Surveillance SystemsWith the progression of inexpensive technology; many homes now have video and audio surveillance systems that record the information to a local hard drive or a remote server. The ease and convenience of these systems can go a long way toward providing peace of mind about keeping your home safe and secure. They are also a great way for second homeowners to keep an eye on their property. If you are a homeowner who has your home for sale; can it also be a great way to see what buyers think about your property?
Before you choose to do this, please consider the laws in your state. I am not an attorney and what is legal versus illegal when recording people without their knowledge differs from state to state. You should consult an attorney with specific questions before you do anything along these lines. I will share with you a summary of what I have researched regarding these laws in Missouri.
- Per The Digital Media Law Project: Missouri's wiretapping law is a "one-party consent" law. Missouri makes it a crime to intercept or record any "wire, oral, or electronic communication" unless one party to the conversation consents. In Missouri, you may record a conversation or phone call if you are a party to the conversation or you get prior consent from one party to the conversation, unless you are doing so to commit a criminal or torturous act. Missouri also prohibits the disclosure or use of the contents of any wire communication obtained in violation of this section. Violation of the Missouri law is a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment and fine. In addition to subjecting you to criminal prosecution, violating the Missouri wiretapping law can expose you to a civil lawsuit for damages by an injured party.
This law only extends to oral communications which are "uttered by a person exhibiting an expectation that such communication is not subject to interception under circumstances justifying such expectation.". You may be able to record in-person conversations occurring in a public place where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy without consent.
My opinion from researching the law and taking ethics into consideration is that a buyer should be made aware if a home they are viewing has recording devices. I think any advantage you may gain is not worth the possible repercussions. I also believe disclosing this to the potential buyer is the honest and right thing to do.
My suggestion to buyers and their agents is to be mindful that homes may have recording systems and be conscious of your conversations while viewing a home. You can also make a habit of inquiring whether a home you are considering has such a system.
Disclosure of surveillance systems should be easily accomplished by posting a sign at your entrance stating that this home has an audio and video recording system. I also believe that this disclosure should also be made to other agents conducting showings either via the MLS or other form of communication. If the system is to be included in the sale of your home, this could be a plus to the buyer. If you would prefer not to disclose this information, I suggest turning off the devices during showings. The reason owners are asked to leave during showings is so buyers can have privacy and feel comfortable while looking at a home. To record them without their knowledge seems like an invasion of privacy and lack of respect, in my opinion, even if it is your home.
Michael Elliott has been selling real estate at the Lake of the Ozarks since 1981. He is one of the most respected brokers in the area. If you have interest in a career in real estate or would like Michael’s assistance in the sale or purchase of property, contact him at 573.365.SOLD or firstname.lastname@example.org View thousands of lake area listings at www.YourLake.com $1 million plus homes at www.LakeMansions.com You can also view each months’ article, ask questions and offer your opinion on Michael’s real estate blog, www.AsTheLakeChurns.com