Strangers taking photos of our house

Two times in the past few months, someone has stopped their car in front of our house, gotten out, and taken a photo.  They also took a photo of our neighbor's house (but no other houses on the block).  Then they get in and drive off.  They're not on our property, so I don't think they're doing anything illegal, but it's curious and concerning.  Any idea why they might be doing this?  


They are looking for house colors.


Our neighbor's house is brick, so I don't think they're looking at house colors. We're not selling our house -- does a realtor take photos of neighboring houses?  (Not sure, but perhaps our neighbor is thinking of listing their house.)

Maybe an appraisal for our neighbor?  


Appraisal comes could be an answer.

Is it particularly photogenic? Possible movie shoot. There havre been some in our town.


RichardR said:

Our neighbor's house is brick, so I don't think they're looking at house colors. We're not selling our house -- does a realtor take photos of neighboring houses?  (Not sure, but perhaps our neighbor is thinking of listing their house.)

Maybe an appraisal for our neighbor?  

 Location hunters looking for places to shoot adS or movies?

  Several friends have had this done in their houses.  You get paid If they choose your house -don't know if it's a lot.  Many movies have shot scenes in SOMA.  Those pics were probably run back to an office where bosses/clients, creative & production teams review.  If they agree on one, someone will contact the owner.


Similar to checking house colors, I wandered the neighborhoods in 2013 while we were rebuilding our home. I was looking for house colors as well as candidate designs for our front portico and door surround ideas. My phone's picture collection looked like this for a long time. No one came out to ask me what the hell I was doing but I carried around a printed-out picture of Fallen Oaks Manor to show people just in case.

https://www.google.com/search?q=front+door+surround+ideas&rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS582US584&sxsrf=ALeKk015SYAWE7aPjeFJpbX6Axx_babpNg:1614631510947&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=e_Pi6aN6esRBpM%252CxpiEh9tOdLzs7M%252C_&vet=1&usg=AI4_-kR32Qm1UDvfjSCrkhY3CSa6bI2DtA&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj-lJyN-4_vAhXPEVkFHR1EBcQQ9QF6BAgLEAE&biw=1422&bih=654#imgrc=e_Pi6aN6esRBpM


During our walks, my husband and I have been taking photos of front doors we like.  So I opened this thread thinking "I knew we were making people nervous."  

Soon after we moved in, someone drove out and took multiple photos of our house.  I agree, it is disconcerting.  I actually went out to talk to them, but they drove away.  I think I still have photos of their rear license plate on my phone.


When my daughter was an infant, we had a car stop to stare at the house.  I waved, and two young women got out.  One of them had grown up in the house (a couple of owners earlier), and was showing her college roommate where she grew up.  I ended up giving them the quick tour and learning a couple of things.

Another time, when a man was parked out front taking pictures, I went out to check, and he showed me the hawk circling our chimney (we had a squirrel trap on it for a day or two, as part of a repair, and the hawk turned out to be terrorizing a captured squirrel, making a photo worthy display!)


susan1014 said:

When my daughter was an infant, we had a car stop to stare at the house.  I waved, and two young women got out.  One of them had grown up in the house (a couple of owners earlier), and was showing her college roommate where she grew up.  I ended up giving them the quick tour and learning a couple of things.

 I had a similar experience from the visitor's side. 

Five years ago, myself, my wife and an accompanying friend had just attended a cemetery memorial service down in Red Bank and decided to drive by the house where my two brothers and I had grown up, -memories that exist largely through the lens of home movies.

While we were parked at the curb a nice woman poked her head out the door and asked if she could help us. I informed her that not only had I once lived there but that my father had built her house (at the ripe old age of 26, right out of the Navy after WWII which still freaking amazes me).

She kindly invited us in which immediately became quite a trippy and emotional experience. So many feelings flooded my senses particularly since the memorial service that we had just attended was for my mother who earlier that week had passed away at the tender young age of 92. 

The new owner pointed out quite a few renovations that she had made including having knocked out the wall between the kitchen and living room and painted the red brick fireplace white. She unnecessarily apologized for changing things so dramatically and I said, "Hey please don't be sorry. It's your house. It looks great".

While she chatted with my wife and our friend upstairs I was able to sort-of quietly commune alone with my dad and the past while down in the basement examining his handiwork in the sturdy ceilings joists. Something so ordinary seemed a wonderment.

I still have the original building permit from 1947 in my truck, many of his tools, many that I still use and his hand-drawn building plan framed and hung on the wall of our kitchen that I've gutted and newly rebuilt. 


Beautiful story, steel.

One of the local roofing companies hands out lists of addresses of projects they've done with different shingle styles and colors so you can see what the finished product looks like. I spent a lot of time driving around and checking out people's roofs based on this list. 


A friend on Facebook recently (past week or two) posted photos of her family's former home in Maplewood and her best friend's home, which is next to it.  One is a brick house. 


Sounds like Detective Dave may have solved the case!


Also, thanks folks for all the likes!


I love these stories!  And we have done the same on occasion with our childhood homes.  But, I tend to think that this is not what is going on with our house.  It's always only one person, and they don't stay long, which I think perhaps you would if you were reliving memories of childhood.  The car parks, guy gets out, one or two quick photos, then back in the car and drives away. 


