Silence is Golden When Showing Homes to Buyers

By
Real Estate Agent with Solutions Real Estate CA DRE #01490977
https://activerain.com/droplet/5gdb

Silence May be Golden When Showing Homes to Buyers

 

I had a number of showings today and the smart home technology (Ring Video doorbell, Nest Thermostat, a couple of devices that appeared to be Alexa-type devices) was immediately noticeable in one home.

 

It was another vivid reminder to comment to my client that we needed to be cautious about our conversations while in that house, and other homes we were to see. Maybe there was nothing to worry about...maybe there was! The buyer got it immediately.

 

Smart technology that allows homeowners to listen and/or record activity in their homes…including Realtors showing them…is becoming pretty commonplace, and it’s smart to keep in mind that silence may be golden between you and your buyers in any house, whether you see cameras and other potential recording equipment or not.

 

And even standing outside the front door and having a conversation could be an issue.

 

security cameraBear in mind that equipment may be rather obvious...a tell-tale blinking red light...or not noticeable at all.

 

Being silent may be stretching it a bit, and an innocuous conversation about the home might be fine.

 

But certainly, as a buyer, talking about how much you love the property, that you are considering possibly making an offer, and similar comments that could threaten your negotiations are best left to another place and time.

 

Silence IS golden when and where you might be observed, or worse, overheard.

 

I’m no expert but I suspect all states regulate the use of audio and video recording in one way or another, including issues like one and two-party consent. No doubt the laws vary substantially, so it’s important to find out what the requirements are in your area. What might be allowed in one state might not be permitted at all, say here in California for example.

 

And there’s also the issue of disclosure. If your state requires it, a seller may need to visibly disclose that such equipment is in use or present, or at least that may be a recommendation. The CA listing agreement addresses this briefly, stating that buyers may not be aware they might be recorded by audio or visual devices the seller has installed (e.g., “nanny cams”) but sellers are advised – note, they are NOT required – to post a notice disclosing the presence of security devices.

 

It’s another challenge to be aware of, since we want, and need, to have dialogues with our buyer clients about what they like and don’t like about homes. Buyers typically have questions about properties they are touring that need answers, and comment about what they like, and don’t like (wouldn’t the sellers love to hear THAT conversation?). Of course we want to provide the best guidance we can and point out things they should be aware of.

 

But in our competitive market, when homes can disappear fairly quickly, buyers may, in their excitement, start talking about making an offer, and at a particular price, or might wonder out loud “how much do you think we should offer?”. As agents we want to get their feedback on the home.

 

That’s all well and good, but it’s not information you want to share with a seller, much as they might love to hear it!

 

Rather than risk sharing information that could jeopardize the buyer’s ability to negotiate, should they decide to do so, better keep in mind that silence is golden. Just because the state law may govern what a homeowner can and cannot do, and the need to disclose, does not mean they will.

 

It’s obviously a complex issue that will only get more complicated as laws changes, MLSs impose regulations, and court cases test the existing laws, and possible lawsuits between buyers and sellers, and potentially agents.

 

Here’s what NAR has to say (note it’s from 2016).

 

Any advice or experiences you care to share?

 

close

Re-Blogged 10 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Barbara Todaro 11/16/2018 03:03 AM
  2. Joyce Marsh 11/16/2018 04:41 AM
  3. Roy Kelley 01/31/2019 01:00 AM
  4. Ginger Harper 11/16/2018 08:32 AM
  5. Fred Griffin presently on Leave of Absence 11/16/2018 11:47 AM
  6. Margaret Goss 11/16/2018 12:51 PM
  7. Eva B. Liland with Century 21 Doug Anderson 11/21/2018 03:14 PM
  8. Debbie Reynolds 11/30/2018 04:00 AM
  9. Valeria Mola 12/02/2018 08:52 PM
  10. Gabe Sanders 12/03/2018 09:00 PM
Topic:
Real Estate Best Practices
Groups:
Certified Residential Specialists
SAN DIEGO Real Estate Agents & Loan Officers
Adventures in Real Estate
San Diego Realtors®
Tags:
smart technology
audio and video recording

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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
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Pam Crawford 

Well you just don't know so it's better to be safe than sorry. I suspect sellers don't even think about it and perhaps see nothing wrong with it. And recording devices and cameras might not be obvious.

Jeff

Nov 22, 2018 02:43 PM #90
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
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Michael Jacobs  - great point!

