Open house paparazzi: Point and shoot--or ask first?

By Margot Slade  | April 20, 2011 - 8:15AM

There are some excellent reasons for snapping pictures at an open house: Your partner isn't with you, your memory stinks or you want to show pictures to your contractor or designer.  But is it invading someone's privacy to whip out your camera in someone else's home, whether co-op, condo, or occupied rental, without asking permission first? 

Opinions are divided on, where one former renter, for example, recalls finding a picture of his dog on Craigslist, posted there by a visiting broker advertising the place as pet-friendly. 

So should you snap without asking?

Yep, go right ahead, and bring a laser tape measure too:

  • "Most definitely snap away. even if the broker minds, still snap away. aint like you deciding on a 99c item. if ppty is a fixer, snap tons of pics so that you can recall better the layouts, cracks/leans in the walls, etc. very handy as you can show pics to a mortgage broker to see if you can get mortgage on it, to a contractor for a rough ball park on cost, etc."
  • "Rarely an issue. unless you are opening drawers and taking snapshots"
  • "Yes. Start and end a series with an outside shot of the house/building to help keep track."


  • "Saw someone doing just that this weekend at an open house and I thought it was kind of odd. If I were the seller, I certainly wouldn't appreciate someone having pictures of the contents of my house... It's one thing to have photos you approved up on the broker's site and something else to have some weirdo taking pictures of your closet contents."
  • "Ask permission, don't be rude! I've just had an open house, it seemed that everyone would open doors and SLAM them shut (cabinets, refrigerator, linen closets) WTF! Newbies must be taught manners!"
  • "Most sellers I deal with expressly ask that I not allow random photo-taking at open houses, specifically to avoid people posting the shots to their Facebook pages, etc. Think about it - this is still someone else's home, and they do have a right to some privacy. There are photos and floor plans on the website. If you're that interested in a place, ask to come back for a private appointment, at which point the seller will most likely be more open to that kind of thing, as you've expressed more than simple voyeurism."
  • "[L]egally, it is not allowed to take photos on private property without permission of the owner."

Broker-blogger Malcolm Carter identifies another reason why brokers might not want to allow photographs: Fear that other brokers might use the pics to create their own listing and snag half the commission.



Related posts:

Inside Story: What I saw at your open house

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