In the article virtual tour doubles as search warrant by Realty Times, Broderick Perkins addresses two homeowner objections about 360 virtual tours. Both objections relate to homeowner concerns of privacy. Although the article is very outdated with the popularity of 360 virtual tours (Dec 2002), these objections are still common and easily put to bed with some intelligence and solid facts.
Objection number one:
According to his article, homeowners give up their fourth amendment right to ‘expectation of privacy’ and therefore expose their home to police search (without a search warrant) if the property were to become a crime scene during the time that the virtual tour was available to the public.
First of all, if my home became a crime scene during the time that I had my house on the market, the last thing that I would be worried about is whether or not the police can see what my house looked like before the crime occurred. In fact, I would think that this would be a great help in the investigation and for insurance purposes.
Second, I may not be a lawyer, but I highly doubt that having a virtual tour of your home would allow the police to physically search your house without a search warrant. Yes, they and everyone else can view your virtual tour on Realtor.com. Even if you didn’t have a 360 virtual tour, police can ‘see’ inside your house with normal listing photos too.
So, if you are really concerned what the police may find in your house, maybe you should skip the virtual tour and take a couple of pictures of the front and back of the house. Or maybe take the house off the market completely to avoid having an Open House on Sunday.
Objection Number Two:
“Prospective thieves can see what I have in my home and case the house on the net.”
Even listing photos show what is in the house. Once your house is on the market, it is essentially on display to the public. Your real estate agent will be taking photos, making brochures, scheduling open houses and allowing other agents to tour the home with people that you know nothing about. Even the agents themselves are complete strangers to you, and (if you have a lock box on the property) they now have your permission to walk in and out of the house when you are not home. Even if you have an electronic lock box, my guess is that the person who plans a robbery won’t be using his code to open the front door.
For both of these objections, the answer is preparation. If you have really expensive artwork, jewelry or other belongings, put them in storage. If you are really concerned about your 10K television set, put that in storage too and get insurance on the storage unit. Hide anything that you do not want to be viewable to the public just as if you were preparing for an open house.
As a final hint on overcoming this objection; tell the homeowner to order two CDs of the 360 tour and provide one copy to their insurance company and place the other in a safe location like a bank security box. This way, if the worst case scenario happens, they will have proof of what was physically present at the property at the time that the virtual tour was performed.
Real Tour Vision
National Virtual Tour Company
Find a local virtual tour provider – 866-947-8687