Steffy Hristova  - it's becoming more and more common but I bet many buyers, and perhaps their agents, don't think about the risks without being reminded.

Jeff

Nov 22, 2018 02:45 PM #91
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
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Hi Amanda S. Davidson 

A video is a great way to get the message out to buyers so they are prepared. No doubt it's hard to not have conversations when touring, especially when you are excited about the house.

Jeff

Nov 22, 2018 02:50 PM #92
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
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Hi faye schubert  we are, indeed, in a new world.

Carla Harbert I haven't run across that myself, although it's certainly possible I missed them. I have yet to see a notice posted that there are recording devices, etc. in a home.

Jeff

Nov 22, 2018 03:07 PM #93
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
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Hi Grant Schneider  We are seeing more and more of these devices.

Hope you are enjoying seeing the snow from your Florida house. Sounds ugly, and COLD, back east these days.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Jeff

Nov 22, 2018 03:09 PM #94
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
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Hi Sheila Anderson 

That did not occur to me when I came up with the title, but it really would work both ways. Great idea for another post!

Jeff

Nov 22, 2018 03:10 PM #95
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
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Lynda White  - texting is a great idea, or simply have further discussion once you have left.

Robert Rauf  - seems like you and Sheila had the same thought. Either way, being quiet makes sense.

Jeff

Nov 22, 2018 03:16 PM #96
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
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Laura Filip It's definitely something we all need to be aware of. As well as to guide our sellers.

Jeff

Nov 23, 2018 09:20 AM #97
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
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It's become a fact of life, hasn't it Rosalind Nicholas ?

Thank you Roy Kelley  It sounds like lots of people here are aware of these issues!

Jeff

Nov 23, 2018 09:21 AM #98
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
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Matt Brady I haven't experienced it myself but know others who have.

It's definitely becoming a bigger issue and my guess there is more recording and observing going on than we may be aware of Joe Pryor 

Jeff

Nov 23, 2018 09:25 AM #99
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
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Hi Ginger Harper I think the reminder is good for all of us!

Margaret Goss I think that's a great point. I have yet to see any disclosure, in writing, in a home I have visited. My bet is many will not see an issue with doing this.

Jeff

Nov 23, 2018 09:32 AM #100
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
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Thanks, Francine Viola 

It IS more challenging these days, and different from how we used to handle home tours with our clients. It's easy for excited buyers to talk about a house with us and if there is more than one in the party, with each other. We used to remind buyers to not talk in front of the listing agents, now it's not in the house in case of cameras and recording equipment.

Jeff

Nov 23, 2018 09:37 AM #101
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
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Hi Richie Alan Naggar 

What can you do? Probably nothing except be aware. We are often on cameras when shopping, and walking down the streets in some areas.

Jeff

Nov 23, 2018 09:38 AM #102
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Ricardo Mello
Manhattan Miami Real Estate - Manhattan, NY
Manhattan & Miami Real Estate Agent

Interesting point!

Nov 24, 2018 11:54 AM #103
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Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

Great Blog Post Jeff Dowler, CRS 

With technology these days, one must be careful. In MA it is illegal to record audio w/o all parties being informed and in agreement

Nov 30, 2018 06:46 AM #104
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
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Thanks for stopping by Doug Dawes  It's definitely a slippery slope and I think we will have more issues with this in the future. CA is pretty strict about recording as well.

Jeff

Nov 30, 2018 08:47 PM #105
Rainmaker
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Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

Shhhhh...it absolutely IS with more "detection devices"used today.

Dec 04, 2018 06:46 AM #106
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Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA,

So glad that you got this attention on a great post - we should all be careful

Dec 15, 2018 06:27 AM #107
Rainer
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Thomas Maloney
Supercheap Storage South Brisbane - Sydney, AU

I personally disagree that silence is golden when it comes to selling houses. A realtor should be highlighting all the perks of that particular house that is being viewed in order for potential buyers to take notice. I tried selling my house on my own once and I was on a roll. I described every aspect of my house like it was a showroom and even brought the attention of the buyers to surrounding amenities. The idea is to let them be enticed with all the positive factors of that house and being silent most certainly would not help achieve that whether you are being recorded or not.

Dec 20, 2018 11:20 PM #108
Rainmaker
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Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Jeff Dowler, CRS - Great reminder to all of us.  Years ago, this was more prevalent in luxury homes only but now, any home may have this tech. 

Jan 31, 2019 06:19 AM #109
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