The use of in-home monitoring systems is on the rise. Technology has made it simple and cost-effective to install cameras that can allow you to interact with people (and pets) in your home. Siri and Alexa listen to your every request for music and shopping. Cameras allow you to see who is at the door - even when you’re not home. Smart thermostats keep your home at the perfect temperature at all times of the day and night. Even your refrigerator can tell you what you need from the grocery store!
But what about when your house is listed? Is it okay to watch (or listen-in) as your home is being shown? There are a few things to consider:
Yes, you can watch and listen to people in your home without disclosing to them that you are doing so. Former attorney for the IA Association of REALTORS®️, Paul McLaughlin stated “I am unaware of any law requiring a homeowner to give any notice to anyone (including their agent, the buyer’s agent or any consumer) regarding if they have “mic’ed up” or “nanny camera’ed “ their house.”
Then the question is asked whether or not a homeowner can record people in their home without their permission. To that I say- that is not the issue! Whether or not the showing is recorded, the homeowner may hear some information that could put the buyer at an unfair disadvantage in a negotiation. Whether it’s recorded is immaterial.
So this is where ethics creeps in. The seller may be trying to gain an unfair advantage by listening in on conversations that the buyer and buyer’s agent don’t know are being listened to. That’s just not cool.
Here are my recommendations:
As a buyer or buyer’s agent, assume that you are being monitored. Keep your conversation to features of the home. Don’t share anything that could be used against you while you are on the property. (FYI- those RING doorbells can see and hear quite a ways down the driveway!)
As a listing agent, don’t let your seller be a creep! Advise that they resist the urge to listen in as their home is being toured. They would want the same courtesy when viewing other homes.
Just for fun- here’s a video to help you remember-