Buyer Advice: Keep Your Thoughts to Yourself


This past year was a big one for technology. It seems like everyone has the latest gadgets, from wireless doorbells, to talking towers and, yes, home camera and security systems. 
In the past, if you went into a listed property, you and your Realtor could walk around and freely Amazon Echodiscuss the merits of the property. With the widespread use of technology, you must now expect that you are being recorded, in some capacity. A paragraph has been added to our local listing form (Northern Virginia) that asks a seller to reveal whether or not they are recording activity in their home. There is also drop down on our on-line listing entry, under Security, that would allow us to indicate if there is 'Security Surveillance.' There is nothing, however, that mandates this disclosure. As a Buyer's Agent, I check for this information, but I can only know what has been disclosed.
A Best Practice, for both Realtors and Purchasers, is to assume that you are being recorded and behave accordingly.
Most Buyer's Agents will advise their buyers to 'keep their cards close' in a negotiation. Obviously, if the seller has access to your running commentary as you viewed their house, that advice means nothing. Of course, even if you put in a fair offer, your comments made during the showing could have irritated the seller, leading to a potentially hostile negotiation. Remember, selling a home is often an emotional sale.  Hearing that you don't LOVE their home, or that you plan to gut it, may not leave a seller feeling warmly toward your offer. 
It is a Brave New World out there Buyers! Remember that your words are not necessarily private if spoken within a listed property. Behave accordingly and you stand the best chance of landing your next home!




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Comment balloon 48 commentsHolly Weatherwax • January 03 2017 05:55PM


Holly, we do have to have this conversation with our buyers, as you never know what is being recorded.

Posted by Joan Cox, Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time (Metro Brokers - House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373) almost 2 years ago

Holly, this is interesting.

It's my understanding that if they have cameras recording your actiions, it's OK. But I think that federal laws prohibit the recording of conversations without permission of all parties.  Sellers have to be careful!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) almost 2 years ago

As you said: "A Best Practice, for both Realtors and Purchasers, is to assume that you are being recorded and behave accordingly.".. seems the best advice.  

Posted by Carol Williams, "Customized Mentoring & Marketing Services" (U.S.: I specialize in helping agents who have been in the business 2 years or less create a thriving business.) almost 2 years ago

I always have this talk with my buyers and have for years.  Nanny cams have been around a long time.  I had one.  I still have one (it's for watching my dogs when I'm away from home)

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) almost 2 years ago

Great advice, and best to assume someone is always watching and/or listening.

Posted by John Meussner, #MortgageMadeEasy Walnut Creek, CA 484-680-4852 (Mason-McDuffie Mortgage, Conventional Loans, Jumbo Loans, FHA, 203(k), USDA, VA,) almost 2 years ago

It certainly is a new world. This is definitely something we all need to be aware of and advise our clients accordingly.

Posted by Jane Peters, Connecting you to the L.A. real estate market (Home Jane Realty) almost 2 years ago

I always tell buyers to presume we're being recorded... and not to say much (good or bad) inside the house.

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) almost 2 years ago

I think the practice of recording in the home is going to continue to evolve. Did anyone else see that news story that your Amazon Echo or Google Home could be listening to/recording  you? For years, there has been talk of computer cameras unknowingly recording users (and many tech CEOs tape over their cameras for this reason).

Posted by Holly Weatherwax, A Great Real Estate Experience ( Associate Broker, Momentum Realty) almost 2 years ago

Always a good reminder - thanks. I do the same thing as Alan May - tell buyers to presume they're being recorded and talk accordingly.

Posted by Vickie Teel, It's all about YOU! (Allison James Estates & Homes) almost 2 years ago

I have never heard of this. When I was looking at houses 3 years ago, my real estate agent did not tell me anything about the possibility of being recoreded in the 11 homes we viewed. I wish he had now!

Posted by Karen Hellier, Freelance Writer for Professionals, North Georgia (Freelance Writer) almost 2 years ago


Thanks for the great reminder! Silence is golden---esp if planning to place an offer!

