This blog by my friend Cindy Westfall is one of the reasons I don't like doing Open Houses. I also hate it when they want to use the restroom, Prescription theft is a big fear of mine.
Who Stole The Piggy.. Dealing With Open House Theft
I just held one of my listings open yesterday, and in my eight years of doing them, it was the first time I got a call from the seller saying something was missing. Seems the seller had a piggy bank that was on the dresser that one of the open house guests decided to take with them.
It was a busy open house with a steady stream of people and groups coming through. Although I make a point of watching people, watching them as they come in and leave, I don't follow them around in each and every room.
Now I'm a bit pissed. I was probably chatting with the person while they had it under their coat, or in their purse (for you east coast ladies,pocketbook). Was it the heavily tattooed group...or perhaps it was the older woman that just came from church (or so she said). Perhaps it was the young couple with two kids. There were about 13 groups of either a single person or couples.
Now I know some of you that don't believe in doing open houses and advise your sellers against them are sitting there with that smile..thinking "Oh, I'm gonna print this blog up and show it to my sellers next time they want me to hold an open house", and hey, that might not be a bad idea.
This is for the agents that do hold open houses and have had some good results. I might not be the norm, but I personally have bought two of my own homes because I saw them during an open house. In this case, one of the open house goers had his agent make an appointment to get in to see the house with his wife ..so perhaps the open house might bring a buyer..but yes, I know this is not usually how it happens.
So what can we as agents do to prevent this?
* Ok, the obvious would be to just not hold open houses and let the sellers know the risks.
* Of course there is the good ole sign in sheet. My guess is that anyone looking to "case" the home, or steal something will probably not be writing down their real name and number.
* If the open is slow, the agent can always run out and write down the make, model and licensed plate of their car...but hmmmm..lately I've had a few open house goers ride up on there bicycles.
* If the seller wants you to hold open houses..and many do, I know I'm now going to be making up a list of things that they should be doing and noting the risks and have them sign it..such as locking up there jewelry, drugs, personal bills, etc that might be laying out. I already mention this when signing the listing documents though, but it needs to be reiterated before an open house.
Beyond patting everyone down, or looking in their bags when they leave, what can be done? Maybe there could be a rule that says all people that walk through an open house need to hand over ID so we can sign them in. I actually think this is a good idea. When we work with our buyers and show homes, we'be already screened them. Yes, this still doesn't mean they can't lift something, but it does lessen the odds. Why can't we ask for ID when strangers are walking through a home that haven't been pre-screened?
I'd love to hear how other agents deal or have dealt with open house theft.
Cindy Westfall ABR,GRI
Premiere Property Group
5000 Meadows Rd., Ste. 150, Lake Oswego, OR 97035
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Cynthia Westfall is licensed in Oregon State