You’re Being Watched: Use of Recording Equipment During Showings

camera face zooming in, recording

Buyers Beware: Recording is Happening Here

camera face zooming in, recording
Digital Work Done by TheDigitalArtist

Ever tour a home during your real estate journey, and get a feeling someone’s watching? Well, they could have been. According to a survey done by LendingTree, 1 in 3 home sellers admit to secretly recording home buyers during showings. The survey polled just over 2,000 consumers, 347 of whom were sellers. The top reason for using cameras (49%) was to understand what buyers liked and disliked about the home. The remaining reasons were: 

– Gather any information that would be useful during negotiations (36%)

– Ensure my home is safe during showings (31%)

– See what my real estate agent is saying about the home (23%)

– Constantly on for security purposes (10%)

So, what has caused this new trend of sellers watching buyers?

The low cost of Wi-Fi-enabled cameras has made it easy for the average joe (men were found to be more likely to use hidden cameras than women in the study) to put them up around their home. These cameras allow them to watch the showing in real-time or come back to the recording later. By this year, Parks Associates, a consumer technology firm, projected that as many as 50 million homes would have at least one Wi-Fi camera*.

You might be wondering, isn’t this illegal?

Because one would not have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” when in someone else’s home—video recording is typically not prohibited. In Wisconsin, the law does not prohibit a seller from monitoring their home during an open house, nor does it require notification by the seller to interested parties that monitoring is occurring *. This law took effect in January 20202; however, there are some stipulations: no recording sharing may take place, and the bathroom cannot be under surveillance. 

So, what can a buyer do?

It’s always best to assume the seller may be watching on camera. One suggestion our agents have is to act as though the seller is present at your showing—because if they have a camera recording, they very well could be present at the showing. Additionally, with the prevalence of video recording doorbells and outdoor surveillance equipment—it’s best not to talk through your thoughts on the property until you’re away from the property entirely. 

Although the digital age has brought many benefits to buyers and sellers alike, this is one point that buyers need to be aware of as they tour homes. So next time you’re at a showing or visiting an open house, smile–you could be on camera. 

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