Real Estate Scam – The Surveillance Seller

Scam? Homeowners surveilling buyers? It’s not so much a scam, unless you consider it to be. Read on.

Pretend, for a moment, that you are looking for a new house with your wife and children. While at the showing, your Realtor gets an urgent call from the listing agent. He informs her that the sellers are watching the showing on camera, and they want to let you know that your kids need to be careful around their china cabinet...

Is this for real? Yes, it is, and it’s pretty creepy. It also raises some ethical and legal concerns. This has become a big issue in the real estate industry, and Realtors are now dealing with something that they have never had to worry about in the past.

Frankly, you should be watching your kids, and they should be careful around the China cabinet, and you should expect that cameras are on and always watching. But that’s just me. I don’t expect privacy when I leave my home. That’s why I protect my identity inside or outside the home, and I actually give up a little bit of privacy by having security cameras inside my home that I know are being monitored via the cloud at alarm central. Regardless, this is what’s happening right now. So you need to be aware of it.

In general, there are a number of laws out there that prohibit recording other people without their knowledge. However, these laws vary from one state to another, and what might be an issue in one state could be perfectly legal in another. On top of this, most Realtors are not aware of these laws. For example, some states only require that one person knows that the camera is on. Other states require than both parties are aware there is a camera. Yet other states require notices to be posted if there are cameras.

Most Realtors believe that they are obligated to let their clients know that there is recording equipment in a home, but at the same time, they might not be aware of it. Not only could this be illegal, but it could also cause some issues during the negotiation process, which is always a part of buying a home. Potential buyers, for example, might be in the home with their Realtor discussing making an offer, and the sellers could be listening in, which gives them the upper hand. There are some Realtors who even tell their clients that they won’t talk about anything until they are out of the house.

There are certainly sellers out there who believe that they have a total right to record people in their homes, and it’s very possible that they have that right. Again, as above, laws about this vary from state to state.

Keep in mind that we aren’t talking about traditional surveillance cameras here. These cameras are part of smart-homes, that people now use to keep an eye on things when they are gone. They have audio, high-quality video, and recording potential.

As these devices get more affordable, more and more homeowners are buying and installing them. So, if you are planning on buying or selling a home, make sure you talk to your Realtor about any cameras you may have or any cameras that might potentially be around a home you are looking at.


ROBERT SICILIANO CSP, is a #1 Best Selling Amazon author, CEO of, the architect of the CSI Protection certification; a Cyber Social and Identity and Personal Protection security awareness training program