Is It Okay To Take Pictures While Inside The Seller's Home?

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Compass 0524642

A buyer has just walked into your home and while you're not there, she and her boyfriend have decided to take multiple pictures of your bedroom, including the one's belonging to your children. What if the boyfriend took pictures & video of the master bedroom along with the master closet? Toss in a selfie and you have a pretty average showing. But is it legal and appropriate? 

The sellers home isn't in a public setting, but the interior & its contents are still the personal property of the home owner, so it makes for an interesting debate about both respect and privacy. 

I wouldn't appreciate anyone taking pictures of the inside of my home, especially of the kids rooms. If my home were under contract then that would be fine. I would understand why a buyer (who is under contract to purchase my home) would want to take pictures. I would feel more comfortable and less paranoid because I would have the buyers full names on the contract. What I've never understood is why buyers take pictures of bedrooms when actual pictures of the bedrooms are already on the MLS.

There are a lot of people out there who act like they can't survive a public appearance unless they're filming or snapping selfies. The intent isn't always criminal or sadistic, but it certainly raises concern when anyone is in someone elses house snapping pictures and taking video.

What about you? How do you feel? Have you ever taken a selfie by the homeowners pool or vintage sports car? Do you think it's inappropriate to walk around snapping shots like you're at a theme park? 

If you aren't under contract to buy a home you probably shouldn't be taking pictures or rolling film. That's my thought. There's a certain amount of privacy you give up when you list your home. You're allowing total and complete strangers to wonder around your rooms. They're using your bathroom, touching your furniture, sneezing in your kitchen and walking on your carpet. It's a germaphobe's worst nightmare. There's plenty to see both online (MLS) and in person. I don't understand the fixation with taking repetitive photo's. 

What do you think and why? 


Posted by
Greg Nino
RE/MAX Compass 
Direct & Text 7 days a wk: 832-298-8555 
Realtor since 2004
Mediator & Arbitrator for the TX Assoc. of Realtors
Member of the Professional Standards Committee for the TX Assoc. of Realtors
Arbitrator for the Comptroller's office for the State of TX for Arbitration of Property Tax Values

 Member of the RE/MAX Hall of Fame & Platinum Club


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Comments (15)

David Shamansky
US Mortgages - David Shamansky - Highlands Ranch, CO
Creative, Aggressive & 560 FICO - OK, Colorado Mtg

I am in total agreement with this. At what point has the line been crossed?

Long before people are in my closet taking selfies thats for SURE!


Aug 25, 2014 08:01 AM
Greg Nino
RE/MAX Compass - Houston, TX
Houston, Texas

Hey David, 

Can you imagine waling in with a Poloroid camera and taking pictures of people homes back in the 90's? They'd probably call the cops on you! 

Aug 25, 2014 08:03 AM
Fred Griffin Florida Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

    I showed a home recently, the MLS had instructions, "No Photos inside the house".   There was also a note on the counter that read, "No photos, please".

    In my opinion, a house for sale is a commodity.  Put the personal stuff out of sight, let people take photos. 


Aug 25, 2014 08:05 AM
Greg Nino
RE/MAX Compass - Houston, TX
Houston, Texas

I agree Fred. Generally speaking it's okay. Sometimes people just get too carried away.

Aug 25, 2014 08:07 AM
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Greg, depends on why they're taking pictures,not all listings have ample photos, buyers ho might be thinking of making an offer may take pictures but this usually happens with out of state buyers.  I personally don't think it's appropriate to take photos of personal properties,  selfies is a big NO!

Aug 25, 2014 08:08 AM
marti garaughty - Montreal, QC
a highly caffeinated creative type...

garaughty, abstract art, graphic design, WordPress consultant

Aug 25, 2014 09:47 AM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

Just one example of why I only listed my house (I've sold twice now) with agents who would be present at each and every showing.  No lock box on my home!  I don't want strangers wandering about my home unsupervised.....and a buyer's agent is not enough for me.  Nothing says they can all be trusted.  I want MY agent there representing me.

Aug 25, 2014 09:45 PM
Rose Mary Justice
Synergy Realty Pros - Dandridge, TN
Synergy Realty Pros

There are circumstances that may call for a more pics such as Grandpa is paying for the house so let him see what his money is paying for.  Everyone still does not have internet access to see,  whereas they can see the phone pics while visiting with grandpa.

Now if it is particuliar items they are spotting, then a red flag would certainly go up.

Aug 25, 2014 10:11 PM
Dale Bledsoe
Crown Key Realty - Tracy, CA
Realtor in Tracy, California

Interesting question. As Fred points out starting to see No Pictures Please a lot more often on the MLS. I will be discussing this with my broker to get another opinion. Great question.

Aug 26, 2014 01:41 AM
Suzanne Otto
Six Twenty Designs - Lansdale, PA
Your Montgomery County PA home stager

I think in the early stages of looking for a home, the listing pictures should be enough. And once a contract is signed, take all the pictures you want.

Aug 26, 2014 02:52 AM
Doug Rogers
Bayou Properties - Alexandria, LA
Your Alexandria Louisiana Agent

If agents did proper vetting (in- office consult, copy of driver's lice, loan pre-approval) I would not have a problem with pictures.

But as you know, there are agents who will drop everything and meet "their client" for the first time at the home. Who are these people and why are they in my house?

Aug 26, 2014 10:13 PM
Gregg Holnan
Protective Realty Group - Chantilly, VA

I encourage buyers to take pictures to help them remember the home. After touring several in a day they all tend to blur. If it is my listing, I have this discussion with the seller at the listing appointment - along with putting away things like cash, jewelry, guns, prescription drugs etc. 

If the home is listed we want it to show well, hopefully depersonalized of photos so potential buyers can visualize themselves in the home.

Aug 28, 2014 01:49 AM
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Depending on the number and quality of the photos provided online, I often preview homes prior to showing them and ask the listing agent if I can take additional photos to send to a buyer prior to their arrival.  Usually if I ask permission, it is granted.  Then I don't have to worry about my buyers trying to do it.  I talk to my buyers about this during our initial consultation and I explain all of the reasons in your post of why it isn't appropriate for them to take photos unless there is something specific that they want to remember about the house that they want to live in.  

Aug 28, 2014 06:25 PM
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster Real Estate - Gainesville, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

While showing one of my own listings to a couple whose agent had asked me the favor of showing them the home, one of the things the buyers did was snap cell phone pics of every room.  I finally asked, "Are my pictures not good enough online?"  The buyer replied by telling me that the photos of most listings she visits look nothing like the home.  In this case, they did.  Then I asked why she was continuing to take pictures.  She didn't have an answer, so she put the phone down and enjoyed her tour.  

Side note, I'm pretty sure she'll never buy anything because she doesn't take the time to actually look at a home while she's in it.  She just snaps photos.

Aug 31, 2014 06:16 AM
Kevin Hancock
Evergreen Home Loans NMLS 3182 - Poulsbo, WA
The Hancock Mortgage Team

I think it depends on intent.  If they want to take a picture so that they can remember some feature of the home, it seems acceptable.  If they are taking a picture of something so that they can post it on Facebook or Twitter, that is over the line.  No Selfies!

Sep 02, 2014 07:32 AM