It’s an uncomfortable truth in our modern world that we are often under surveillance. On the street, in stores and in a multitude of other public places, we can be on camera without so much as a “Say cheese!”
Now Realtor Magazine warns of another private place we may also find ourselves being watched without our knowledge: in a home we’re considering buying.
“More instances are surfacing of sellers using hidden cameras to monitor activity in their homes during showings,” notes the magazine. While you might think this occurs mostly in luxury homes, where sellers are concerned about their valuables, “[a]gents have discovered hidden cameras in fixer-uppers and other lower-priced homes as well.”
With the equipment becoming less costly, now “any seller can really afford it,” notes one real estate broker.
Sellers install such equipment for many reasons. One is to monitor their property as troops of prospective buyers march through it. Another, more insidious reason, is to gain negotiation advantages by secretly learning what buyers are thinking.
“Cameras that capture a buyer’s exuberance or dissatisfaction with a home could reveal important negotiation leverage that the seller can later use against the buyer,” explains Realtor Magazine.
To protect against such spying tactics, Realtor suggests buyers work out a communication plan with their brokers before entering a home. Some brokers suggest buyers text them with any comments as they walk through the house, rather than speaking aloud. Others tell clients to save any comments until they leave the showing.
In sum, it’s best to err on the side of caution: In today’s surveillance-happy world, assume others are listening in. And don’t forget to say “cheese!”