There have been several articles in the media recently that indicate an increasing number of sellers are spying on home buyers at showings to gain an advantage when negotiating the terms of the home sale.
This practice has become so prevalent that some real estate agents are advising their home buyers to be careful about what they say and do when looking at a home. In other words, they should just assume that the seller is watching and listening and act accordingly.
In a recent NerdWallet survey, about 15% of those in the U.S. who’ve ever sold a home said they used surveillance equipment to spy on potential home buyers while in their homes. But close to 70% said they would use surveillance equipment if it already existed in the home.
What’s the Reason Sellers Spy on Home Buyers?
Many homes today are already equipped with Wi-Fi enabled cameras and microphones making spying on home buyers very tempting for sellers of these homes, according to a recent article in USA Today. It said that more than nine million homes in the nation are already equipped with these devices today, with that number expected to increase to 50 million by the year 2022.
Even if homes aren’t already equipped with such equipment, tiny microphones and video cameras – that can easily be hidden or that look like objects that might ordinary be in plain sight – are more available now than in the past. They are not only very affordable but can be purchased discreetly on the Internet and set up in a matter of minutes.
Such devices allow sellers to record what’s happening or to watch live on their laptops or mobile devices as potential home buyers walk through their homes.
What Do Sellers Gain from Snooping?
Sellers gain a wide range of information about buyers by watching them as they walk through their homes – ranging from valuable feedback about what potential buyers like and don’t like about the home to how badly a buyer wants the home. The latter, of course, can be used to the seller’s advantage to negotiate for a higher asking price.
Some sellers, who have a real emotional attachment to their homes, also reportedly use surveillance to find out whether or not a potential buyer is “worthy” to live in their homes. But according to an article published on, spying for this purpose borders on housing discrimination or could be considered housing discrimination because, based on law, sellers aren’t allowed to discriminate in the U.S. based on factors like race or religion.
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