Finding Out How Much Someone Paid For a Home

by TTMK on November 26, 2012 · 8 comments

What did nosy people do before the internet?

Well, normally I don’t consider myself to be a nosy person. I would like to think that I’m somebody who normally doesn’t like to pry into things that really aren’t my business, and is able to respect boundaries.  This can apply to many parts of life, including two that are a part of this blog: money and relationships.

That being said, I found myself curious about looking up some financial information on somebody recently. Specifically, I was interested in finding out how much someone paid for a house.

The real eye opener to me was that I did this because I was curious how this person could afford the house he bought.  It was very surprising news that he bought that home, since he has always seemed to be a very frugal person, and I know he has a job that’s a fairly regular corporate middle-manager position.  I don’t think his wife works, so his income is it for them.   Looking this up was not quite trying to keep up with the Joneses, but it was a step in that direction. This despite having the belief – intellectually, anyway – that it doesn’t make sense to try to keep up with the Joneses.

I was curious because I personalized things, and compared his situation to mine.

Do you ever do that? Would you ever do that?

I went on Zillow, and found out the details of the house, learned more about the values of other homes in the neighborhood in which they bought.  It felt “dirty”, but that the same time, this information is freely available, easily accessible with a few clicks, and costs nothing.  Anyone could look up this information about me and the homes I’ve owned.  Maybe this is more normal than I think?

After thinking about this, I’ve landed on the notion that as long as one doesn’t get caught up in competing or comparing, it doesn’t hurt to simply get information to learn about houses and what money can buy.  After all, if it’s all completely publicly available, is it really anything to feel bad about doing?

Or, perhaps I’m rationalizing my surprising behavior 🙂

What Do You Think?

Have you ever found yourself interested in finding out how much a home cost?

Would you ever go to the point of looking up online how somebody paid for a home?

Do you think it’s something that’s sneaky, or no big deal these days?


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle November 26, 2012 at 7:37 am

Ugh yes I have done this before. It’s mainly just because I am curious. There’s a site here called StL Blockshoppers and it gives way too much information.


TTMK November 26, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Michelle – I’ve seen that one in Chicago too. Yes I’ve actually looked at it too. Guilt and curiosity sometimes go together it seems 🙂


Emily @ evolvingPF November 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm

I looked up the current value of my parents’ house because I was curious, and found out how much they paid back when they bought it (I knew the ballpark previously). When I told my parents I had done that they were a bit shocked/felt violated.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it if you never let the people know you looked up their house value or think about them (or yourself) any differently.


TTMK November 26, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Emily – I wonder if it’s a generational thing in terms of looking up values. There’s probably a tipping point in terms of age where it just seems so wrong, and even offensive. While for many younger folks, it just might be like normal publically available information. Which, really, it is in many cases these days 🙂


Kathleen, Frugal Portland November 27, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I think that this just shows how silly it is to be tight-lipped about our finances. Both my parents work in the public sector (salaries are published annually) and own a house (where you can look at Zillow). Why are we so precious about our money? Do you think your friend would have told you if you asked him what he paid?


TTMK November 28, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Kathleen – many of us are very guarded in terms of our finances, but the funny thing is that some of this is public information! I don’t know though if I would have the nerve to ask directly…even though the information is right there at our fingertips. Contradictory, right?


eemusings December 1, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Haha, I understand the contradictory feeling! Just one of those funny money dichotomies, of which there are so many.

You’d be surprised how much info is publicly available – we just don’t know what’s out there or how to find it, as we learned in journalism school. Some is free, some you can pay a small amount to get (which itself is a bit worrying…)

I don’t see anything wrong with accessing public info, in shoft.


Sue March 8, 2015 at 3:10 pm

We are buying a home, and the owners said they paid a price that I do not believe.
So how can I find out?


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