According to reports from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), an increasing number of home sellers are using their home surveillance systems to monitor showings while they are out. While the desire to see how a showing went firsthand is natural, it could be hurting their chances at selling for top dollar – or at all. While the recordings are often made using security systems that were previously installed in the home and are completely legal in nearly all cases, if potential buyers or agents notice the surveillance they may opt out of purchasing the property.

Another potential complaint: Buyers may feel sellers have an unfair advantage if they are able to listen in on conversations the buyer and agent have about the house during the showing. For example, knowing a property holds personal, direct appeal to a buyer could cause a seller to hold out for a higher price. Furthermore, a number of buyers say if they notice they are being recorded and it has not been disclosed, they may choose to avoid the property.

Looking out for cameras following your movements is not enough. A number of smart devices can be used for listening, including doorbells, baby monitors, and innocuous objects, like figurines or stuffed animals, conventionally used as “nanny cams.” Most agents recommend sellers post a notice on the home that conversations or movements may be recorded if they are using this type of surveillance, and many say they would not hesitate to notify a potential buyer before a showing if they were aware of recording devices.

Web-based surveillance devices also come with another issue. If they are sold with the home, there may be a cache of old data stored inside them or in their associated account. Most sellers would delete the data or require the buyer to set up a new account, but not all are aware this is necessary. Even in the event a completely new account is in place, there can still be legal issues and personal conflicts over how the past recordings are used or deleted.

Investor Insight:
Most people assume they have the right to surveillance inside their own homes. However, home recordings can derail a deal and may create legal issues if potential buyers believe their rights have been violated, whether they have or not.


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  • Carole VanSickle Ellis

    Carole VanSickle Ellis serves as the news editor and COO of Self-Directed Investor (SDI) Society, a membership organization dedicated to the needs of self-directed investors interested in alternative investment vehicles, including real estate. Learn more at SelfDirected.org or reach Carole directly by emailing Carole@selfdirected.org.

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