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Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 12:52 PM


For a couple of months now, every week or so some stranger drives slowly past my house taking pictures. Always a different vehicle, men and women, white and black.

Today I yelled from the front door and asked why they (she this time) was taking pictures of my house. She drove away without answering and I KNOW she heard me.

What the hell is going on? Any ideas?

Lettermanfan1  (Level: 88.3 - Posts: 486)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 12:55 PM

Smoke, how weird! Where do you live? Is it an area that they want to build up? Put in a shopping mall or something? It's probably realtors. They do it around here sometimes, but they usually get out of the car.

Eesusbejesus  (Level: 75.0 - Posts: 3641)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 12:56 PM

It could be realtors or property appraisers. When someone is appraising property, they compare it to other properties in the area with about the same square footage, etc., and include the values of those homes in comparison to the home that is being appraised.

Or it could be the somebody tipped the paparazzi about where you have been all these years, Marilyn.

Pepperdoc  (Level: 152.5 - Posts: 4285)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 12:57 PM

I would say a PI, but I thought they were more subtle. Guess it could be realtors. Maybe they're doing comps in the neighborhood and want to show prospective clients prices of similar homes and show photos along with the price.

Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 12:58 PM

We just bought the house last summer and we're constantly bombarded with mail and phone calls from mortgage companies wanting to refinance us, and I kinda hope it's something to do with that, but why take pics of the house? I don't get it and it's creeping me out bigtime.

Kimoira  (Level: 213.0 - Posts: 1195)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 12:58 PM

I know of cases of that sort of thing happening when a person is on disability for example, and someone wants to disprove a claim, things of that nature. Other than jealous spouses- I don't know

It would drive me nuts too though.

Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 1:01 PM

Maybe it is the comparison thing. There are a few houses for sale in the area and one a few houses down, and our house is one of the better-looking ones on the block, if I do say so.

Or maybe Lodi's right and the papparats have found me. What to do?

I'm loading all the guns.

Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 1:03 PM

I am on disability and I've thought of that (think of it every time I bring a bag of groceries in the house), but I've never been outside when it's happened and they don't seem interested in anything but the house.

Pepperdoc  (Level: 152.5 - Posts: 4285)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 1:03 PM

If it's a realtor, put a junk car on blocks in your front yard. That should stop 'em.

Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 1:03 PM

Oooh, Pep, that's brilliant. Neighbors may not like it, though.

Kaelin  (Level: 49.2 - Posts: 1685)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 1:09 PM


Maurlin  (Level: 220.5 - Posts: 2708)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 1:20 PM

Does it appear that your house is the only one on the block being photographed?

Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 1:27 PM

Sure does. But I may be paranoid or just not noticing any others.

I don't think it's Smaug. And if it is, well, the guns are loaded now.

Papermanbill  (Level: 41.3 - Posts: 1312)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 1:40 PM

Donna Dear, It is very possible that somebody sold your name and information. The same thing goes on with me, but I am not afraid to use fancy four letter words to discourage the next call. Creditors are known to sell your basic info, that keeps a lot of letter
carriers working. I get black orientated magazines all the time and I never pay invoices, weird. More than likely, the picture taking is real estate. If you are able, act like you are marking down their tag number and fake a cell phone call. That might help. It could be the same Sploofus underground that sabotages me. Just kidding.

Tuzilla  (Level: 144.8 - Posts: 3839)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 2:38 PM

Get your camera, get their license plate with time stamp and all.

I told you to stop harassing Felix.

Phitzy1  (Level: 66.4 - Posts: 873)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 2:42 PM

Donna, I suggest that you get ready for a nice vacation to a little island to our south...

I knew it would come to this.

Scorbett105  (Level: 197.0 - Posts: 13)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 2:48 PM

Get the license number and call the police. The same thing happened to my husband and me. They even called me at work and then hung up. It was a burglary ring. I wish someone had warned me. We were cleaned out about a week after the calls and drive bys stopped. Scorbett105

Redwingchick  (Level: 91.1 - Posts: 420)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 3:11 PM

Moon 'em. That's what I would do.

Bravegator  (Level: 152.0 - Posts: 428)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 3:52 PM

If you just bought recently, then Lori is right. THey are using you for a comparison on the appraisal. All of the ones I have seen include pics of the comparibles.


Redwingchick  (Level: 91.1 - Posts: 420)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 6:19 PM

I am serious. Get out on the front step, drop trou and bend over. I'll come over and do it for ya.

Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 6:28 PM

That's very tempting, and not beyond the realm of possibilities, but I think first I'll try stepping out the door with my camera and returning the favor.

I'll get Big John to moon 'em. If that doesn't scare 'em off I may as well shoot 'em.

Thanks, guys, I appreciate the info and the support. I think I just wanted to be reassured on the real estate angle. There are two houses for sale on this block, and it's likely it's to do with those rather than us.

Seriously, though, I wonder if they ever get shot at?

Eesusbejesus  (Level: 75.0 - Posts: 3641)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 6:33 PM

Well, I do know that recent appraisal comparison photos of our house probably include me standing in the big window in the living room, hands on hips, giving the stink eye.

Pepperdoc  (Level: 152.5 - Posts: 4285)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 6:48 PM

Ok, Lodi, I have to ask. Did that drive the price UP or DOWN.

Jank0614  (Level: 67.1 - Posts: 4593)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 7:48 PM

I agree - as soon as you see them, step out and start shooting - your camera at them. They'll either smile because they're legit real estate people, or disappear because you have their mug shot.

