated that she felt unsafe with the interior layout of her home and all of its information being shared on the internet.

This is an extremely rare request but, understanding her concerns, I sought to resolve the situation.  I quickly found out that this is a growing concern for some home buyers and one that is not easily resolved.

As a listing agent, we are given permission from the Seller to share photos of the property on the internet.   The Arizona Association of Realtors (AAR) Purchase Contract, Section 7C states:

Owner authorizes Broker to provide the information on the Listing/Data Entry Form, and any photographs of the premises, to ARMLS for publishing and dissemination, in whole or in part, in printed or electronic form, including via the internet, to ARMLS participants and the general public, even after the cancellation or expiration of the listing.  Broker is authorized to report the sale, exchange, option or rental of the premises, and its price, terms and financing, for dissemination through ARMLS or otherwise to authorized ARMLS participants and to the public and for use by companies engaged in selling information for various purposes, including but not limited to appraisals or evaluations of tax assessments.

Listings are input into a local MLS system then picked up by websites such as Zillow, Redfin, Realtor.com and several affiliated websites.  There’s also many broker websites across the country that may pick up the listing and share it as well.  Unfortunately, listing agents have no control over the hundreds of internet places these home listings may appear.

This is great for Sellers because it increases the likelihood their home will sell.  After all, 90% of Buyers start their home search on the internet.  It’s also great for Realtors and appraisers who are acquiring comparable listings for future home Sellers and Buyers.  Consequently, Buyers, after purchasing a home, may not find the pictures and information on the internet quite as appealing anymore. 

Once a home sale has closed escrow, the agent/broker no longer has access to make changes, including deleting photos, to the listing. 

 No data may be removed from the MLS compilation other than by the service. Although a listing may be removed from display in the MLS compilation of current listing information, all data submitted to the MLS will remain in the database for historical and other purposes approved by the service. In addition, no Broker Participant or Real Estate Subscriber may change or remove listing information that pertains to the description of the condition of the property, including property photos, upon a status change of any kind unless it is to (1) supplement or correct the remarks to give additional information pertaining to that status change, (2) delete owner or occupant names and telephone numbers, security codes, lockbox codes, or email addresses, or (3) correct inaccurate information to the extent required to comply with Section 8.3.

If you are a home buyer concerned over interior photos of your home being shared, you may ask your realtor to write into the contract, “Sellers’ agent to remove all interior photos of home from MLS prior to changing status.”  This will remove the interior photos of the home from the MLS, but will not remove them from third party websites.  The rest is out of a realtor/broker’s control.  The internet is forever.  Anything posted online will stay online even after it is “delet