How to Avoid Getting Robbed From an Open House

How to Avoid Getting Robbed From an Open HouseIf you are going to open up your house to visitors in hopes of selling it, it is only realistic to wonder if any of the strangers that come through your door are looking to steal something. You don’t have to be terribly suspicious by nature to want to protect your home and your valuables from unscrupulous individuals.

It is only common sense to take precautions during an open house. After all, you really don’t know who may come through the door. In fact most of the people coming through the open house your Realtor probably will not know either.

The open house is a completely different scenario than the typical environment where a real estate agent meets and qualifies a perspective buyer. The open house is a free for all where any Tom, Dick and Harry is allowed in the door.

If you are asking yourself does an open house sell homes the answer is cut and dry. You absolutely do not need to do an open house to sell a home! This is a real estate myth perpetrated by some Realtors who use the open house as an opportunity to capture additional clients.

Buyers serious about purchasing a home will always schedule an appointment with a Realtor to view a property they really want to see. Common sense right? Of course it is!

Most exceptional real estate agents will go over the pro’s and con’s of an open house. They will discuss with you the possibility that you could get robbed. If an open house is busy there is a strong possibility that an agent is not going to be able to watch everyone at all times. Unfortunately there are tons of Realtors who don’t want you to know that an open house brings security risks. They would just assume you don’t know so they can keep their prospecting train rolling. Another thing these same agents always fail to mention is the National Association of Realtors reports that a measly 2% of all homes are sold via an open house. The biggest reason a real estate agent does an open house is to meet potential clients they can work with!

If you do decide you really want to do an open house just make sure you follow the guidance on how to increase your chances of not getting robbed! Below you will see some excellent tips that could potentially help keep a robber away.

Tips to Protect Your Home During an Open House

  • Get a Realtor you can trust – The real estate agent you choose to help you sell your home is your main partner over the course of the sales process. This means you should be thorough in your decision making process before you pick just anybody to be your agent. Get recent references, interview several candidates and avoid picking anyone who gives you a bad vibe. Your Realtor will be the first defense against any problems that may arise during an open house, so you want to be able to trust him or her completely.
  • Ask the Realtor to bring an assistant – Depending on your area and how desirable your home is, there could be quite a few people wandering around the house at any given moment. This can quickly become too much to handle for a single Realtor, so it is best if he or she can bring along someone to assist in the showing. While the agent talks to potential buyers, the assistant can keep an eye on all the other people walking throughout the house. Realtors usually prefer the owners to stay away from the open house to avoid complicating a sale. If you aren’t’ there, you certainly want someone there to help watch the house while the agent is working. Of course, you can also attend the open house if you really want to, just make sure to let your agent do the selling – it’s what you hired him or her for, after all.
  • Let your neighbors know about the open house – If you get along with your neighbors they can prove to be a great asset while showing your home. Many will want to come by to take a look themselves. Let your neighbors know that you could use some help watching the house while it is being shown. They can keep an eye out for any suspicious activity and let you or the agent know if something comes up. Just remember, you may get a lot of false alarms depending on the individuals you have helping you watch the house.
  • Hide Valuables During an Open HouseProtect your valuables – It can be tempting to show off your favorite possessions when you are showing the house, but you should avoid keeping anything out that doesn’t have to be. One of the open house staging tips that I recommend is to have all of your important financial documents put away. Getting a hold of important account numbers is the last thing you want by being careless. All the people viewing your home cannot be observed all of the time, which means they will often have opportunities to steal if they choose to. Keep valuables locked up and out of sight as much as possible to avoid tempting would-be thieves. It is especially important to hide your jewelry in a place where nobody would think to look. Just because your jewelry is in a box does not mean it is safe. This is the first place a thief will look! Another thing that potential burglars will attempt to steal is prescription drugs. Make sure these are hidden is a safe place.
  • Take pictures before the open house – Once you and the Realtor have arranged the house for showing, take photos of all the rooms and areas in the home so you have a reference for after the visitors are gone. This will allow you to quickly spot any alterations or missing things. If you do notice a probe you can contact the authorities with confidence and an easy reference to show police.
  • Keep track of visitors – Visitors to an open house are usually asked to sign in as they come into the house, but not everyone does this. If you can have an extra person to ensure that people do sign in and perhaps even to keep track of cars and license plates outside of the home, you will have a better handle on who has entered your home and how to track them if you suspect suspicious activity.
  • Consider security cameras and alarms – It is now possible to equip your home with not only security alarms, but security cameras that you can view from your smartphone. Setup the alarm to notify you or the agent whenever anyone walks through the door and keep the security cameras running throughout the open house. This way you can know exactly who is in your home and what they are doing while they are there. If your home is equipped with cameras it is smart to have them turned on during an open house. Last year in my home town of Hopkinton Massachusetts a home was robbed during an open house. There was a five thousand dollar painting stolen right off the wall. The agent holding the open house didn’t even know the artwork was stolen because there were so many people going through at one time. Needless to say the owner noticed right away when they returned home but there was nothing they could do about it.
  • Realtor Not Responsible Open HouseCheck over the home after the open house has ended – Some burglaries will occur after the open house has ended. The criminal will go through the house and locate a window or door where he and his partners can enter later. He or she will unlock this door or window and come back when people are not likely to be around. By going through the house after the open house, you can make sure that all access points are locked and secure.
  • Hire a security guard – If you are showing a house or condominium in an area of town that has a very high crime rate, you may want to hire an actual security guard. Off-duty police officers will sometimes work as security, or you could contact an actual security firm to hire a guard for the day. Ideally, you could have the guard dressed in plain clothes to keep visitors comfortable and your home safe at the same time. While this will not be necessary in most locations, it is better to be safe than sorry. Considering the recent up-rise in crimes committed against real estate agents it only makes sense to take extra precautions when warranted.
  • Don’t host an open house – Deciding not to do the open house altogether may be the best advice! Many real estate agents will tell you that the actual benefits of an open house are minimal. Even when you get a ton of visitors to your home, very few are actually willing and ready to buy a home. Some are just window shopping, some are curious as to how you live and some are not even qualified for a home in your price range. It may be better to have your Realtor work on other ways to sell your home instead of putting your valuables at risk.
  • Talk to your agent – If your agent is insistent on the open house, he or she may have some good ideas on how to protect your home while showing it. Sit down and have a frank discussion about your concerns and ask the agent what he or she will do to address those concerns. If the agent has shown plenty of homes before, he or she may have some practices that will help reduce the chance of any problems coming up during the showing.

