Warning to Home Buyers and Real Estate Agents – Smart Devices May Be Listening
Be careful what you say when you’re viewing a home or on a real estate tour of homes. You might be being recorded. Yep, between smart homes, home security, Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant, you’re probably being eavesdropped on. Maybe as a simple side effect of having these devices in the home, and sometimes homeowners are actually spying on you to see what you say about their home.
O.K. – Here’s the deal. We are now warning our buyer clients to be very, very careful what they say while viewing a house for sale. There are an ever-increasing number of houses that are “bugged” by their owners with a security system, or “smart home” set-up that records anything while the owners are away, or even while they are there if they program it to.
That means anything you say could be used against you at the negotiation table if you were to decide to put an offer on the home. And complete strangers may discover personal or private information that you share with your spouse, partner, or Realtor. To us, that ranks high on the creepy factor.
It has become such an issue, the C.A.R. (California Association of Realtors) has included an advisory in the listing agreement warning sellers it would be a good idea to post a disclosure about the existence of such devices on the property. That does not mean the seller actually admits to it or does it though. We hope sellers are willing to disclose the existence of listening devices in their homes, but cannot compel them to. We can see the day coming though when it will be a requirement after there have been enough lawsuits.
Here is what the advisory says:
Persons visiting the Property may not be aware that they could be recorded by audio or visual devices installed by Seller (such as “nanny cams” and hidden security cameras). Seller is advised to post notice disclosing the existence of security devices.
Even the homeowner might not be aware that they have devices that are listening. There are all kinds of ‘connected devices‘ these days, gadgets, ovens/stoves, refrigerators to name a few. Do you even know what information is being stored or reported? I hate to go all 1984 on you, but Big Brother is watching. 😉 Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg routinely covers his webcam with tape, as does our own Director of the FBI.
So now that you’re completely creeped out, what should you do? Well, we suggest you pay more attention to the electronic devices in your home for starters. Know what you have that might be listening or watching, see if you can adjust the settings for when you are and are not recording or sharing information with the manufacturer.
Second, when you are in someone else’s home, whether you are looking for a home for sale, or just visiting friends, know that something may be listening to you.
Her bathroom towels are SO ugly…
Oh, and please put some tape over your webcam.