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Home Buyer Beware: Big Brother is Watching

With the rise of affordable and subtle recording devices, the number of homes installed with security systems and other electronic recording mechanisms has also risen. According to Nielsen, nearly a quarter of U.S. households own a smart speaker like Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Home speaker, or Apple’s HomePod. Trade associations estimate that more than 15 percent of homeowners have security cameras installed in homes.

However, many buyers and sellers are unaware of how these devises can affect the sale and purchase of a property. You may unknowingly be including the other party in a conversation between you and your real estate agent during a walk-through!

Realtors are now coaching their clients not to speak while they are touring a property, lest their comments are recorded. In addition to compromising privacy, recorded conversations could give the seller a leg-up in negotiations.

The state of Florida has a “two-way consent law,” that prohibits most recordings unless both parties consent to be recorded. The law does not apply to some private settings, of course, but it is definitely a consideration when viewing properties. Depending on the circumstances, the seller could face felony or civil penalties with punitive damages!

Real estate boards, the Florida licensing board, and agents advise caution when discussing a property while on the premises. 

Agents may have to include a notice of recording device in their listings at some point in the future, but today, that is not the norm. So, buyer beware! Keep your comments minimal while touring a prospective property.

For guidance when navigating the real estate market, consult a real estate attorney and your real estate agent.