Surprise, home buyers! You might be on hidden camera

A growing number of home sellers are using security cameras and microphones to spy on potential buyers as they tour their houses or condos.

With easy, affordable access to recording devices, real estate agents should expect every home to be monitored. Educate your Buyers that the potential exists, then apply these practices:

1. Remind them before entering any home that they may be monitored by devices recording audio, video, or both.
2. Do not discuss anything you would not say in front of the Seller. This includes whether you will make an offer, how much you are willing to pay, how the home compares to others on the market, finances, etc.
3. Consider avoiding negative talk of the home. Laughing at their choice of furnishings, family members or color choices.

There are many reasons why they may want to record what occurs in their home and, in most cases, recording without your knowledge is legal because it is their private residence.

70 percent would snoop on buyers. In a survey conducted by Harris Poll for NerdWallet this month, 15% of Americans who have ever sold a home said they’ve use surveillance cameras to monitor potential homebuyers. And 67% say they would use such cameras if they were selling a home that already had them.
“In a competitive housing market, everything is fair game,” says Holden Lewis, a housing analyst for NerdWallet, a personal finance website.

About 9.4 million U.S. homes, or 7.4% of the total, are equipped with Wi-Fi enabled cameras and mics, says Brad Russell, research director for Parks Associates, a consumer technology research firm. As many as 11 million or so have similar but more limited set-ups trained on the doorstep or outside the house, or embedded in a light fixture, Russell says.

That means up to 13% of homes have at least one Wi-Fi camera and mic. The cameras often are visible but can be hidden in stuffed animals, like a “nanny cam,” or concealed in bookshelves. This Web-enabled do-it-yourself home surveillance market didn’t even exist five years ago.

So, next time we are touring a home together, be careful of what might be said.

Caron Koteles Riha (248) 379-6651

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