The other day I was showing a home in Bend to a couple from out-of-state. While they were checking out the kitchen, I wandered into the great room. And there, on the mantle and partially hidden by a potted plant was….a webcam.
I pointed out the little eyeball to this couple so we began looking for more wireless devices. And whadaya know…we found two more. One was in the master bedroom between some books and the other in the garage on a shelf.
Now…I understand why sellers would think this is a good idea, and it’s possible that the webcams were placed where they were to see if the poodle was the one eating all the Junior Mints. But these buyers were a bit disconcerted to think that our movements, and possibly our conversation was being recorded by the homeowner. Heck…the homeowners were probably watching us on their iPhone and listening to what we were saying while sipping a cup at Starbucks! What great entertainment!
We then communicated, using eye gestures, that we should probably wait until we got outside to talk about the buyers opinion of the home. After all – it puts the buyers at a distinct negotiating disadvantage if the sellers have heard them saying loving things about the sellers home while the buyers are doing cartwheels in the sellers living room.
So…I wondered what the law says about this kind of surveillance. Turns out the Oregon rules are pretty clear. One may record video of another without their consent. But recording audio is another issue altogether.
2017 ORS 165.540 (subsection C) says:
“A person may not: Obtain or attempt to obtain the whole or any part of a conversation by means of any device, contrivance, machine or apparatus, whether electrical, mechanical, manual or otherwise, if not all participants in the conversation are specifically informed that their conversation is being obtained.”
Imagine, if you will, that you are buying a home and you LOVE this particular abode in which the seller has webcams and is recording your every move PLUS all the wonderful comments you are making about the home. You make an offer, the sellers counter for more money, which you agree to because you can’t live without this home! You move into the home and soon hear from the nosy neighbor that the seller recorded everything you said about the home when you were viewing it. And the seller failed to tell you that your conversations were being recorded. Uh…Oh. I see a lawyer coming down the street…
So…my advice to Sellers is to ditch the webcams during showings OR put a large cardboard sign over the mantle saying “All Conversations Are Being Recorded”. Whichever you think would be most prudent.