3 in 10 home sellers admit to using cameras to spy on potential buyers during showings

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- When you are looking at a home for sale, is someone looking at you? In a world with quick internet access and tiny cameras, it is best to just assume you are being watched when conducting business.

Vincent Tracey talked with 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney from his newly purchased home. When he toured it, he spotted cameras.

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"There was three of them, it was really interesting," he says. "There was one in the living room, one in the kitchen and then one actually in the master bedroom."

"Did they tell you that cameras were there?" asked Finney.

Vincent said no, "I spotted them on my own."

Vincent was pretty understanding, saying he gets that sellers are vulnerable to theft.

Lending Tree has been thinking about and studying real estate cameras.

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Jacob Channel is with Lending Tree.

"We commissioned a survey, where we asked sellers if they've ever used a camera, a hidden camera to spy on potential homebuyers," he said. "And what we found was that three in ten are willing to admit, 'Yeah I have used a camera to spy on someone' and usually, when they do it, they say that they want to get the down low on what's happening, what buyers are really saying, sort of behind the scenes."

For many, spotting a thief is just a side benefit. Cameras are sometimes deployed to get the upper hand in negotiations.

Madeleine Salada is from Emeryville and has been looking to buy a home. "I have seen some things that look like cameras. I know there are some that are very subtle, so I'm very mindful," she said.

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Mindful of what she says, good or bad, about a property.

Manisha Chulani has been looking for a house, too. Has she thought about cameras?

"No, but now that you've mentioned it I'll be a little bit more vigilant," she said.

So is this legal? There is some disagreement, but generally it is believed shooting video is legal, recording sound without permission can be a violation of law.

So, sellers need to be careful, too.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

Have a question for Michael and the 7 On Your Side team? Fill out the form HERE!
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