What? You were spying on me?

Real Estate Agent with Springer Realty Group

I spent a Saturday showing homes to a client.   I spent a Monday explaining to my Broker why my clients had made a lot of negative comments about one particular (outdated....think brown paneling, avocado green carpet, etc.) home.


Why was I having to explain this?   Because the seller had called my Broker to complain about the negative comments my buyers had made while touring the home!!   This was a lesson well learned in this day of technology.


It turns out the Sellers were next door listening to our every word on their baby monitor and when they didn't like the negative comments they called to tell my Broker how "unprofessional" I am!   I was appalled to say the least.   They felt no shame in eavesdropping and felt quite justified in lodging their complaint.   Needless to say my buyers did not buy that house, nor have I ever shown it again.  The last time I noticed it is still for sale.


The moral of this story:  I now enter ever house I show under the assumption that I am being watched and/or listened to through the large variety of "spying" devices now available to the general public.   Not that I needed this experience to be professional and do my job in an above board manner however, I am super sensitive now and remind my buyers that the possibility exists.   I still feel my original buyers were more than entitled to voice their opinions about the "product" they were viewing, however, why borrow trouble?  We can talk outside when the showing is over.

Debby Singleton, 610-496-9094

RE/MAX Results Realty, 610-489-7355

Collegeville PA

Licensed in PA since 1993


Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Cheryl Ritchie 08/31/2011 09:48 PM
  2. Donne Knudsen 09/06/2011 08:07 AM
Pennsylvania Montgomery County
Active Rain Newbies
Pennsylvania Realtors
The Vent
touring homes
collegeville pa

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Rocky Dole
Revelation Real Estate - Maricopa, AZ

I guess that this is kind of a wake up call to everyone that there is never any privacy and that anything you do or say could be recorded.  There are always going to be those people out there that are so paranoid that they are going to use equipment like this to keep an eye on things.  There are also always going to be those people out there that have nothing better to do than to make unfounded complaints.

Sep 02, 2011 04:25 PM #95
Steven Turetsky
Comprehensive Building Inspections & Consultants - Staten Island, NY
Building Moisture Analyst

I think it's creepy how they were listening in, but instead of holding yo responsible for their bast taste in decorating (or outdated decorating), they should be intelligent enough to realize what is true. These sellers seem like the type of people that would be difficult throughout any business deal.

Your buyers have the right to dislike anything about any home they are looking to purchase, and you have the right to agree (or disagree) with them.

If everything else was right about the house, perhaps you should have reminded them that they shouldn't base the ultimate opinion on decorating, especially if the deal was "right." The carpet could always be changed, as could the paneling.

As a Home Inspector, my feeling is; "who cares about the color of the carpet, wall paper, paint, etc. In most cases, personally, I would want to put "fresh" carpet in anyway.

Sure, be careful of what you say... the walls have ears, but do your job the best you can do. Be honest and loyal to your client; they will appreciate it. In the end; you will be and do better!

Sep 02, 2011 05:26 PM #96
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

It wasn't even your negative comment!  I have told people to assume they are being watched when in homes.

Sep 02, 2011 07:17 PM #97
Kathleen Vetrano
RE/MAX Gateway - Falls Church, VA
Helping YOU Achieve YOUR Dreams

I think it is wise to be aware of the fact...where ever you go you there may be recording or video.  I sometimes wonder about this camera on my computer ;-)

Sep 02, 2011 07:22 PM #98
Lisa Cromwell
RE/MAX Premier, Northern VA, Loudoun County - Leesburg, VA
Realtor, CRS, Loudoun, No. VA

Unreal!   Well, your story definitely serves as a reality check to us all and I appreciate you sharing it here! 

Sep 03, 2011 02:54 AM #99
Thomas Haught
The Russell Realty Group - Saugus, MA

Thomas Haught

Hmmmmm...it would seem that you reap what you sow on this one.  If you are willing enough to "spy" on your potential buyers, then you better be ready to listen to comments that will most likely be insulting to you.

I have toured very nice homes, and yet the buyers still have a few negative comments that would have probably insulted the home owners a little bit (think pink fuzzy couch). When buyers are looking at what will most likely be the most expensive purchase of their lives, they will, and should, scrutinize every facet of the home.  Even homes that they like and eventually buy will elicite negative comments at the outset.  Its the nature of the beast, so to speak.

Now, that being said, as far as comments I make with my clients, maybe I would be a little careful with my wording even when I agree with something that was said. Just in case.....

Sep 03, 2011 03:31 AM #100
Sharon Sein
Sein Organizing Solutions & Home Staging - Feasterville Trevose, PA

So, the sellers "find out" what a buyer really thinks and instead of using the info, they want to "get even" with you?

Very creepy indeed.

