Are Open Houses an Invitation For Crime

Bill Gassett's picture
Is an Open House an Invitation For Crime

Look Out For The Downsides of an Open House!

Open houses get lots of local attention, often with many people viewing the property. But while real estate agents frequently push the idea on to sellers, are they really a good marketing tool or are you just opening yourself up to crime?

With an open house, a large proportion of the visitors won't be genuine house hunters who are looking to buy a property like yours. Instead, many will be tire kickers, others could just be nosy neighbors, and yes, some of them could be looking to steal from you as well.

There are many things that should not be left out at an open house. Remember that open houses get advertised online, social media including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, in the local newspaper and more. You are inviting complete strangers to your home!

An Open House for Criminals

These events can often get busy, do you really want random people walking around your home unattended? While there may be a form to fill out when the visitors enter, who would know if the details they give are genuine? The real estate agent may greet them when they arrive, but they will likely be left to their own devices to go where they please in your house. This could allow people to look through your things, removing items of value or gaining access to your financial documents. If things are stolen, it won't be easy to work out who committed the crime if there were a lot of people at the event.

Agreeing to an open house presents many risks, and not only while the showing is taking place either. It is easy to imagine a burglar using an event like this to find out if it is worth coming back at a later time. They could even unlock or open a window to make things easy for themselves.

The criminal may not be bold enough to commit a crime with other people walking around in the home. Instead, the open house allows them to understand the floor plan of the home and where the entrances are. This allows them to plan a burglary, learning what security measures you have and what valuables they can take.

Why Do Real Estate Agents Like Open Houses?

What is more, open house showings are often more beneficial to the real estate agent than the homeowner. They use these showings to canvas for more customers and can even end up acting for the buyer as well as the seller. This means that they will earn commissions from both sides or dual agency. This cannot be acting in the best interests of either the buyer or the seller.

Also, some of the people attending may be thinking of selling their house, making this a good way for the agent to find new clients. Other attendees might only be approved for a lower loan amount than you are selling your house for, another opportunity for the agent to drum up more business.

Qualified Buyers

The open house situation leads to many unqualified people gaining access to your property. A scheduled showing, however, should only allow buyers who are actually able to purchase your home. The agent will screen potential buyers and only show the property to those with preapproved loans ready to go.

More serious potential purchasers will always want a scheduled showing anyway. This will allow them to have the full attention of the agent so that they can find out more about the property. The bottom line, you want to have qualified buyers in the home who have been pre-approved by a mortgage lender.

How to Avoid Being Robbed

If you are still convinced that an open house is the best way to sell your property, there are a few things you can do to minimize the chances of being burglarized. You will want to secure your home and remove the temptation for a potential thief.

Lock all valuables away or remove them from the house. Ask the agent if they can get someone else to help them show the house. Photograph rooms before the showing and think about placing security cameras. Keep in mind if you are utilizing security cameras, you need to notify the attendees that they are being recorded. Carefully check the house after the showing and check that all doors and windows are locked

Conclusion

The risks involved with the open house are great and the chances of you finding a buyer are low. It may seem like a way of selling your house faster, but the reality is that this isn't a numbers game. More people wandering around your house isn't going to improve the chances of a sale when most of them aren't really serious about purchasing a property like yours anyway.

You are inviting trouble when you invite random and unqualified people into your home. This is, unfortunately, the case when opening up your house to strangers. Real estate agents which encourage the use of open houses, won't mention or will play down the chances of you being robbed. If your real estate agent is pushing to stage an event like this to sell your house, it may be worth considering switching to another agent. If you are going to decide to have an open house, then you want to

If your home accumulating days on market and not selling, you may decide to hold an open house. If you do, be sure to secure your home and valuables.

About the Author: The above real estate article “Are Open Houses Invitations for Crime?” was written by Sharon Paxson of Newport Beach Real Estate. With combined experience since 2005 with selling or buying, we welcome the opportunity to work with you.

We service the following Orange County CA areas including Corona del Mar, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Tustin and more! If you are considering selling your home, we welcome the opportunity to work with you and list your home with a top Newport Beach CA Realtor.

Add new comment