Silence is Golden When Showing Homes to Buyers

Managing Real Estate Broker with Platinum Properties- (931)771-9070 TN Broker: 208698

At the NAR Convention this subject was talked about a lot. Disclosure was the buzz word.

Original content by Jeff Dowler, CRS CA DRE #01490977

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?



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Comments (22)

Sham Reddy CRS
Howard Hanna RE Services, Dayton, OH - Dayton, OH

There should be a full disclosure if such an equipment is present on the premises!!!

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.

Nov 30, 2018 04:07 AM
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of the Manchester NH's area Leading Agents

A great reblog, it is happening almost daily and a talk i have with my buyers and now even my sellers Debbie Reynolds 

Nov 30, 2018 04:44 AM
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Debbie. I read this one when first published and it is a great choice for a re-blog.

Nov 30, 2018 05:22 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good morning Debbie - I saw Jeff's post.  It is certainly a new normal for buyers to know this.  

Nov 30, 2018 05:45 AM
Amanda S. Davidson
Amanda Davidson Real Estate Group Brokered By eXp Realty - Alexandria, VA
Alexandria Virginia Homes For Sale

Debbie, this was such a great post from Jeff. Very timely information and something we have to talk with our buyers about. 

Nov 30, 2018 05:54 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Debbie. Jeff makes some great points. Technology makes communication more difficult during a showing. Enjoy your day!

Nov 30, 2018 06:16 AM
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Happily Retired - Franklin, MA
Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team

Good choice for a reblog, Debbie Reynolds and an important post for those who missed the original.... 

Nov 30, 2018 06:26 AM
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Evolution - 447 Boston Street Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

I agree with the others Debbie Reynolds 

Very good blog to reblog

Nov 30, 2018 06:40 AM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

Great choice for a reblog, I recall reading this when Jeff first published it after the convention.

Nov 30, 2018 06:42 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Debbie, we are seeing more and more SMART technology in homes we show, and always best to limit conversation until you get back in the car.

Nov 30, 2018 06:49 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

This is a very important topic, Debbie. Agents and their clients need to be very careful with their remarks when viewing homes.

Nov 30, 2018 08:49 AM
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Debbie Jeff makes great points in this blog.  In this day and age you cannot be to careful.

Nov 30, 2018 01:33 PM
Abby Stiller
SW Florida (239) 284-8637

This is a great post from Jeff Debbie Reynolds and a good reminder to all of us that work with buyers to be always careful on the conversations we have with them. Have a fantastic week!

Dec 10, 2018 10:55 AM
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

It pays to be paying attention, and also to keep in mind that there are always eyes and ears where you least expect them.

Dec 21, 2018 11:29 PM

IDM Serial Key
repelis plus
Funny wifi names

Dec 22, 2018 01:09 AM
Scott Neasham
RE/MAX Concepts - Newton, IA
REALTOR & Home Listing Specialist in Newton, IA

Good advice! I'm always telling my buyers to try and keep major comments to themselves until we get a chance to talk outside the home.  In today's world, we should always assume we're being watched or recorded when in someone elses home showing it. "Loose lips sink ships"

Dec 29, 2018 05:14 AM
Frank Rubi
Frank Rubi Real Estate, LLC - Metairie, LA

I agree with clients need to be aware that everything is under surveillance.  

Dec 29, 2018 06:12 AM
Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro

Debbie, this is a conversation that agents are having with buyers more and more. In VA, listing agents are required to disclose recording equipment in their listing write-up. I think that's a good idea. Happy New Year!

Dec 29, 2018 05:18 PM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Great post.  I would bet you've provided an Aha! moment to several readers.  

Feb 25, 2019 10:49 AM