Open House Concerns
Q - Recently in the news there was a report about property being stolen at an Open House. Is this a common occurrence and can anything be done to prevent it?
A - I believe the incident you are speaking about is the gentleman who was roaming through the rooms at an Open House, not accompanied by a real estate agent, and stole some jewelry. The owners had a camera set up in the house and caught this on tape.
Unfortunately, it is more common than most believe. What adds to the problem is that the owners are not always aware that something has been stolen. It could be days or even weeks later that they discover something is missing. At that point in time, they don't always relate the missing object with the Open House.
I don't believe that Open Houses have the impact that they used to have because of our current technology. Buyers can view much of the home through beautiful on line photos of the exterior and interior of the homes. Many also provide a virtual tour. Through on-line research, a buyer has a pretty good idea if the home is of serious interest. An Open House attracts others besides potential buyers. Some check it out for decorating ideas and for some it's an afternoon outing. Others have ulterior motives such as an opportunity to steal something of value and even to access drugs by checking out medications in the medicine cabinets in washrooms or in the drawers of night tables.
If you feel you want to have an Open House, it should be a controlled Open House. That means, there should be more than one person participating in an Open House. One to accompany the viewers through the home and one to keep others from touring until the real estate agent is finished with the previous group. With this system, no one tours the home unaccompanied.
If interested, there is a more detailed explanation of this process in my book in the Open House chapter as well as other useful information that you may need as you go through the real estate process.