Spying on Buyers
We have occasionally plotted out offers with our buyers while still inside the home. Seated comfortably at the seller’s kitchen table, those conversations likely included sensitive information like how much our client was willing to pay. It was fine – the sellers were not listening.
And speaking of sellers not listening, buyers sometimes critique a seller’s taste in exceedingly unflattering terms as they are walking through. Sometimes there is doubled-over laughter. This is impolite but it happens. Mercifully, no feelings get hurt and no bridges burned because it is not like the seller is listening, right?
Those days are over
Some sellers actually ARE listening, and watching your every move.
Security equipment has gotten more advanced and cheaper. It often captures video and audio. I first realized this when I called to give a seller feedback on a showing. I relayed the conversation I had just had with the buyer’s agent. He seemed to know already that the buyer was interested. While he did not admit to eavesdropping (and I didn’t ask) he said, “They were here for 46 minutes.”
“How did you know that?” I asked.
“I could see them on my phone using the security camera app.” He was apparently parking in front of Terry’s Office Tavern during showings watching everything that happened. That is how he knew when people left and he could return home. In so doing he gleaned a bit more information than just when he could return. You might argue that he gained an advantage in the negotiations that followed, particularly if he overheard the buyer’s supposedly private conversations.
Buyers beware. This market has been tough on you for years and now there is one more thing to worry about. Next time you are shopping for a home, assume someone is listening and quell any urge to insult the wallpaper. Try to contain your excitement about finding the one perfect house in the universe.
But is Spying on Buyers Legit?
Sellers, you beware too! Be cautious about your security system because some of this is illegal in our state. Our attorneys say that capturing buyers on audio in Washington is not lawful. There is a reasonable expectation of privacy for conversation, even while buyers are inside your home. Sellers should disable the audio portion or else obtain consent. I am told that very clear signage out front at the entrance disclosing that audio is being recorded is likely enough to keep you legal.
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