Posted by Sonja Patterson, Texas Monthly 5-Star Realtor Recipient for the Hou (Keller Williams - BV) almost 2 years ago

Excellent point!  I just sent a message to our Arizona Assoc of Realtors re this after reading your blog post.  Thanks!

Posted by Jan Green, HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN (Value Added Service, 602-620-2699) almost 2 years ago

I've been discussing this with my agents. The ability to record surreptitiously is increasingly common. I recommend keeping comments to a minimum, don't dig through their lingerie drawer, and wait until you've left the home to discuss making an offer!

Posted by Nathan Gesner, Broker / Property Manager (American West Realty and Management) almost 2 years ago

Is there such a thing as privacy any more? I'm not so sure!

Posted by Marte Cliff, Your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) almost 2 years ago

Great feature on a topic that's gaining more attention given the technology. And the laws vary from state to state about what is allowed or not, both audio and video, and whether someone should reasnably assume a recording might be in process. Better just to keep your mouths shut while touring since it may not be disclosed or obvious.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) almost 2 years ago

Excellent points.  More and more sellers have cameras and sometimes their location is not obvious.  So beware what you say!

Posted by Dorothy Liu, Broker Associate, Silicon Valley Area,650-492-0859 (Alain Pinel Realtors) almost 2 years ago

Dear Holly,

Very scary. It would be good to disclose that. The need for security has probably arisen from the 0.1% of agents & clients, who do not treat the homes they see with respect. Very sad too.

Posted by Dörte Engel, ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland (RE/MAX Leading Edge) almost 2 years ago is something that I haven't thought of.  Most of our inventory is staged and the house is vacant.  But I can see where sellers could really like having a camera on the house as we have had some robberies of the staged furniture.  Thanks for the heads up.


Posted by Ann Wilkins, Oakland, Berkeley, Piedmont CA (Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty) almost 2 years ago

I agree 100 per cent Holly you are preaching to the Choir here, thanks to Susan Haughton  reblog I am here, Endre

Posted by Endre Barath, Jr., Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002 (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices) almost 2 years ago

Great advice.  I hadn't really thought about it, but I will make sure to include this in my next pre-show meeting with buyers.

Posted by Anna Hatridge, Missouri Realtor with Goodson Realty (Goodson Realty) almost 2 years ago

You just never know!!!

It is a Brave New World out there Buyers! Remember that your words are not necessarily private if spoken within a listed property. Behave accordingly and you stand the best chance of landing your next home!

Posted by Sham Reddy, CRS (H E R Realty, Dayton, OH) almost 2 years ago

Good morning Holly Weatherwax ,

I'm so glad to see this post featured! You are so right..buyers beware it is a new age of technology so keeps your cards tucked close to your vest when viewing properties.

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799) almost 2 years ago

I am from a generation that you didn't need to lock your front door. Oh for the good old days...

Posted by Raul Rodriguez, Looking out for the client's interest and not my p (Covenant Partners Realty) almost 2 years ago

It's always good to have this reminder. Agree with what Patricia Kennedy said. Not sure if this varies with state law but in my state all parties must be informed. Great reminder. Thanks!

Posted by Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty, 601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell (Front Gate Real Estate) almost 2 years ago

Oh yes, a big, big issue in my market as well. I wrote about this subject when our MLS said we should be notifying buyers and their agents in advance that a home might be under surveillance... this after a lawsuit where a buyer won a case saying his negotiating position had been compromised because he had no idea his comments were being recorded.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage | Charlotte, NC) almost 2 years ago

I never even thought of this possibility.  Thanks ARS for bringing me into the 21st Century.

Posted by Ginger Harper, Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County! (Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage) almost 2 years ago

I guess one thing that the comments point out is being familiar with the recording and surveillance  laws in your state.

Posted by Holly Weatherwax, A Great Real Estate Experience ( Associate Broker, Momentum Realty) almost 2 years ago

Big Brother technology is in every home these days. It is best to discuss the home in the car or over coffee.

