When real estate agent Lenny Harris took buyers to see a possible property, he warned them to be careful what they said.
Even if sellers are not around, they are likely to be watching and listening due to the proliferation of smart home security devices.
While these gadgets are designed to protect homeowners from theft, they have also become a secret weapon for home sellers and a potential hassle for buyers and their agents.
"Due to all the home surveillance and all the cameras, we have changed the whole part of our business," said Harris, agent of Keller Williams Real Estate in Guangzhou.
Now, when Harris shows the house to a possible buyer, he tells them to avoid any reaction that suggests they are eager to buy.
"The seller was listening to what you said, and now he suddenly got the upper hand.
"Harris has every reason to be alert to spy sellers.
A survey by personal finance website NerdWallet found that 15% of Americans who sell homes said they used a security system to monitor potential buyers, and 67% said if they sell homes, there are devices like this that open up when buyers call.
Harris had first-hand experience with this kind of Snoop.
"I have a seller customer who has a dog," Harris recalls . ".
The animal was named Rudy, and when Harris showed the property, "I walked into the house and I said, Rudy, it's Uncle Lenny.
In fact, Harris continued to talk to the animal throughout the visit.
That night, the owner of the house called Harris's wife, who was also a real estate agent.
She told the seller that the visit went well and that they would show the house to another potential buyer the next day.
The seller asked, "will you do it, or will uncle Lenny do it?
Why did the seller call him Uncle Rennie "?
Because he has been listening with his home security system.
He heard jokes about Harris and dogs and possible buyers.
After that, Harris was with Will-be home buyers.
"Now you have to assume someone is looking on your shoulder," he said . ".
Amy mizuna, principal of Benoit mizuna Simon company
At Weston, there is no objection in principle when sellers are concerned about potential buyers.
"I think it's a very positive thing to be able to monitor who's going through your house in an open house," said mizuna.
Residential buildings in Metro West End cost an average of $1 million.
But, as miszna found out in a deal, it could upset buyers.
"When we were at the brokerage's open day event, an agent took out her mobile phone and took a picture of the master bedroom.
While I was watching, an article wrote, "Please don't take pictures in the master bedroom.
It was not until then that Mitzner realized that sellers had been following their every move.
But while the temptation to spy may be irresistible, is it legal? That depends.
"As long as the video doesn't record the sound, it's OK, so you can't inadvertently hear the conversation that the buyer is having," said Douglas Bray, Boston real estate agent in Century 21 . ".
There is a key exception: Never shoot videos where people have reasonable expectations for privacy.
This means there is no camera in the bathroom.
But many of the latest security cameras capture sound and video, which makes things more complicated.
In most parts of the United States, it is legal to record the conversation with the consent of only one party.
So if the seller is accompanying the buyer, he or she can record anything they say to each other.
However, if the seller is not present, he is not entitled to record the transaction between the buyer and his agent without consent.
The law in Massachusetts is more severe.
This is one of the 12 countries that need the consent of the parties to the dialogue to capture the dialogue electronically.
This means that the homeowner should inform the visitor that everything they say or do may be recorded or that he or she should shut down the system when the guest is present.
"We communicate with the seller," said Bray . ".
"If they do have a camera in their home, we recommend that they not be able to document how the buyer is going at home.
"Since it is always possible for a unscrupulous seller to plant a listening device without notice, Bray gives all potential buyers a head --up.
"We do advise our agent buyers not to communicate too much during the show.
If they like the property, place the card near the vest.
"While Realtors are concerned about possible seller monitoring, many potential buyers may not care much.
The NerdWallet survey found that 75% of US buyers would not mind if sellers recorded their visits.
Perhaps they believe that they have no right to privacy under the roof of others.
Or they just know when to close their mouths.
Vasabre can reach at Hiawatha. bray@globe. com.
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