The Seller May be Watching and Listening
Speak up, I can’t quite hear you
An increasing number of home sellers are
using security cameras and microphones to spy on potential buyers as they tour
their homes. Any information the sellers gather may then help them when it
comes time to negotiate with the buyer on a purchase. This trend has been
fueled in recent years by the availability of low-cost Wi-Fi enabled cameras
and mics that homeowners can set up themselves. They can then view a
prospective buyer, in real time or on a recording, via the internet and by
using a laptop or smartphone.
even exist 5 years ago.
According to Brad Russell, research
director for Parks Associates, about 20 million (13% of the total) homes in the
U.S. have some sort of surveillance equipment, either in the home, at the front
door, or throughout the grounds. He added, “This
market didn’t even exist 5 years ago”. While cameras are often openly
displayed, they can also be concealed in light fixtures, book shelves, etc in a
secret “nanny cam” recording style. This home surveillance trend is expected to
only increase with time.
may be illegal.
Surveillance laws vary by state. In many
states, eavesdropping or audio recording requires the consent of at least one
person being recorded, and some states require the permission of all parties. Video
recording is a bit trickier, though. It is prohibited in places where a person
has a reasonable expectation of privacy – say, a public bathroom or their own
home. But such privacy zones would not likely include other people’s homes.
The takeaway? You’ll still want to view a
home in-person before you buy a home. But assume you are being watched and
heard and conduct yourself accordingly. Wait until you are away from the
property to discuss any substantive details with your partner and your real estate