It’s been industry practice, although one not always adhered to, for buyer agents to provide feedback on a listing after touring it with an interested buyer. Smart home monitoring devices may creep into ethics violations if used to secretly glean knowledge. If we’re always compromising privacy for information, where does that leave us?

  • When it comes to marketing to property owners, is privacy no longer respected?
  • Our mobile device habits could easily push us toward the edge of business ethics as a buyer walks around our home.

Have suggestions for products that you’d like to see reviewed by our real estate technology expert? Email Craig Rowe.

Last week I wrote a column about Map Kitchen, a website metrics tool that can collect the physical address from which a person is browsing your website.

A few months ago I looked at Inquiso, a property investigation tool investors and agents can use to determine and contact even the most secretive of owners.

When it comes to marketing to property owners, is privacy no longer respected?

Making compromises for data lust

It’s been industry practice, although one not always adhered to, for buyer agents to provide feedback on a listing after touring it with an interested buyer.

A few websites are pushing to make this practice much more public-facing.

I wonder: Is it only a matter of time before listing agents or the home’s seller monitor the showing as it happens?

The reason buyers and sellers don’t occupy the same space during showings is to prevent the exchange of privileged information. This is a very common practice for opposing sides in most forms of business transaction.

When we combine our deep lust for data, our ever-blossoming propensity to eschew personal privacy for the satisfaction of amassing crowd-sourced icons of approval and the onset of smart home monitoring, I believe the result is the potential for massive breaches of fiduciary accountability.

When does ‘smart’ become an obsession?

The most basic home security system today allows for visual monitoring from afar. Everything from garage door openings to changes in room temperature can be tracked.

Smart appliances let us know when a refrigerator door is left ajar or the stove has been left on.

My editor sent me an IndieGoGo campaign for this cool guy, Riley.

Riley is a diminutive, Pixar-inspired tank with a Wi-Fi camera and rubber tracks so it can buzz through the thickest of shag carpets in its mission to record the happenings in your home while you’re at work.

Or, maybe someone would want to turn on Riley when they’re at Starbucks waiting for the showing to end.

While that’s a somewhat fringe example given Riley’s overt physical presence, it nonetheless clearly demonstrates that we’re becoming a culture obsessed with what’s going on in our home while we’re away.

Our mobile device habits could easily push us toward the edge of business ethics as a buyer walks around our home.

Most of us never thought we’d have a need to check our email on a 4.5-inch monitor — but yet, here we are. Every five minutes, like a petrified new parent with a baby monitor.

Or like almost every parent with knowledge of how the GPS works on their child’s phone.

Our mobile device habits, as physical as they are psychological, could easily push us toward the edge of business ethics as buyers walk around our home.

“What did they just say? Why are they opening that cabinet? They spent 30 seconds in the kitchen — that’s it?! My agent told me to install that backsplash!”

Listing agents nationwide can attest to the emotional distress some clients feel about the pace of their home sale. Is it so hard to believe a smart home monitoring device would be leveraged to glean immediate feedback?

What our habits now might mean for the future

It may not be happening yet, but I contest instances of seller monitoring are not far from being made public.

Privacy is slowly dying, and with every app’s and device’s terms and conditions we agree to, we tighten our grip on its air supply.

Furthermore, what are the ethical boundaries being crossed by sellers who do it without their listing agent’s knowledge?

What would you do if they shared with you what they learned?

You gotta love technology.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe.

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