Sep 03, 2011 08:22 AM #101
Mike Henderson
Your complete source for buying HUD homes - Littleton, CO
HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848

I didn't read what all the people were saying on comments, but did any question the legality of what they were doing.  I'm not sure but it could very well be illegal.  If I am you I'm telling my broker to call their broker and complain about being spied upon with unauthorized devices.  Is the listing agent aware?

Sep 03, 2011 03:13 PM #102
Daniel Z Stoltzfus
Lancaster, PA

Thanks for the eye opener, er on second thought, ear opener!! I will very likely be on the guard the next time. 

Sep 03, 2011 04:49 PM #103
DeeDee Riley
Lyon Real Estate - El Dorado Hills CA - El Dorado Hills, CA
Realtor - El Dorado Hills & the Surrounding Areas

Good to know, Debby but they should have expected less than perfect comments by reading your description!  Thanks for sharing.

Sep 03, 2011 04:50 PM #104
Yvonne Wilder
Halter Associates Realty - Woodstock, NY

What nonsense! Your broker should have stood up for you.  It is ridiculous and unrealistic to expect that there will be no comments from potential buyers, that a great agent will not be pointing out short-comings or high points to a buyer client/customer as the home is reviewed.  These folks are short sighted, it is not a reality TV show where there will be a make over by a professional:  this is real life, it is buying and selling in the real world - a world where a listing agent or staging professional has already had input if this spying method is employed.  And the listing agent should get an earful from you!

Sep 05, 2011 09:02 AM #105
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Area Real Estate

I'm not sure this is right? Too bad they weren't mature enough to understand that the buyers are entitled to their comments on their home. I'm not sure the eavesdropping is considered the correct way to get buyer feedback? Does the listing agent know? LOL.

Sep 05, 2011 11:50 AM #106
Kasey & John Boles
Jon Gosche Real Estate, LLC - BoiseMeridianRealEstate.com - Boise, ID
Boise & Meridian, ID Ada/Canyon/Gem/Boise Counties

Yep, this happened to me once too. It's so strange.  I met an agent over at the house to discuss a major water damage issue and how we were going to deal with it.  We were there for quite a long time and then heard a clicking sound.  Turned out the sellers had put a tape recorder hidden on a plant shelf and were recording our conversation and we had been there so long that the tape had run out.  I now always think there is a chance we are being recorded.  -Kasey

Sep 05, 2011 05:05 PM #107
Catherine Marrone
Integrity Residential Brokerage LLC - West Newbury, MA
West Newbury MA real estate, Essex County

I often wonder if I'm being recorded or video taped when I show property.  Wonder if I'm being paranoid or simply facing the fact that the technology is there and can easily be used without anyone knowing it. 

As far as your showing - it's unfortunate that the seller didn't use the negative comments about their home to improve its saleability.  Carpet and paint isn't that expensive and can easily turn a negative into a sale!


Sep 06, 2011 02:04 AM #108
Hank Lopez

What a world we live in!  You are never alone. Let's look at the positives.  The sellers will now know what they have to do to sell their home.  If they heard it from you, I'm sure you will not be the only agent and clients to comment on the place. 

Sep 06, 2011 06:13 AM #109
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Debby, I am here because of Donne's Re-blog and just like I said to her I am going to say to you: Ironically I have been saying this for the past 15 years to my buyers, once we leave the property that is when we should discuss the pros and cons of the property. I did not know that this type of behavior exists, I always like to err on the side of caution. So from these observations looks like there are a lot of Secret Agents Sellers out there.

So with that said now I will read what others had to say:)

Sep 06, 2011 09:08 AM #110
Liane Thomas -Top Listing Agent
BROKER Allison James Estates & Homes BRE 01885684 - Corona, CA
Bringing you Home!

OMG! I would have never thought of that! Thank you for sharing!

Sep 09, 2011 12:23 PM #111
Mary Hillerman
Crye-Leike Realtors® - Bentonville, AR

Good Morning,  The seller's should have appreciated the timely and honest feedback they received!  I advise all of my buyers that the nanny cam could be on and only make comments you would to the seller's face.

Oct 18, 2011 01:13 AM #112
Jane Peters
Home Jane Realty - Los Angeles, CA
Connecting you to the L.A. real estate market

That is terrible, Debby.  No wonder the house is still on the market, because these sellers are nuts.

Dec 13, 2011 02:18 PM #113
Matt Robinson
Professional Investors Guild - Pensacola, FL

Debby, I would have called up the complaining sellers and told them that if they didn't like my clients comments about their ugly house, then they should do something to make their house less ugly.  But I'm somewhat of an antagonist, so I realize it's probably not the most professional thing to do.

If they're eavesdropping on showings, it certainly wasn't the first time they had heard it...so getting upset about it is just ridiculous. 

Feb 19, 2012 01:35 AM #114
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Debby Singleton

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