Articles    Bill Port    Rachel Port    219-865-2499

by Rachel Port
A growing number of home owners are installing home surveillance systems in their homes. When ‘home owners’ become ‘home sellers’, they have the potential to use these security monitoring systems to eavesdrop on potential buyers and agents as they shop for a home.  What sellers see and hear during home showings can then be used as leverage during price negotiations.  The laws have become very debatable when it comes to using video and audio recordings within one’s own home.  Surveillance laws vary by state.  It is usually considered legal to have cameras in your personal home, however, in most states, video and audio monitoring are generally prohibited in places where someone has “a reasonable expectation of privacy. ” Many newer security cameras, nanny cams, and Wi-Fi cameras record both audio and video, which also places those devices under the governance of wiretapping laws.

Are video and audio surveillance legal when selling your home?In some states, like Illinois, laws require that all parties to a conversation consent to being recorded. In other States, like Indiana, the recording of audio conversations re-quire the consent of only one of the people being recorded.   In other words, in Indiana, it is legal to record a conversation that involves you, even though the other person you are speaking with is unaware of the recording.  When a buyer is viewing a home, audio recording without consent would likely be legal in Indiana if the home seller is accompanying the buyer in a conversation within the seller’s home.  More often, home showings involve a buyer who is accompanied only by their real estate agent while viewing a seller’s home.  This can lead to the unsuspecting house hunters and their real estate brokers having their private conversations monitored without their consent while in the home.

When selling, it is best to notify potential purchasers that you have audio or video
surveillance in your home.  In an article about surveillance laws compiled by the National Association of Realtors®* (NAR) recommends that listing brokers ask home sellers if they’re using surveillance equipment. Even if a home seller is recording within their own home, it can hardly be ethical for them to record or monitor a buyer’s conversation if the buyer feels they are speaking in private. Some states now require the posting of a notice that recording is taking place on the premises.   When our seller clients have monitoring systems, we recommend that they put a notice on the entrance doors stating that the property is under surveillance. We believe it is best to avoid any later claims of illegal, undisclosed or unethical recordings.

You can never be sure if there is video or audio monitoring within a home seller’s property. Potential buyers need to be aware that ANYTHING they say could be used against them when negotiating.  When home shopping, we advise our buyer clients to keep quiet, and assume that all properties may be monitored with video or audio surveillance.

The information provided in this article is intended for general information purposes only, and may not constitute the most up-to-date information with respect to this subject.  This article is not intended to convey and does not constitute legal advice or opinions. Readers should not act based on any information provided in this article and should consult legal counsel for legal advice with respect to a particular subject matter.

More information is available by reading the NAR article Video and Audio Surveillance State Law Survey (  or by viewing the linked video showing the Surveillance Opinions of Attorney Finley Maxsen,  Legal Counsel of the National Association of Realtors.  

The author, Rachel Port and her husband Bill Port have been listing and selling homes for over 25 years.  They are licensed Real Estate Brokers with RE/MAX, serving Northwest Indiana as well as Chicago, Illinois and Chicago's suburbs.  The Ports have owned dozens of homes, assisted clients in thousands of real estate transactions and have written numerous articles on the subject of real estate.  You may contact them to buy or sell your home at 219-865-2499.

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Is spying illegal when selling your home?  Bill and Rachel Port, 219-613-7527
Bill and Rachel Port  
RE/MAX Realty Associates  
(219) 613-7527

RE/MAX Realty Associates