Can I take photos or videos at a home showing?
Can I, as a prospective buyer, take pictures or videos of a home that is for sale?
The short answer is no, not unless you have received permission from the homeowner – either directly or through their agent.
In an age when everyone has a cell phone camera in their pocket, it can be tempting to take photos and videos when you are searching for a home. This can be especially helpful if you have seen a number of properties, and want to keep track of which features were present in which home.
As well, if you find a property you really like, you might want to share photos or videos with your family and friends to get a second or third opinion, or perhaps capture areas you would like to renovate to share with a contractor.
No matter the scenario, I encourage you to check with your agent. They typically have access to many photos of listed homes, and some may even have detailed video tours, which have become increasingly common since the pandemic began.
If there is something you would like to take a photo or video of, ask your agent to get the seller’s permission first.
The listing agent will let you know if you have permission to capture some shots, and also if there are any restrictions you need to be aware of. For example, the homeowner may not want any photos or videos taken of their children’s bedrooms or certain home contents and belongings.
Here are a few additional things for you to consider:
- When visiting a property for sale, remember that it is someone else’s home. Use your discretion and be respectful of their home and privacy.
- Avoid capturing personal or identifying information about the homeowners. This includes things like framed family photos and certificates displayed on walls and tables.
- Do not take photos or videos of contents within cupboards and drawers, or of any personal belongings.
If you do get permission to take photos, please remember that they are intended for your personal reference only and should never be shared on social media or any other public platforms.
To look at things from the other side, if you are the one selling a property, I suggest that you clearly communicate with your agent any preferences or privacy concerns pertaining to buyers taking photos or videos. This way, the agent will be able to put your instructions in writing in any listings and marketing materials in the home, as well as notify prospective buyers’ agents prior to open houses and scheduled visits.
You can also take proactive safety measures when preparing your home for showings. I recommend placing valuables like cash and jewelry, as well as any paperwork with private information like passports, bills, investment, tax, and health records, in a safe or locked cabinet. While an agent must be present during showings (unless you give specific instructions that they are not required), and prospective buyers are generally advised not to capture any personal information even if permitted to take photos, you will minimize your risk by taking these steps.
If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column is for general information purposes only and is not meant as legal or professional advice on real estate transactions.
Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.