Brokers have collected information on real estate transactions including addresses in the password-protected tehingud.ee database for years. The database includes information on sale of apartments, including dates and prices. It is strange that the portal has been allowed to operate for years. A quick internet search shows it was founded in 2011 by self-proclaimed real estate expert Kristjan Gross. An article from years ago suggests that the portal charged 99 cents for a query. It also reveals that the database had information on more than 5,000 transactions from all over the country when it was launched and that data was added regularly. Searches of price information could be based on county, parish, town, borough, street, size and condition of real estate object.
«We have reason to suspect that the website uses data from the Land Board’s transactions database,» Jürgens adds. «We do not know how the data ends up in the brokers’ portal; however, current legislation states it can only be accessed by licensed valuators,» says Tiia Redi, executive manager of the Estonian Association of Appraisers. The matter is made more peculiar by the fact that the portal’s owner works as a valuator of land and admits he has access to the Land Board’s database.
«It is possible to use transaction and land register data to indirectly identify persons who have participated in transactions,» Jürgens explains. The state has so far kept to the principle that people’s income is not public information, and that includes proceeds from sale of real estate. «The trend is towards openness elsewhere in the world. The Land Board will analyze the possibility of amending laws that regulate use of transaction data. The main question is whether and to what extent society is ready for all real estate transactions to be made public. Disclosing sale prices could constitute sensitive information as it ties into people’s financial interests,» Jürgens adds. She says that the board feels corresponding public debate is necessary.