Buyers curb your enthusiasm and be aware, some walls have ears!

Real Estate Agent with Thompson Company, REALTORS® MD594797

Towards the end of a transaction not too long ago, my buyers and I met with the seller of the property for the final walk-through. It was a bit unusual to meet with Mr. Seller prior to settlement, but not completely unheard of, plus he he had offered to tell the buyers all about the house. Since this house came with a lot of extras, and technology, and a pool, and outdoor lighting and.. my buyers gladly took him up on his offer. 

Mr. Seller provided a ton of helpful information to my clients, how to operate this, how to control that, who to call for maintenance, landscaping, cleaning ... but then he made one remark that he probably had no intention of making: I had to laugh when I watched you all trying to figure that one out. 

Wait. WHAT? You watched us? You listened in? You spied on us? But that's illegal! 

Needless to say, we were stunned. And mad. And uncomfortable. 

Mr. Seller quickly realized what had just slipped out of his mouth. Sensing our discomfort and probably noticing the shock on our faces, he added that this was the only thing he overheard us discussing. 

The thing is ... please note, this does not constitute legal advice whatsoever, I am not a lawyer. If you need legal counsel, please consult an attorney and don't rely on my little anecdotal blog post ... while it is legal to record surveillance video in your home, it is against the law to record audio without the knowledge and consent of the people being recorded* (*in the State of Maryland). Period

Mr. Seller should have disconnected and disabled audio recording in his home prior to putting it on the market. He should also have made a disclosure to all prospective buyers entering his property that there's active video surveillance (when in doubt, always disclose .. this is such a gray area). 

I do not believe for a minute that Mr. Seller only listened in during that one little incident. Can I prove it? No. Do I have the time and energy to pursue this? Also no. And my buyers weren't up to a lengthy battle either. 

However, other buyers may feel so violated (rightly so) that they would/will take action.

Dear Sellers, as tempting as it may be, don't listen in while prospective buyers tour your property and/or follow a home inspector along. I understand the need for a security system. I really do. But when your house is on the market and while it's under contract, it's best to disclose any video surveillance and to disable audio. Please don't spy. 

Dear Buyers, please be aware. REALTORS® do advice their seller clients about the MD law concerning audio recordings - it is a paragraph in our listing agreements - but we have no control over what sellers do with that notice/warning. Try to curb your enthusiasm while touring homes. Expect the walls to have ears. Wait to have a discussion until you and your agent have left the property. 

It's not easy, I understand. Especially when you have found the one. But it's your best bet to protect your best interest and to not compromise your negotiation power. 

Audio recording while listing your home for sale.

Posted by







Thompson Company, REALTORS
16910 Oak Hill Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20905
o: (301) 384-9177 c: (240)593-2860

Andrea is a REALTOR® based in Silver Spring, MD. She has enjoyed assisting buyers and sellers since 2004 and focuses on residential Real Estate in  Montgomery and Howard County, MD. Andrea is a proud mom and hobby decorator with a vintage soul. She always answers the phone with a smile, enjoys running and treasure hunting and is addicted to coffee.


 All photographs are my own and I'd like to keep it that way. All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.




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video surveillance while selling a house
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Lauren Williams, CPO
Casual Uncluttering LLC - Woodinville, WA
Professional Organizer: Puget Sound homes

Andrea Bedard WOW. Stunning lack of manners. Sorry for you and your clients. Wonder if the seller truly didn't know he was violating the law, or just didn't care, or actually enjoyed it. Ugh no matter what.

Jul 11, 2019 06:31 PM #1
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

HI Andrea- I would have been mortified were I the buyer or buyer's agent.  It is so important for listing agents to remind their sellers of local laws and for buyer's agents to remind them to hold off on any comments until they are away from the house. 

Jul 11, 2019 07:29 PM #2
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Hello Andrea... we had a huge lawsuit here in NC when a buyer sued a seller claiming his negotiating posture had been compromised when not notified in advance that he and his agent were being watched and recorded. And he won.

Jul 12, 2019 05:33 AM #3
Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

I find in occupied homes that this often could be the case, as I see cameras up, but don't know if they are on and recording or not.  I think OpenDoor and outfits like that put security cameras up throughout their listings.  When I think this is happening, I don't mind out all allowing my clients to bad mouth a home when it deserves it, haha.  That way the seller gets pure feedback and hopefully, they make corrections or if their feelings are hurt by the truth, it is their own fault for spying when they aren't supposed to be, haha.

Jul 12, 2019 07:39 AM #4
Andrea Bedard
Thompson Company, REALTORS® - Silver Spring, MD
M.A.; REALTOR® Silver Spring, MD and beyond

He probably had no idea Lauren Williams, CPO that this was against the law and poor taste, or he just didn't care. We actually wondered (out loud) while we were there if he was watching us.

