Home surveillance systems have become increasingly affordable and commonplace. Homeowners are able to watch and hear what’s happening inside their homes from anywhere. All they need is a few hundred bucks and a wi-fi connection. Imagine, they can see their kids come home from school, the dog sleep on the couch and even you touring their house when it’s listed for sale. And they may be able to hear what you are saying too.
True stories of home surveillance and real estate;
- Seller has confirmed showings for 1:00 and 1:30. At 12:45, she logs onto her device to disarm the security system, pops some popcorn in the microwave then sits back and watches both showings using her home surveillance app. At 1:45 she calls her listing agent to give full reports of the showing activities including how comfy they seemed sitting on her couch.
- Buyers are aware of cameras in the house so they step outside to the front porch to discuss an offer. Seller hears every word through video doorbell connection.
Why should you care?
Video surveillance is all around us, why should it matter in real estate? Information that a seller gathers by watching or listening to you tour their house could put you at a disadvantage in the negotiation process. They may discover what your motivating factors are, that some repairs aren’t that important to you, or that you can afford to spend much more than you are offering. Negative comments about the condition of the house or their wacky collections could also hurt their feelings. In that case, they may not want to negotiate with you at all.
Always assume you’re being recorded.
5 Things to Keep in Mind While Touring a Home; (with a Realtor or at an Open House)
- Be respectful of the homeowner’s property.
- Don’t make ugly comments about the homeowner’s taste in furnishings, cleanliness, or overall condition of the home
- Don’t discuss potential offers or negotiation strategies while inside or near the home
- When attending open houses without representation by a Realtor, mum’s the word!
- In Oklahoma, sellers are not required to disclose that they are recording (or watching in real-time)
I don’t think sellers are using home surveillance systems to intentionally snoop on prospective buyers. I think they are simply using a technology and by default occasionally getting information that gives them the upper hand in the negotiation of purchase. So, while touring homes try to keep a poker face inside the house and discuss strategy either in the car, a coffee shop or back at the office.