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Nearly 1 in 3 home sellers say they secretly use hidden cameras during showings to hear what buyers and real estate agents are saying, a survey says

Business Insider logo Business Insider 8/1/2021 sjackson@insider.com (Sarah Jackson)
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  • Nearly 1 in 3 home sellers admits to using hidden cameras during showings, a new survey says.
  • The top reason was finding out what buyers do or don't like about the home so they can make changes.
  • Others include gaining info for negotiations and seeing how real estate agents describe their home.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Nearly 1 in 3 home sellers admit to secretly recording home buyers during showings, a new survey found.

Thirty percent of sellers said they have hidden cameras in use when buyers tour their homes, according to the survey, which was commissioned by LendingTree.

The survey polled just over 2,000 US consumers, of whom 347 were home sellers and 1,160 were home buyers.

Of these sellers, 49% say they use the cameras to find out what buyers do or don't like about their home, making this the top reason cited for camera use. Meanwhile, 36% of the sellers who use cameras do so in order to gather information that would be useful during negotiations. Thirty-one percent have cameras in place to make sure their home is safe during showings, and 23% rely on cameras to find out what their real estate agent is saying about their home.

Ten percent of the sellers who use cameras say they just always have the cameras on for security reasons. Home sellers were able to choose multiple reasons in the survey.

Male home sellers were more likely than female ones to use hidden cameras: Thirty-six percent of men selling homes had spy cams, compared to 23% of women selling homes, the survey found.

Meanwhile, buyers have picked up on the possibility that they're being watched. Nearly one-third of them have suspected hidden cameras were in use during home tours, with 19% saying they saw one inside the home, and 13% saying they didn't spot a camera but suspect one was there. Buyers in the Northeast were most likely to suspect hidden cameras were in play, while those in the Midwest were least concerned, LendingTree found.

While some sellers think the cameras could help them strike a deal for their home, consumers say it could have the opposite effect. Forty-four percent of the survey's respondents said they would no longer buy their dream home if they found out the seller recorded them during the tour to hear their thoughts on the listing. In addition, 56% said it's unfair and an invasion of privacy for sellers to use hidden cameras to eavesdrop during showings.

Despite their concerns, 32% of consumers say they'd nonetheless consider using hidden cameras for their own home-selling processes in the future.

Read more: Hackers keep digitally breaking into people's homes and spying on them through popular Amazon doorbell device Ring. And experts say the hacks are likely to continue.

Real estate agents too have their qualms about surveillance. More than a quarter of buyers who worked with an agent say their agent warned them that hidden cameras could be used when they toured the property, according to the survey.

Between surveillance concerns and the current conditions of the housing market, buyers may be stuck between a rock and a hard place. In April, US home prices rose at their fastest rate in three decades. A combination of high demand and low supply, as home builders struggle to keep pace, has economists urging potential home buyers to wait until 2022 to make their purchases.

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