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Google Gets It


In The Shorts
I knew it would only be a matter of time that someone would throw a fit about a picture being taken of their neighborhood. 

With Their Pants Down
I thought it would be because someone was caught doing something they weren’t supposed to.  I was hoping for something interesting.  Like a robber climbing in or jumping out of a window.  The lover caught with his car parked in front of the house.  What I didn’t think about – of all things – is that a couple would sue simply over the picture itself.  I don’t know why that didn’t dawn on me. 

Are We At Risk?
It’s not interesting or funny that there would be a lawsuit over just a picture of a house.  We take pictures of houses every day.  Could we be sued if we posted a picture of our listing and even inadvertently the house next door was in the shot?  What if Greg was taking pictures for one of his boffo-socko listing websites and got sued for invasion of privacy because he included shots of the neighborhood?  Should we get releases from every owner whose house we take a picture of?   

Bottom Line
There isn’t one.  I just wanted to use that subtitle.   Well, I guess the bottom line is that anybody can sue for anything; and we’d better have good E&O insurance.

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Written By

As a lifelong resident and local Realtor, Vicki has established herself as a respected member of the San Mateo County real estate community. She’s known for her wit, sarcasm, and her personality that shows through in her posts. You can find her spouting off at Twitter, here at ag, and her personal blog, San Mateo Real Estate



  1. Benn Rosales

    April 6, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    Although its a cool idea, I don’t personally like it- I think its invasive and will cause people trouble. I spent about an hour reading plates the other day, although the resolution was so weak they were hard to make out, I’m guessing someone somewhere that wants to do harm will find a way.

    However, I can see working it into my home marketing as the ultimate exterior virtual tour- so long as the neighborhood is in as good a condition as my listing, my sellers won’t pay a steep price for their neigbors lack of good care.

    You said just a picture, but I assure you that it is more than just a picture. You can virtually drive down the street by clicking on the arrows, turn around and see the other side of the window. Those casing homes for a robbery no longer need to risk being seen casing the joint- they can just log online- easy.

    Even more scary was the ability to see schools and find weaknesses in play areas, places a predator can hide or stalk victims. All can now be done safely in the privacy of their own homes without risk of detection. I wont even get into terrorism, or other ways this could be used for evil purposes.

    It is a cool tool, but not really worth the risk.

  2. Vicki Moore

    April 7, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    I certainly understand your position. It’s another point for Big Brother. Someone is always going to find a way to harm, if that’s what they’re looking for.

    I would argue whether or not it’s enhancing the ability to case a home or find a weakness at a school. As we know from looking at virtual tours, the actual site doesn’t quite match up to the real thing. Maybe it’s just the belief that that is too vile for me to consider. If someone is actually doing as you suggest, the only thing I can say is God help us.

    I imagine Google is walking a fine line; but I doubt that they arbitrarily offered this feature on their site without checking with legal counsel first.

    The places we can go out into public without being filmed are diminishing. Like I said, I thought a lawsuit of this type would surface much sooner. As realtors, we need to be aware of this lawsuit and consider whether or not we’re subjecting ourselves to the possibility of a lawsuit. We’re just as at risk as Google is.

    In this particular case, they’re claiming invasion of privacy; however, apparently there are photos of the property on another website. That may weaken the strength of their claim.

    I took “just a picture” to a place of humor, which is always where my mind goes. I’m sure that it’s a very serious matter for them as well. I have enough seriousness to deal with. I want to laugh. I wanted to see some half dressed guy jumping out a window.

  3. Matthew Rathbun

    April 8, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    Well….at least they can’t sue McDonalds for spilling coffee on themselves. Oh wait!!! Vicky, I love your quick musings. I also thought it was silly at first, but I guess if you don’t have permission, than you probably don’t have purpose and you should stick to what really is needed to sell a home. People are just looking to separate a Realtor and their money…

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