People in general are much more tech savvy than they’ve been in the past. Thanks to technology becoming increasingly user friendly, it’s become easy for the Average Joe to set up cameras and recording devices in their homes…nanny cams, web cams, baby monitors, video game console cameras, surveillance cameras, SmartThings…all of these products and similar provide homeowners with a way to see within their home when they’re not present, whether it’s live streaming or a recording. This has put buyers in a strange position. Now, more than ever, it’s important for buyers to watch what they say – they may be recorded!
Now, I’m not saying that every seller that can is recording showings, but how will anyone know if they are? If a seller were to overhear on a camera that a buyer is really in love with their home, it would put the buyer at a disadvantage and could unfairly affect negotiating. The seller may feel inclined to counter at a higher than normal price in an effort to price gouge the buyer. Of course, by trying to take advantage of the situation, the seller will likely sabotage their own sale, but that’s an afterthought.
Is it legal for sellers to record showings? First of all, I AM NOT A LAWYER. You should ALWAYS consult an attorney before doing anything questionable. However, this is what I’ve found in my own research. It’s legal for homeowners to install security cameras in their homes. The catch is that homeowners cannot legally record conversations unless they are part of the conversation. North Carolina is a “one party consent” state, which means it is illegal to record a conversation without consent of at least one party and that party can be YOU. This prevents illegal snooping. Also, knowledge = consent (Read: “State-by-State Recording Laws”). If a person is warned that they’re being recorded and continue speaking, they are automatically consenting to the recording. Because the homeowner is not in the home, they are technically not part of the conversation and cannot record the conversation between buyers and real estate agents showing their home.
If you do see cameras running during a showing, keep in mind that the purpose isn’t always to get a one-up on negotiations. Sometimes it’s just about making sure that nothing goes missing and private drawers aren’t rifled through during a showing. Some sellers also feel it’s their chance to get unfiltered feedback on their home, which would allow them to pinpoint the negative features killing their home sale (Read: “Home sellers recording would-be buyers”). Of course, in our case, one could argue that agents have plenty of opportunity to provide that sort of feedback through the forms emailed by our central showing service.
All that aside, here’s some advice…
BUYERS: If you are at all interested in a home, keep your comments to yourself until you’re back in the car or sitting with your agent in another location. You can’t always tell when a camera is present or if it’s recording audio.
SELLERS: If you have cameras in your home, turn off the camera or audio feature, or you could face some serious legal repercussions. Agents have learned to recognize many camera products or, as one commenter on this post said, their buyers knew they were being recorded because they had the same nanny cams.
If you have any questions about buying or selling a home in the Wilmington area, give us a call at (910) 202-2546 or message us through our Contact page. We’d be happy to discuss your options.