Everything from baby monitors and nanny cams to voice activated recorders and motion triggered camera systems. We are watched, tracked, listened to and spied upon everywhere we go. So what about houses you’re considering buying?
It may come as a surprise that some homeowners and agents employ these technologies to gain an upper hand in negotiations. I cannot comment on the legality using surveillance in a home. That is above our pay grade. However, I can tell you with certainty it is used. It is more widespread than most people (or agents) would care to admit.
Recently I was involved in a transaction where the “walls had ears”. Sounds paranoid, right?
Let me explain…..
My buyer and I toured a home and the buyer mentioned asking for three specific items to he’d consider putting in his offer. These three things were one specific lawn ornament (among many), a cabinet, and one specific appliance.
I did not mention any of these items to the listing agent. Nor did I even hint at it. It was not mentioned in our offer either. Nowhere did these items even come up.
The buyer placed an offer and we received a counteroffer. In the counteroffer, these three specific items were explicitly mentioned and excluded from the agreement. Nothing else in the house was even mentioned. None of the other statues, appliances, chandeliers, or furniture. Just these specific items. Coincidence? Not likely.
I have no physical evidence to prove the use of surveillance equipment. Nor am I accusing the other agent or seller of using surveillance measures. Unlike James Bond, I did not remove a dime sized radio transmitter from a lamp. But the evidence is fairly clear for anyone with common sense…..
Moral of the Story:
Don’t be naïve. Electronic surveillance is cheap, tiny and easy to obtain. When the stakes are high and thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars are on the line, the temptation to utilize this technology may become too much to resist for some people. Surveillance is one method some people use to get the upper hand.
Steps to avoid problems with surveillance:
- EXPECT IT! Expect to be recorded, watched or overheard.
- Do NOT talk price or terms in the house – EVER.
- Do NOT say “I LOVE THIS HOUSE!”
- Do NOT insult the home, seller or sellers taste in décor.
- Never talk strategy in the home.
The best way to deal with this is to tour the home and ask questions, but leave your comments and any pricing discussions for somewhere else. (Preferably curbside or better yet, somewhere off premises)
REMEMBER: Surveillance is cheap. The results can be expensive. It’s your money at stake. Choose your words wisely.