Its natural for homeowners to be curious about what’s said during a showing or open house at their property, but with the prevalence of nanny cams, web cams and other recording devices, some sellers are recording potential buyers’ moves and conversations. To some, it might seem disconcerting to learn that they’re being recorded while viewing a property, but this is what’s happening with an increasing number of sellers.

Why use surveillance?

Homeowners may use hidden cameras during showings to keep an eye on valuables and discourage theft; however, they’re also being used to eavesdrop on conversations to determine how likely someone is to purchase the property. In homes with a large amount of valuables, breakables or even locked-up firearms, having surveillance is looked upon as another layer of security to keep those items safe.

Does it help or hinder negotiations?

If a seller overhears a couple commenting that this “home is perfect” than they may be less likely to negotiate on price or offer repairs. For this reason, its important for potential buyers to try and keep their comments neutral while inside the property and have more candid discussions outside, in the car or at the office.

What’s legal?

The law states that recording someone in a place where there’s a reasonable expectation of privacy is illegal, such as bathrooms and changing rooms, and a seller can argue that the buyer has limited expectations of privacy while walking through a home that’s not theirs. During a showing, the only real place a buyer can expect privacy is the bathroom. In an effort to protect themselves and potential buyers, sellers who intend on using cameras during showings and open houses, should post a sign at the front door letting people know recording devices are present, and include a note to the other agent that surveillance is in use. Its also advisable for sellers to let their agent know about any recording devices and possibly talk to an attorney just to confirm the cameras are not inadvertently being used illegally.

So many homes now have smart devices such as Amazon’s Alexa, doorbells with cameras and appliances with built in cameras, that the idea of a home having an extra set of eyes and ears is increasing. If an agent is aware of recording devices in a home its their duty to warn the buyers in advance, but as a rule, buyers may want to display poker faces and keep their comments impartial during showings so as to not give sellers a reason to not negotiate.