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Are You Being Spied On During Showings?

Be careful: You and your buyer may be under surveillance when touring a property. Some sellers are using surveillance cameras inside their home to record the sight and sound as prospective buyers walk through. 

The increase in these home recordings—many from security systems that owners already have installed—are raising some concerns surrounding privacy in real estate transactions, MarketWatch reports. 

The trend has spurred what Joan Rogers, a broker with Windermere Realty Trust in Portland, Ore., calls a “Hey, be aware of this” conversation among her colleagues and counterparts. Rogers says the discussion started in her area about three years ago, “about the same time that integrated home media and security became a thing, with devices that could record your home and report back to you on your smartphone. The conversation started happening that it would be wise to watch your mouth because you just never know what device might be recording.”

Many agents told MarketWatch that it’s not just that having to “watch your mouth” was uncomfortable — it’s more that such an uncomfortable breach of etiquette occurs without any real payoff for the deal.

Jill Comfort, a real estate pro in Phoenix, told MarketWatch she recalls recently walking through a home with her client and spotting several surveillance cameras that appeared to be “following us” and that made she and her client feel “awkward.”

“I can understand where some sellers are leery of strangers walking through their house, but that’s what happens when you put your house on the market,” Comfort says.

Andie DeFelice, a broker with Savannah-based Exclusive Buyer’s Realty Inc. and the president of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents, said she was unaware she and her client had been watched by the seller last fall when they toured. That is, until after the deal settled and the client was meeting a neighbor who informed him, “I just want you to know the guy who sold the house knew he had a buyer the minute you walked through.” The neighbor was able to repeat the conversation between the client and broker when they had first toured the property. 

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“It’s one of those things where it is the person’s home, they have the right to do whatever—but you feel a little violated,” DeFelice says.

Sellers may be “desperate” for feedback and turn to recorders to get it, says Ilyce Glink, author of 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask.

Brokers may want to hang a sign in the home or include a note on the listing form to alert other real estate professionals that there is a surveillance device on the property.

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Listing information last updated on November 12th, 2019 at 12:57pm PST.