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (Real Estate and Beyond, LLC) almost 2 years ago

This is great.  I really had not considered this until the other day I read about a 6 year old that accidentally ordered some expensive items on Amazon via Alexa.  I will definitely keep this in mind and make good use of this information.

Posted by Charita Cadenhead, Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama) (Keller Williams Realty) almost 2 years ago

Excellent reminder. Congratulations on the feature!

Posted by Kim Gaston, Colorado Springs REALTOR®, CNE (719)661-6987 (FRONT PORCH TEAM REAL ESTATE & PROPERTY STYLING - Brokerage, Colorado Real Estate Advisers LLC) almost 2 years ago

Good morning Holly. This is brilliant and very important. I have also found it pays not to be judgemental as a buyers agent. You can lose a buyer quickly by voicing your opinion.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) almost 2 years ago

Like speeding, nothing to worry about if you are not. Professional agents, mum's the word buyers with poker faces. Got it.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) almost 2 years ago

Great post, Holly!  Definitely another thing for Buyers and Agents to consider when they visit a listing.  Best to play it safe!  Thanks for bringing up this topic.

Posted by Mike Bjork (American Pacific Mortgage) almost 2 years ago

Great post! You must always be on guard when in a house with clients, especially more so now with technology.

Posted by Charlie Harrison, Are you ready to buy or sell today? (The Bluefield Group) almost 2 years ago

I had a seller use a recording device last year - no sound though.  The eventual buyers were very upset about it - but he really only had it set up for security.  

Posted by Margaret Goss, Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate (Baird & Warner Real Estate) almost 2 years ago

The internet of things is real and is definitely something we should keep track of in the future. Great post!

Posted by Brivity Platform, Manage. Market. Communicate. Convert. Get leads (Brivity) almost 2 years ago

Hi Holly, scary but it could happen. It's a conversation buyer's agents should have with their buyers.

Posted by Beth Atalay, Cam Realty of Clermont FL (Cam Realty and Property Management) almost 2 years ago

Recording devices are as small as the head of a nail now a days...

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) almost 2 years ago

Great reminder, and now with all these Amazon and Google things, who knows if they are picking this up!  

Posted by Francine Viola, In Tune with your Real Estate Needs - Olympia WA (Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty, Olympia WA) almost 2 years ago

My buyer clients are advised to say nothing while in the home ... and not anything outside the home.  We wait until we are safely back in my car before discussing.  

Posted by Kathleen Daniels, San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist (KD Realty - 408.972.1822) almost 2 years ago

Showed a property the other day. The buyer and I texted while inside. Made for good notes for that particular property and included some photos.  To think I fought txting in the beginning: my best notepad.

Posted by Theresa Akin (CORPUS CHRISTI REALTY GROUP) almost 2 years ago

I was thinking the same thing as I watched all those commercials for Echo and Alexa etc.  It's a bit creepy and this is a good reminder to be aware: conversations may be recorded!

Posted by Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR, Experience Agent in Kansas City Metro area (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes) almost 2 years ago

You are absolutely right! Buyers and their agents need to ZIP it until you are away from the property.

Posted by Joni Bailey, Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTOR® (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Anderson Properties) almost 2 years ago

You are correct. We have to assume we are being recorded while in homes.

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, almost 2 years ago

Great Reminder! Thanks for the post and I'll we more aware in 2017.

Posted by Anne Corbin, Serving Lake Anna & Central Virginia (Fritz Realty LLC) almost 2 years ago

I've been tempted the bring duct tape for the buyers.  Sometimes they spew an opinion that is off the wall.  Especially people who think that they know what they are looking at, and they don't.  

Posted by Mary Jo Quay (Remax Results) almost 2 years ago

Let alone Siri, Cortana, and Goggle Ok & Home... Great post Holly Weatherwax !!

Posted by Rene Fabre, Marketing in the Digital Age (First American Title) almost 2 years ago

Whether good or bad comments, agents and clients need to keep their mouths shut during showings and talk afterwards in private.

Posted by Michelle Carr-Crowe Just Call 408-252-8900 Top 1%!, Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years (Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty) almost 2 years ago

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