Smile, you may be on camera during a showing

Be careful what you say at home showings. A third of sellers admitted in a recent LendingTree survey that they used hidden cameras to eavesdrop on showings. 

KRISTI BAILEY

Some say they used the cameras to find out what buyers liked and didn’t like about their homes. They say they wanted the information to make their homes more marketable. 

Another group replied that they used cameras to ensure their home was safe during showings or for other security reasons. 

Almost one-in-four said they wanted to hear or see how their real estate agent was representing their home.  

Others admit that wanted to glean information for negotiations in a market where buyers often must compete during multiple offer situations.  

Male sellers used spy cams more often than women sellers. Only 23% of the women sellers admitted to using a spy cam to track buyers.

This issue has been on REALTORS’® radar for several years. The National Association of REALTORS’® (NAR) legal staff did several advisories on the issue as far back as 2015. Here’s what NAR’s legal experts advised:  

“Listing brokers should know whether surveillance devices are present on the property. Once the listing broker knows that there are surveillance devices present, they should share this knowledge with anyone visiting the property to avoid any later claims that illegal recordings were made. This could be accomplished by posting notices on the property alerting all visitors that they may be recorded during the visit. If audio recording is being done, then obtaining consent from the visitors may also be required. Another way to disclose the presence of surveillance devices would be to disclose the presence of these devices in the MLS comment fields. 

“A buyer representatives should make sure to make their clients aware of recording devices disclosed or known to them and should consider making this disclosure in writing, such as in an email. While such a disclosure is not legally required since the buyer’s representative is not the one making the recording, it would help protect them from any later allegations if a client later claimed to be unaware of a disclosed recording device.” The full Window on the Law Video by NAR Senior Counsel Finley Maxon on this issue can be found at https://www.nar.realtor/videos/window-to-the-law/window-to-the-law-video-and-audio-surveillance-issues 

Many buyers and their agents say they suspected that they had been watched. And more than a quarter of the survey respondents said their agents had warned them in advance that they might be recorded during a showing.

While some shrug it off, 41 percent said they would back off a listing if they found out they were being secretly recorded. And more than half (53 percent) said secret recordings were unfair and an invasion of privacy. 



If current market conditions and surveillance concerns make buyers feel like they’re trapped between a rock and a hard place, there’s a simple thing they can do to keep what they don’t want the seller to know secret. It’s the old ounce of prevention advice. They should make notes during a showing but wait until they are outside the home and in their agent’s car or office to discuss specifics or bidding strategies.  

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee – Southwest Virginia region representing over 1,500 members and 100 affiliates involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Pending sales, Trends Reports, and the regional market analytics can be found on the NETAR websites at https://netar.us/voice-real-estate-northeast-tennessee 

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region, representing over 1,600+ members and 100+ business partners involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Weekly market reports and information for both consumers and members are available on the NETAR website at https://netar.us