Video surveillance used to be from a birds-eye view but, as the use of home video security monitors increases, so have calls to REIX on how to deal with this relatively new concept that has come to roost in our seller’s home.
Properly advising a seller or buyer on the acceptable use of video surveillance, particularity during showings, can do much to mitigate potential issues.
Simply put, sellers need to be advised that making and using recordings obtained without consent is illegal and could constitute criminal conduct with significant penalties or the sellers could be subject to a civil action brought by a buyer who did not know or consent to the recording.
But it is the seller’s home, don’t they have the right to record the goings-on during a showing for safety reasons? Legally, they don’t unless consent from the parties has been obtained. But I put a comment in the private remarks of the listing disclosing that the buyer and their agent may be recorded while viewing the home – isn’t that enough? While disclosing the fact that the home is under video surveillance is certainly a courtesy, it does not meet the standard of consent required.
Consider these scenarios:
- The buyers are touring the home with their agent and are commenting on what they like and don’t like about the house. They particularly liked some of the garage finishing’s and commented as such. After the showing, the seller’s agent called the buyer’s agent and said, “my seller really liked what your buyers had to say about the garage and the rest of the house, it seems they really like the house – are they ready to put an offer in?” The seller had been watching and listening to the showing remotely.
- While viewing a home, the buyers keep commenting on the seller’s possessions and make a particularly disparaging remark about an “ugly” couch in the living room. After the showing, the buyer’s agent receives a call from the seller’s agent that the sellers are irate about the comments about their dear, recently departed aunt’s sofa and don’t wish the buyers to return to the property.
- A buyer’s agent knows their buyer is working with a tight budget. As they are walking through the home the buyer and agent continue to comment on how the home might suit their budget if they could get the property for $350,000 instead of the asking price of $380,000. They were not aware that they were being recorded and now the seller knows their bottom line.
Take the time to educate your seller on the rules and their responsibilities when recording in their home, the penalties can be severe. If acting for the buyer, suggest that they make notes during the showing to discuss on the way to the next viewing instead of conversing in the house… you never know who might be watching!