How Your Home’s Security Features Could Make You a Felon When You Sell

As homes become smarter, home buyers are increasingly finding there’s an extra set of eyes and ears on them as they tour properties for sale. In a 21st-century version of the “nanny cam,” home shoppers face everything from old-fashioned security cameras to newer devices tracking their conversations and actions. The rise of these wired home sellers is raising fresh concerns about privacy, courtesy and legality in a transaction that’s already fraught with emotion and potentially full of pitfalls.

Features such as Ring doorbell, Arlo Camera and Nest Security Systems, Google or Alexa devices, etc have become ubiquitous, and staples in today’s Smart Homes. These systems allow us to secure and monitor our homes, families, and pets even when we’re away from the house, and make us feel safe.

But did you know your nanny cam and other monitoring devices can get you in serious legal trouble when you sell your home?

The Issue with Surveillance Cameras When You List

While you may feel that it’s your home, and you have the right to do whatever you want as it relates to monitoring your home during showings and open houses. Or with lower levels of service and a lack of buyer feedback which has come with the rise of discount real estate brokerages, you’re entitled to monitor the traffic through your home… you would think.

According to Ohio Law you can video record people in public places, even in your house, IF they would reasonably expect to be on camera.

However, you can only record an audio conversation if at least one person in the conversation gives you permission. (Ohio Revised Code 2933.52)

A violation of this statute is a 4th degree felony.

Do You Need to Turn Off Your Devices?

When you list your home with The Opland Group, we will discuss the use of video surveillance equipment during showings and open houses.

You can of course simply turn off these devices, however, this may be cumbersome if the cameras are used in combination with your home’s security system.

Another option is to disclose the use of video cameras. We include this disclosure with your listing in the MLS. You should also put a note on the front door, or in the foyer notifying visitors that they may be recorded during a showing or an open house.

But you absolutely CANNOT record the audio without written consent of the buyer or agent visiting your home.

Our Advice for Buyers

Always assume that your visit and conversations are being recorded when you look at a listing, and during all showing appointments.

While we will certainly let you know if the seller has disclosed any surveillance equipment in the MLS before visiting a listing, the simple fact is most agents are not aware that these disclosures are required. If they request written consent for audio recordings you will need to sign it before we view the house but again if the agent isn’t aware they are required to collect this consent, or that their sellers are listening to and recording these conversations neither will you.

Not all listings disclose surveillance cameras or the use of Alexa devices. The seller may eavesdrop on you. So, we will NOT discuss your opinion of the home, level of interest, or a possible offer while we are inside the house.

Have any real estate questions? We can help! Call or text me TODAY at (614) 332-6984.