When you tour a house as a prospective homebuyer, is something watching you? In a world where technology is at the center of almost everything, many homes are equipped with surveillance cameras ranging from basic “nanny cams” to high-tech motion sensors. From a real estate perspective, it is becoming increasingly popular for home sellers to utilize these devices to ensure the security of their home as it is shown to prospective buyers.
In-home cameras can act as a shield to ward off criminals who may attempt to steal belongings during showings. These devices are also used to gather intel capturing the prospective home buyer’s reactions to the home, which will help the seller know whether the buyer is interested in moving forward. When a potential buyer walks into a home, their facial expression often reveals their initial impressions. As buyers walk through the home with their real estate agent, they may say things like, “I can’t live without this home,” or, “This is exactly what I’ve been looking for.” If a prospective buyer doesn’t know they are being filmed, they are more likely to make comments to the buyer’s agent that they wouldn’t make to the seller’s agent. While this may be valuable information to the home seller, it can put the buyer in a sticky situation because, if the seller knows the buyer loves the home or isn’t concerned about the price, the buyer may lose some of their negotiation leverage.
One concern with placing a prospective homebuyer under surveillance is the legality of this practice. Laws differ from state to state on what can be recorded, where it can be recorded, and if those being recorded must be notified. In most cases, recording is prohibited in locations such as bathrooms, where a person would have “a reasonable expectation of privacy.” When offering advice to prospective buyers, most professionals suggest that buyers speak of the home during the showing as if the seller is in the room.
Mortgage professionals recommend potential buyers keep a “poker face” until they are away from the home, when, of course, it’s OK to reveal their true feelings. If you are planning to sell your home and considering video or audio surveillance, it is best to consult both your seller’s agent and a lawyer. The latter will know what you are allowed to record in your specific location, and a seller’s agent can give advice on whether recording buyers is a good idea. To read more about the practice of using surveillance with prospective home buyers, click here.