RichardR said:

I love these stories!  And we have done the same on occasion with our childhood homes.  But, I tend to think that this is not what is going on with our house.  It's always only one person, and they don't stay long, which I think perhaps you would if you were reliving memories of childhood.  The car parks, guy gets out, one or two quick photos, then back in the car and drives away. 

 I'm betting on the location scout hypothesis. 


Location scout, real estate person looking at comps, insurance person looking at roof, siding, whatever?


Shortly after we moved into our Maplewood house, a police car pulled up in front of the house and a uniformed officer got out of the car.  He introduced himself and told us that he had grown up in our house.  Since we knew from the title search that a family with the same last name had lived in the house immediately prior to the family we bought the house from, we believed him.  We talked for while and then he drove off.


Everyone is famous for 15 minutes. Maybe it's your turn.


joan_crystal said:

Shortly after we moved into our Maplewood house, a police car pulled up in front of the house and a uniformed officer got out of the car.  He introduced himself and told us that he had grown up in our house.  Since we knew from the title search that a family with the same last name had lived in the house immediately prior to the family we bought the house from, we believed him.  We talked for while and then he drove off.

 Did you let him in to look around?


It's also possible it was someone that you are going to get a call from asking to buy your house for cash. My husband got a call on his cellphone from an actual realtor in Bergen County wanting to know if he wanted to sell the house. He was stringing her along so well, I started getting nervous about having to move!


It’s more common than I thought. Same thing happened to me. Quite a few years after moving into my home, guy in pickup truck stops and take a picture. I was in the garage, went to talk to him, he grew up in the house and was wondering if my kids enjoyed maplecrest park as much as he did as a kid. Then my next door is neighbor who was a maplewood police officer, came out and he recognized the guy since he had stayed in his parents home next to mine, and they grew up together. It was quite amazing to hear the stories. Of course he wanted to see what I had done inside. He thanked me for taking good care of his old home, since his dad had been handy and fixed everything. But sadly his dad had fallen off the roof on the back porch and never fully recovered. 
so yeah, if you see someone looking intensely at your home ask them if there’s something you can help them with. 


A few years ago someone posted a story from the NY Times Real Estate section regarding Montclair and Maplewood. The cover photo was of our neighbor's and our house. I was quite surprised and pleased to see our thankfully recently painted house on the cover of the NYT.


RichardR said:

I love these stories!  And we have done the same on occasion with our childhood homes.  But, I tend to think that this is not what is going on with our house.  It's always only one person, and they don't stay long, which I think perhaps you would if you were reliving memories of childhood.  The car parks, guy gets out, one or two quick photos, then back in the car and drives away. 

It would have been a woman and she only made the one visit, so the mystery continues.


Many years ago when my son was  14 (he's 32 now), I took him out to Queens to see where his grandparents grew up.  My dad, (who he never got to meet) lived in a side-facing Dutch colonial in what is now an historical district of Flushing -- so happily nothing much has changed there except the shutter color. It's a short walk across Francis Lewis Blvd. to Bayside where Mom had lived. These were 2-family, attached houses, much less grand than where Dad lived.

As I was taking pics, an older woman came out, & when I explained, she immediately and emphatically said, "YOUR grandfather is the reason we have the BEST basement in the neighborhood!!"

I never got to meet my grandfather, but I'd heard this story many times.  He was very tall, transplanted from the Louisiana bayous after WWI.  He didn't much care for the City, and missed the outdoors and his gardens down south.

These houses had dirt floor basements that were were mostly used for storage.  Grandpa was an avid "tinkerer" who spent A LOT of time in the basement with its benches, tools & inventions. He wanted to be able to stand up straight in his basement!!

He built a complex pulley system into the wall to lift dozens of buckets of dirt he'd dug out of the basement & dump them through the kitchen window.  From this dirt he created his spectacular new garden in the long, narrow back yard.

The woman said she couldn't invite me in because her daughter -- who was now the owner -- wasn't home & would never forgive her for letting anyone see it as messy ias tt was. 

But she did say they had remodeled a few years ago and found the remnants of Grandpa's pulley system in the wall!  His garden, sadly, was no more.

So I didn't get to see inside, but she did invite me to come back for tea -- and to bring my mom if she was visiting from Florida..


I guess this won't happen to us. The person who grew up in our house is who sold it to us when he retired 26+ years ago, so any earlier inhabitants couldn't possibly still be living.


When Ms. bikefixed took me to see this area in 2007, it was the first time I'd ever been here. Even before we got to the office of the realtor her company assigned us for relocation, she took me to Locust Ave to show me the house she grew up in. The current owner came out, just like in your story, Junie.

She let us in and they were talking about the way the house was and when my wife mentioned what her dad made in the basement, the lady smiled and took us right down to see it was still there, all the way back from 1980. I think it even had the same random screws and washers still in this one bin. (Okay, I made that up)

Your story gave me a nice smile.

Juniemoon said

As I was taking pics, an older woman came out, & when I explained, she immediately and emphatically said, "YOUR grandfather is the reason we have the BEST basement in the neighborhood!!"




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