Privacy issue: be careful who’s watching and listening

A couple weeks ago the Oklahoma Real Estate Commission gave an industry update on a growing privacy concern. There is growing likelihood of sellers using hidden cameras to record buyers and real estate agents as they view their homes. They are becoming so inexpensive and still very sophisticated that their use is on a rapid rise.

blink home security cameraI’ve maintained that our privacy is in question more than we know, so we should always assume we’re being recorded when entering someone else’s property. There’s always the possibility of your unintentionally disclosing how much you’d be willing to pay for their house or some other confidential position.

Information the seller gets from your conversations could give them an advantage during negotiations should you make an offer on their property.

The commission states:

man looking at home security cameras on tablet computerOklahoma’s statute regarding electronic recordings only requires ‘one-party consent” to the recording. “One-party consent” means one of the parties being recorded has to give consent and does not have to notify the other party (or parties) that the conversation is being recorded. In theory, if a conversation has been recorded by the seller without the knowledge of either party involved in the conversation, the seller may be criminally prosecuted.  However, it would be up to the district attorney to prosecute a seller for having a camera in their home that recorded conversations between two or more buyers or between a buyer and his broker.  Additionally, the buyer could potentially sue civilly for monetary damages.  The issue would be whether the buyers had a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in their conversations in the home, which would be a question for the court or jury.  Currently there is no case law in Oklahoma addressing this scenario.

Below is a short video I recorded on this topic a few months ago. I also talk about the potential problems created by selling agents giving buyer feedback to sellers from their showings. This is something you want to be sure you’re protected from as well. I’m happy to give you more in depth information on these topics.

First of all, I always advise you have a Buyer Broker Service Agreement with your agent that gives you a broker-client relationship. This ensures you’re receiving the highest level of client advocacy. And then you should only discuss confidential matters with your agent outside any homes you’re viewing.

If you want to talk further about these privacy issues or anything else, just give me a call!

Note: when I recorded this video, I referenced a former broker. As of September 1, 2020, my current affiliation is with NextHome Central Real Estate, Oklahoma City, OK.