Use of video surveillance during showings

The world is an ever-changing place as our expert Realtor, Deb Sarsany of the Deb Sarsany Team at The Real Estate Group, found to be true only last week when five of the nine houses she showed to buyers had surveillance. In this week’s Eighteen21 column she tackles the subject, which is somewhat of a hot topic in the industry. 

Surveillance of buyers when Realtors are showing homes is nothing new, but the prevalence, to me, was quite shocking. For one thing, it’s not uncommon for a Realtor and their buyers to talk strategy when it comes to making an offer on a home in that very home, which could be under surveillance. However, according to articles by Illinois REALTORS attorneys, in order for a seller to record the audio from a prospective buyer, the seller needs the buyer’s consent. On the other hand that surveillance laws in Illinois do not require the seller to have permission to video tape prospective buyers in their home unless in the bathroom etc., where there is an expectation of privacy.

Until March 20, 2014, Illinois had one of the most restrictive private person eavesdropping statutes in the country. The Illinois Supreme Court overturned the eavesdropping statute finding the statute was overbroad because it required the consent of all parties, even when there was no expectation that a conversation was private. A new eavesdropping statute will be announced soon and, according to Illinois REALTORS attorneys, will probably no longer require the consent of all parties to a conversation in all situations. Because we do not know for sure what the new statute will say best practices for Realtors and sellers, according to Illinois REALTORS attorneys, is to let potential buyers know that conversations may be picked up either by telling them directly or by posting a notice that audio devices in the property may record conversations. I discovered two of the five surveillances at sellers’ houses when touring the properties with my buyers, through notes on the MLS sheets. This alerted us to look for devices in other homes we viewed that day. As a Realtor, whatever your views on the matter, it’s best to remain aware of changes in the law and how these may affect the way in which you show houses in the future. If you’re a seller, my advice would be to disclose the presence of any surveillance equipment in your home to your Realtor. If you’re a buyer this is definitely something to be aware of and make adjustments for when discussing offers etc. with your Realtor. 

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For more information about the Deb Sarsany Team at The Real Estate Group or call (217) 313-0580.