Nearly a third of homesellers in a recent survey said they have used hidden cameras during showings. In some cases, it’s to spy on their own agents.

While a small number of these sellers said they always leave their cameras on for security reasons, others admitted to using hidden cameras to get a better idea of what buyers thought about their home, and even what their own agents were saying about their properties, according to a survey conducted by LendingTree.

Nearly half of snooping sellers said they used hidden cameras to discover what buyers do or don’t like about the home. In some cases, what they learned was later used against the buyer in negotiations. 

Perhaps more interestingly, nearly 1 in 4 sellers who used hidden cameras said they wanted to hear what their agent would say about the home when the seller wasn’t around.

These findings were part of an online survey of more than 2,000 participants in the home market. The survey was conducted in late June.

A significant share of sellers said they used cameras to ensure the security of their property during showings.

But even for these sellers, recording buyers may come with risks.

Many homebuyers are already on alert for cameras when they’re touring a home, and a large share aren’t thrilled about the idea of being recorded.

According to the survey, 44 percent of buyers said they wouldn’t go through with a purchase of their dream home if they learned the seller had surveilled them in secret. More than half of buyers described the practice as unfair.

Approximately 1 in 3 buyers said they suspect sellers of employing these cameras in secret — including 1 in 5 who said they spotted a camera inside the home. A similar number of buyers who worked with a real estate broker said their agent warned them they could be recorded during a showing.

The most common recording device found at a seller’s home these days is a doorbell camera, the survey said. But sellers also reported using security cameras and even video baby cameras and nanny cams to keep tabs on what’s going on during the showing.

In all, more than half of sellers said they had some kind of camera in place at home, even though not all of them were used to monitor a showing.

Email Daniel Houston

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