By Nicholas T. Smith, Consumer Protection Officer
Seller clients entrust their listing agent to effectively market and expose their property to many prospective buyers. Holding an open house can be an effective marketing tool to gain exposure for a client’s property and can be a great way to find potential buyers. While this additional exposure can be advantageous for selling a home, conducting an open house poses additional risks to a broker and the seller and it is important that brokers take precautions to protect themselves and their client’s property when holding an open house.
Recently, a man and a woman posing as potential buyers were arrested in connection with multiple thefts occurring during open houses in Southern California. The male suspect distracted the agent conducting the open house while the female suspect went from room to room stealing desired items. Although more rare, brokers also have been victims of violent crimes during open houses, more often when they are alone.
A broker should be sure to discuss with their clients the safety risks of holding an open house and describe the precautions that should be taken to protect the property. When discussing preparations for the open house, a broker should remind their clients to take valuables and prescription drugs with them, or secure them in a safe place. While there is always a possibility of theft from a burglar entering the home under the guise of a potential buyer, the seller stands to lose less when valuables are removed or secured. Additionally, potential burglars who may be “casing” the property to determine if there is anything of value may be less inclined to return later.
Consider taking the following steps to better protect you and your client’s property and ensure a safe open house:
Preparing for a safe open house:
During the open house:
After the open house:
Editors Note: Credit is also attributed to the authors and contributors to the NC Safety Guide including the North Carolina Association of REALTORS ® and the Washington Real Estate Safety Council.