For some time now I’ve been cautioning my clients on saying too much when viewing homes. In the past I’ve noticed the little red light on the open laptop or the nanny cam and my clients and I would nod at each other, stop talking and move along. However, these days recordings are becoming so common that it is changing the way we view properties for sale all together.
Ask a few different folks and you will hear different opinions on whether or not a seller can legally record a buyer in their home.
Can a seller record audio and video of showings? I don’t know. I still think technically you can’t, but we have to wait for someone to sue someone to find out for sure.
There is a distinction between audio and video and also a distinction between watching a live stream and a recording. I am not even going to attempt to get into the legalities of these, but sellers should really think consciously about whether or not they will watch or record audio and video of showings and if they will disclose that they are doing so.
In the meantime, know that you and I are most likely being recorded when viewing a home.
If we walk up to a home with a doorbell camera and I ring the bell I expect to be recorded. Yes, I do, but for a short period of time and only in that location. I also expect the home’s security system to capture which doors were opened and when.
I used to not expect a recording device that looks like a phone charger to capture audio and video of us discussing the kitchen design. Yet, I have seen them more and more now that I have learned to recognize them. Also, I know that I have been recorded at times I wasn’t aware that a recording device was in play. How? Well, the seller’s didn’t appreciate my commentary on the installation of their DIY floors it seems.
From the seller’s perspective the logic makes sense. Recordings allow sellers to manage security of their home. Eavesdropping allows them to find out that folks really, really hate the blue shag carpet.
But what about when a buyer says something that would affect their negotiating power. What about something said in confidence to a spouse at a time they felt they were having a private conversation. What if the recording catches personal information that has nothing to do with the property sold, a phone call with another party, or a private conversation between parent and child?
What if the seller was to publish these videos?
So from this day forward we can’t chat about a house inside the house because we are being watched. It is such a downer. When folks realize they are being watched they shut down, they stop engaging and they withdraw. Those emotions are not good for a showing, for connecting with a property and falling in love with a new home. Yes, in the summer we take those conversations outside and the cameras will catch us chatting on the front driveway for a few minutes. In the winter, we will hop into our cars and head off to another house.
There are exceptions. I have a couple buyers that love the recording antics. They tell stories, make funny remarks and have fun with it. I don’t think it’s helping the sales process, but it sure does lighten the mood.