This past year was a big one for technology. It seems like everyone has the latest gadgets, from wireless doorbells, to talking towers and, yes, home camera and security systems.
In the past, if you went into a listed property, you and your Realtor could walk around and freely discuss the merits of the property. With the widespread use of technology, you must now expect that you are being recorded, in some capacity. A paragraph has been added to our local listing form (Northern Virginia) that asks a seller to reveal whether or not they are recording activity in their home. There is also drop down on our on-line listing entry, under Security, that would allow us to indicate if there is 'Security Surveillance.' There is nothing, however, that mandates this disclosure. As a Buyer's Agent, I check for this information, but I can only know what has been disclosed.
A Best Practice, for both Realtors and Purchasers, is to assume that you are being recorded and behave accordingly.
Most Buyer's Agents will advise their buyers to 'keep their cards close' in a negotiation. Obviously, if the seller has access to your running commentary as you viewed their house, that advice means nothing. Of course, even if you put in a fair offer, your comments made during the showing could have irritated the seller, leading to a potentially hostile negotiation. Remember, selling a home is often an emotional sale. Hearing that you don't LOVE their home, or that you plan to gut it, may not leave a seller feeling warmly toward your offer.
It is a Brave New World out there Buyers! Remember that your words are not necessarily private if spoken within a listed property. Behave accordingly and you stand the best chance of landing your next home!