By Greg Alford

First, let me just say I’m not an attorney. In saying that, I have not posted or commented on this board for a while. But I had some time the other day and read a few posts where agents are taking pictures of Open House visitors that are causing problems, look like or are suspected of causing problems, may be committing crime etc in the Open Houses. Back a while ago unfortunately an agent/Realtor was killed while showing a vacant property to folks that called her and pretended to be interested buyers.I believe this was in Arkansas, not sure now. But most of us remember that.

Agents here in Md were commenting about the incident and speaking of arming themselves with guns and or some kind of weapon. I called MREC on this and asked, can I carry a gun in my open house? And can I use it to defend myself. The answer was, “The Md Real Estate Commission cannot take a stand or comment on that.” You will need to contact your E&O coverage and also ask your Broker. To me, HUGE RED FLAGE!  So, I investigated further only to find out in the state of Maryland, criminals have rights. Go figure. Thats right folks, they do.

So in trying to help my fellow agents, in my opinion you will need to be extremely careful taking pictures of visitors in your open houses regardless of what you think they are up to or most importantly who you think they are and what you think they are doing. I believe you are violating several Maryland laws by doing that. And, worse case you could be accused of discrimination. We all know what happens if found guilty of that one. Think of it this way, you had 8 visitors in your open. You gave 3 bottles of water and became so busy you just couldn’t get to the others. In fact you did not meet the others , they were in and out. Would you be surprised if you received a letter from an attorney that said, “water was given to visitors of the above open house. My client would like to know why not him, them, her, etc. I think you know the rest of the story.

All I’m saying is this, contact your Broker and ask about the picture taking, not sure is the answer. Fine, contact the MAR Legal Hot Line. As an agent , you get 2 free calls, as a Broker you get free calls a year long. And no matter what the answers or advise, contact your E&O Ins Co. If they don’t cover that situation and you are sued because you took a cell pic without the person’s permission, your on your own. By the way, if it’s against Md law to take a person’s picture (stranger on a beach)and it is by the way, it’s probably against Md law to take a cell pic of a visitor in your open house. A total stranger.
My advise is you’re better off resorting to the old fashion “Red File” phone call. Also, having you and another agent both at the open house. 2 agent opens are the safest way in my opinion. Any attorneys on here that can give advise to the “cell phone” picture taking?