Those glued to HGTV well know the benefits of bugging a home with hidden cameras and listening devices during a showing. Opening the eyes of sellers and agents, these devices can point to overlooked or ignored strengths and weaknesses, making real estate selling a much easier endeavor. In the private sector, however, bugging could set you up for some ethical and legal pitfalls…
Bugs can give you timely, clear, honest feedback – the kind you’re not likely to get from buyer’s agents. Pricing feedback. Staging advice. Unappealing features (you know – the one’s you’ve been nagging your sellers about for months). But while bugging can bring to light ways a home can be improved to boost mass market appeal, they can also reveal details that present ethical dilemmas.
What if you overheard a potential buyer touting their willingness to go over-and-above listing price for a home – but they later submitted an offer less than asking price. Would it be ethical to use this knowledge in negotiations? Turns out, just because you need or simply want this feedback, doesn’t make it legal.
While sellers may legally install monitoring devices to protect property, when things get down to the legal nitty gritty, only video can be filmed and only in non-private locations (no bathrooms). Audio is a no-go. Most states require the consent of one or all people involved in audio recording procedures, and the buyer does not count as a “consenting party.” A signed release in advance or clearly posted “listening devices present” signage would be required for consent. Despite this, however, many sellers record audio without the knowledge of the real estate agents or other parties. (How careful are you or your clients about what you say or how you act in someone’s home?)
Don’t get bit by the wrong real estate selling advice. Shield yourself with the help of Properties Online.