As you have probably guessed I am not a fan open houses. Never have been and probably never will. Having been in the real estate industry for the past twenty eight years, I know what works and what doesn’t. I have been one of the top RE/MAX agents in New England over the last decade and never do open houses. There are far better uses of ones time. Buyers today are religiously on the internet searching for homes. If there is something they really want to see they will pick up the phone and call a Realtor for a showing. Real buyers don’t say to themselves “if the agent doesn’t hold an open house I’m not interested”.

Other Valuable Articles on Open Houses

Use these additional helpful open house resources to determine if holding an open house is right for you. If the answer is yes make sure you do everything to protect your valuables from getting stolen.

About the author: The above Real Estate information on how to avoid getting robbed from an open house was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 28+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service Real Estate sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.

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  1. Marty Morua says

    For as long as I can remember, Open Houses have been a big part of the Real Estate industry. Your ‘Open House’ thoughts walk readers through a different interpretation process, and that’s sure refreshing Bill.

    Whether its a seasoned broker, someone just starting…… or even coming back into the industry after a 20 year hiatus (like I am), it helps to view common concepts differently, like those I just discovered in this Blog.

    Thanks again for your insightful Blogs Bill!!

    Marty Morua

    • says

      Marty I think it is important for Realtors to educate sellers on the pro’s and con’s of an open house. Many do not inform home owners of the risks involved. This of course is because many real estate agents need to do open houses in order to prospect for future business. Not that this is a bad thing but it should be brought to light the fact that anyone and everyone can walk through the front door completely unqualified.

  2. says

    As always I love the way you spell it out Bill! I discuss all of this with my sellers, always have. As time goes on I think it’s even more and more important for sellers to realize the con’s of exposing their homes like this. With the advent of the Internet with interior showcasing so easy, virtual tours and more, it leaves even less of a reason to hold those homes open. I would rather have my agent focusing on the true marketing instead of sitting a property for a day and exposing it to anyone that happens by.

    I have moved my services to a coastal community and it is amazing to see the homes held open every single weekend and holidays.. It’s a no brainer that this is for developing clients from the tourist trade. Great article and one I will pass on. Thank you, Pamela Easton

    • says

      Thanks Pamela. A Realtor should always point out the pro’s and con’s of an open house but most rarely do. It has been and always will be a prospecting event for a real estate agent.

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