Lisap369  (Level: 61.1 - Posts: 992)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 11:14 PM

Donna, as a realtor I often prepare opinions of value. The MLS system (among other research sites realtors pay for) should give a realtor enough information on each property to compile comparables - including pictures that the listing broker took when they listed the house. There is NO reason why a realtor, or many for that matter, should be driving by your house taking pictures.

Having said that, I am a realtor in Ontario, and procedures may vary from region to region but, I've never heard of "drive by" photo shoots by realtors.

There are emerging web services out there that work like google earth but they are street level. (check it out - it's actually pretty cool) If you live in a suburban neighbourhood, there's hardly value in this for the developers but, if you live on a main thouroughfare, they could be the culprits.

Hate to burst your realtor theory but, if its not a realtor, and not a web service taking street level pics, I'd definitely be taking pics of them myself (if your camera is at hand), trying to get licence plates, etc.

Hope this helps you.. stay safe.

Kaufman  (Level: 267.9 - Posts: 3941)
Thu, 20th Mar '08 11:18 PM

Beat Ken Jennings and suddenly everyone wants to see your house ...

Eesusbejesus  (Level: 75.0 - Posts: 3641)
Fri, 21st Mar '08 12:10 AM

Hey Lisa, here in the states, its not realtors taking the pictures, but those who do appraisals for the banks. When we refinanced, the appraiser came out and spent an hour or so, and then said she had to go to the courthouse, find similar properties and snap some pics. In our original appraisal report, there are actual photos of other people's houses, including addresses, square footage, number of rooms, etc., along with their most recent sales prices. Although one day, I did see a local realtor that I recognized, stop and snap a picture of our house. When I asked him why, he said that when he's doing a sale and needs an appraisal done, he will sometimes take pictures of houses that are similar and provide the sales information to the appraiser. According to them, this is called a "desk appraisal." Meaning the appraiser never leaves his desk to actually review the property. They take the information provided by the realtor and make their determination. Big flipping ripoff, I think.

Greyghost  (Level: 68.4 - Posts: 640)
Fri, 21st Mar '08 1:37 AM

Report it 4 Gods sake. I was told i was being watched like a hawk (no idea why),i laughed,been shot,stabbed,beat half to death,got smart mouthed. next i knew i answered a knock on door and got slashed,almost lost my eye. Please don't take this lightly.

Aquamar  (Level: 186.0 - Posts: 925)
Fri, 21st Mar '08 2:09 AM

Oh my gosh Karen where do you live? Thats horrible to have so many bad things happen to one person. I don't think I'd ever leave my house if those kinds of things happened to me.

Revdodd  (Level: 68.7 - Posts: 775)
Fri, 21st Mar '08 6:42 AM

Smoke, do you know someone who'd let you borrow a big dog?

If it's an appraiser, then a house with big ol' barking dog will not make pretty comparison photos.

If it's a burgulary ring, then they SURE will leave you alone after spotting a beast.

If that fails, just stick some Jeff Gordon memorabilia out front. Accomplishes the same thing.

Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Fri, 21st Mar '08 8:30 AM

Thanks, everyone, for your concern and suggestions.

Lisa, I called my realtor and she said this was not unheard of, but seemed surprised to hear it's happening so often. She asked me a lot of questions about what's vacant in the neighborhood and I suspect she has some professional interest of her own.

It's a quiet post-WWII neighborhood of tidy brick bungalows along the river, in the process of being revitalized by nearby renovations and development, with older people moving away or dying, and younger folks coming in; some rentals but mostly resident-owned. Not sure about the other streets in the neighborhood, but there are two available on this block, one just vacated across the street within the past month. The realtor seemed to think the recent activity could be related to those people putting their house on the market.

Karen, I'm so sorry about the terrible things that have happened to you, dear. PLEASE never open a door unless you know who's on the other side!

Rev, there's over 300 pounds of highly protective weimaraner and dobersheperman in the house with me at all times, and 100 pounds of it goes with me everywhere! Wasn't kidding about the guns, either. I'm safe, I'm just annoyed mostly.

I feel a bit better now. At last until the next one. Thanks again, guys, you're the best!

Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Fri, 21st Mar '08 8:31 AM

And what on EARTH would give you the bizarre idea that there would be any nodroG memorabilia around here?

Kaufman  (Level: 267.9 - Posts: 3941)
Fri, 21st Mar '08 9:01 AM

I suppose snooker memorabilia are out of the question too.

Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Fri, 21st Mar '08 9:05 AM

More likely than the other.

Lisap369  (Level: 61.1 - Posts: 992)
Fri, 21st Mar '08 9:09 AM

Hey Lodi.. things do seem to work different down there in the U.S. Here, when we need comparables, all information needed is already on MLS (up to 12 pictures, lot size, total sq.ft., room sizes, etc.), even appraisers have access to MLS (by MLS I mean the site realtors have access to - the public MLS displays current listings, not solds). I understand appraisers come out to the properties they are appraising for value but, not usually properties they are comparing it to.

Texlewee  (Level: 34.1 - Posts: 601)
Fri, 21st Mar '08 12:29 PM

Here's what is happening in my best estimation

right now because of the volatile real estate market, most major portfolios are reviewing their assets, and "bundles" that hold "A" paper are being sold at a premium. Also, with foreclosures at an all time high, appraisers are out in force. They are required to get up to date photos and old MLS photos aren't acceptable for appraisals.

SO, if you have a mortgage, it may be being sold to another servicer. OR there might be a foreclosure in the neighborhood and you're a "comp"

Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Fri, 21st Mar '08 12:48 PM

Thank you for the info, Tex. Helpful and reassuring.

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