Staging + Open Houses

Three out of 10 sellers admit to using spy cams during showings

By Brick Underground  | July 29, 2021 - 2:30PM

As popular as hidden cameras are these days, 44 percent of survey respondents say they would back out of a deal if they discovered the seller was secretly recording them.


Sellers who are using spy cams during open houses could be risking jeopardizing a deal‚ or at the very least—making potential buyers uncomfortable.

A new survey from LendingTree found that three in 10 sellers admit to using a hidden camera during open houses. Most said it was to gain insight into what buyers do and don’t like about the property.

Conversely, about a third of buyers attending a showing suspect a hidden camera is present; that share is higher in the Northeast, where 38 percent of buyers are most likely to suspect there’s a camera.

Here’s the rub: As popular as hidden cameras are (a third said they would consider using them when selling) 44 percent of respondents say they would back out of a deal if they discovered the seller was secretly recording them.


Those findings are consistent with reporting by Brick: Even though video cameras are often part of open houses and showings in New York City, their presence can make buyers and agents feel nervous and uncomfortable, even causing buyers to change their behavior.

Cameras bump up against the basic tenet of selling, which is to encourage a buyer to envision themselves in a place, McKenzie Ryan, an agent at Compass, previously told Brick. That’s hard to do when you have that feeling of being recorded or watched and as a result, become hyperaware of the seller’s presence.

Most NYC brokers say they expect there will be a nanny cam at a showing and have developed a range of methods to deal with cameras—they may point out the red glowing light to clients (“wave hello!”), ask to have them turned off, or encourage sellers to share their thoughts after they have left the showing.

Still, several brokers noted that New Yorkers—both buyers and sellers—are a pretty sophisticated group. Sellers have better things to do than sit and watch the cameras and buyers know the nanny cams were not specifically installed to watch them in particular, they said. They’re just part of life in NYC.


Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertiser's product without making the relationship clear to our readers.