After this incident, I spent extra time going over that little notice in our listing agreement with sellers Kathy Streib. It was a very uncomfortable situation but I didn't feel ashamed. We hadn't done anything wrong! 

Good for him Nina Hollander!

Jul 12, 2019 07:44 AM #5
Richard Bazinet /MBA, CRS, ABR
West USA Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Phoenix Scottsdale. Sellers, Buyers & Relocations

Very interesting, and a current topic. We talked about it, and yet we have not really done anything about it yet in Arizona. However, I do warn my buyer-clients.

Jul 12, 2019 04:46 PM #6
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224


                                            Thank you, Andrea. 

Jul 13, 2019 07:00 PM #7
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Andrea - your experience is a good reminder to buyers regardless of any advanced"warning" of surveillance of any type.  "Loose lips sink ships".  Gladly, this transaction resulted in a closed sale but imagine if certain things were different...

Jul 14, 2019 04:36 AM #8
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Franklin, MA
Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team

that puts "buyer beware" on a whole new level....and it applies to agents too....just be mindful, no matter what your state law reads.... not everyone complies....

Jul 14, 2019 05:08 AM #9
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Congrats on being featured by Kathy this week!  Great post!

Jul 14, 2019 06:56 AM #10
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

We are always careful to discuss the pros and cons of a property with our buyers, once we leave the premises. They know the drill ahead of time. 

Jul 14, 2019 07:09 AM #11
Alan Brown
Coldwell Banker Montrose Colorado - Montrose, CO
29 Years of Real Estate Experience .

Cameras and listening in is definitely on the rise, brings a whole meaning to the old saying "Buyer beware" 

Jul 14, 2019 11:37 AM #12
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I agree with Alan, This gives a whole modern meaning to the phrase "Buyer beware." Privacy is more and more a thing of the past.

Jul 14, 2019 11:54 AM #13
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

That's so interesting that your contract spells it out, even if it's probably routinely overlooked.

Jul 14, 2019 12:50 PM #14
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Andrea Bedard -  The laws vary state by state but at minimum disclose it.

Jul 14, 2019 03:24 PM #15
Rob D. Shepherd
Windermere/lane county - Florence, OR
Principal Broker GRI, SRES

I tell Buyers always assume we are being watched.

Jul 14, 2019 07:11 PM #16
Andrea Bedard
Thompson Company, REALTORS® - Silver Spring, MD
M.A.; REALTOR® Silver Spring, MD and beyond

If they do that, then I hope they disclose it Brian England ! I can count on one hand how many times I've seen a disclosure made by a seller that security cameras are in use. It is super uncomfortable when you feel like you are being watched.. not really a selling feature in my opinion. 

That's all we can do Richard Bazinet /MBA, CRS, ABR , warn our buyer clients. I tell mine to treat it like an Open House visit.. we wouldn't be discussing likes/dislikes in front of the other agent either. It's an interesting topic for sure! 

Thank you Kathy Streib!

 I am so glad, it ended well Michael Jacobs ! It could have turned out differently. This was a first for me, being told that we had been watched from afar during a home inspection .. and probably every other visit to the house as well. Not a good feeling! 

It's a whole new level Barbara Todaro, I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more about it. 

Jul 14, 2019 07:20 PM #17
Andrea Bedard
Thompson Company, REALTORS® - Silver Spring, MD
M.A.; REALTOR® Silver Spring, MD and beyond

Thank you Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®.

Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, this was during a home inspection.  I do advise my buyers, too, to wait until after our home tour to share their thoughts and comments with me, to act like we are at an open house. But we are not robots, there's always some interaction, communication.. that's what makes it all so special! I dread the thought of silent walk-throughs because we are all so afraid of who may be watching us. 

I agree Alan & Marte .. a whole new meaning. 

It's a newer addition to the listing agreement Jill Sackler, and I'm glad they added it!

I agree Grant Schneider - use of security cameras should be disclosed to anyone touring a home.  

Jul 14, 2019 07:21 PM #18
Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

So glad to see this featured by Kathy Streib 

I remember years ago being 'scolded' by my seller for a remark made by a buyer in his home. Yes, he had a sound system that he could listen in when he was outside walking the dog.

Glad that we have this verbiage in our listing contract...they now know!

Jul 14, 2019 07:28 PM #19
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

I showed a house recently, and afterwards, the agent asked me something that made me wonder whether someone had been listening in. We just never know who is listening - your advice is right on. Sellers need to disclose or turn it off, and buyers need to be aware.

Jul 15, 2019 03:47 AM #20
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Andrea Bedard

M.A.; REALTOR® Silver Spring, MD and beyond
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