As you come out of hibernation from our Northern Virginia winter and start touring open houses, here is some advice you may not have had to consider for your last home purchase...keep your excitement level to yourself.
As more homes are being built, and upgraded, to be Wi-Fi enabled, they are being equipped with surveillance devices. And while the initial intent of these is for security purposes more home sellers are taking advantage of the devices to ‘spy’ on their potential buyers.
This is not a completely new strategy, though in the past sellers were limited to a single nanny-cam perched on a shelf. Now with the prevalence of smart devices a single home can have multiple recording devices throughout the house, inside and out. It is estimated that 11 million homes are currently wi-fi enabled, internally or externally, and by 2020 that number is expected to grow to 50 million.
The legality of this practice varies by state, so not everyone would record their showings, but in a Harris poll conducted for NerdWallet last year 15% of home sellers admitted to recording their open houses. And 67% said they would record if their homes were equipped with recording devices.
Why should you worry about being recorded?
Many people find the practice disturbing, or creepy, but don’t understand how being recorded can play against their interest. And while that may have once been the case, with most recording being done to help sell a struggling property, it has morphed into a powerful bargaining tool. Sellers can watch their recordings and if they see your excitement level they can use that against you with any counter offers. Or, they can view the overall excitement for the home and use that in a bidding war.
When viewing a home it is best to keep your discussions to a minimum until you are away from the property, and prying ears.
Away from the property, and off social media
It’s also a good idea to keep discussions from prying eyes by limiting posting about properties on your social media accounts. Social media has become a great tool in helping to sell your home, but it can also be used against you when buying a home. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram...so many ways to share with your friends about the awesome new house you’re falling in love with, there is nothing to stop the seller from looking at your public posts to find out just how interested you really are. Why would they accept a lower offer if they can clearly see you may pay more.
House hunting should be fun and exciting, so don’t get discouraged or nervous about sharing that excitement. Just be cautious about how and where you share. The old adage of buyer beware still exists but buyers should also be aware of just who may be listening in when you rave about how much you love a home.
Once the home is yours you can yell it from the rooftops, but until the ink is dry shhhh.
Robin Butler, Your friend in the real estate business.