Don't Show Your Home to Strangers Without an Appointment

Managing Real Estate Broker with Howard Hanna Rand Realty License # 49FA1074963

The other day a seller client told me that she showed her home to strangers off the street who knocked on her door and expressed interest in seeing the place without an appointment. She accommodated them. We don't know who they are, or even if they were qualified to buy. She just hoped they might be the ones. I told her to never do this again. Call me a suspicious New Yorker, but the risks outweigh the opportunity when you show you home to strangers with no appointment.  

Prior to scheduling a showing, we verify the credentials of showing agents, their contact information, and their licensure. Nobody gets an appointment without verification. If it is our own buyer, we verify their identity and their financial qualifications. Otherwise, I might as well have a hitchhiker in my car. To not take these measures I expose my firm to severe liability and clients to undue risk. 

What can go wrong by letting strangers into your home without a proper appointment? Plenty.

  • Theft
  • Violence
  • Vandalism
  • "Staking the place out" for future theft
  • Identity theft
That last point is a new one, but once someone can get a bill or some other personal item off your kitchen table you have the seeds of a far bigger problem than a stolen necklace. 

People who can't set up an appointment and insist on dealing directly with the owner of a listed property may not have a screw lose, but they are trying to pursue a fallacious angle, namely that bypassing the agent gives them an advantage. The bottom line is that while they may not hit you over the head, they are almost certainly wasting your time. 

J Philip Real Estate

Don't show without an appointment

Comments (105)

Monika McGillicuddy
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Verani Realty - Hampstead, NH
Southern NH & the Seacoast Area

That is so scary. In New Hampshire we had a FSBO rapist a few years back...very scary!

Jan 17, 2010 11:52 AM
Joy Carter & Jeff Booker Brother and Sister Team
Keller Williams Parkland/Coral Springs Realty-GreatFloridaHomes Team - Coral Springs, FL
Trust Your Family's Move To Our Expertise!

You stated it perfectly, "THE RISKS OUTWEIGH THE OPPORTUNITY".

It is part of our listing presentation.  If someone sees a sign or a lockbox on your home, they MIGHT Knock on your door.  We do not recommend you accommodate their request to preview.  Here are some of our business cards.  Ask them to call us and we'll make sure they are qualified to purchase your home.

Trust me - If they are serious, they will call us.  Joy

Jan 17, 2010 01:47 PM
Beverly Femia
BlueCoast Realty Corporation - Hampstead, NC
Broker Realtor Stager - Greater Wilmington, NC Are

On of my Sellers did allow a prospect to view their home who later made an offer, then withdrew when we asked a few questions, then stalked my Seller.  It's a great story that makes an impression when I use it to illustrate the risk of letting someone into your home who has not been properly screened.  

Jan 17, 2010 02:00 PM
Sarah Pearce
eXp Realty LLC - Wiscasset, ME

I never thought of it that way. I work in rural Maine and find the people so nice and accomidating. My first sale was actually someone that drove by my listing and knocked on the door. Yes he was let in. He called his agent the next day and came up and put an offer in.

I tell my high end listings to never let someone in, I will make it a point to tell everyone that.

Jan 17, 2010 02:08 PM
Raylene Estabrook
Signature Homes Real Estate Group - Yarmouth, ME

I too live in Maine which is considered a safe state. Considered-I warn all my clients to never do this. Being married to a detective, I know the risks and always warn my clients. Safety first.

Jan 17, 2010 11:29 PM
Bill Buettner
Keller Williams Greater Columbus - New Albany, OH
Your Real Estate Connection

Good post! This is good advice to follow. I cover these very concerns with all of my Clients.

Jan 18, 2010 12:28 AM
Chad Boyers
The Danberry Co.- Toledo, Perrysburg, Sylvania, & NW OH - Toledo, OH

This reminds me of conversations that I have with my boys telling them not to take candy from strangers.  It looks very tempting and possibly rewarding, but the risk is way too high.  The other similarity is that we have to keep repeating the message until our children/clients "get it".

Jan 18, 2010 02:17 AM
Bob Sweazy
Prudential A. S. de Movellan Real Estate - Lexington, KY

Even with conversations and warning about this, I have had clients permit prospective buyers tour their home without an appointment or an agent. This is a scary situation.

Jan 18, 2010 03:59 AM
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Very good advise.  There is a sign out front for a reason.  People should call.

Jan 18, 2010 12:23 PM
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

You can not cure dumb but you can cure ignorance. We probably all have some of both types of clients and we owe it  to both types to to try to educate them. I fear however, that the 'this might be the one" idea is to strong for most people to resist.

Jan 18, 2010 03:00 PM
Martin E. Kalisker, Esq.
Natick, MA
Real Estate Law From A Practical Perspective

There is another "twist" on this.  At open houses, ask your sellers to remove all prescription drugs from the medicine cabinets and other places where people can find them.  There are two primary reasons for doing so: a) possible identity theft - they know your name and could "hijack" your prescription to another pharmacy and b) teenagers now stage "prescription parties".  This is where they all get together and throw prescription drugs into a hat and pop them to see who gets the best high.  So, if you see unaccompanied teenagers at your open house - keep your eye on them (for their safety too).

Jan 19, 2010 05:17 AM
Mike Woods

Very risky. This something I have never thought of to warn sellers about. I always tell them to remove valuables during open houses and showings. Who does that, just walks up to a house and asks to for a tour?

Jan 22, 2010 01:45 AM
Cindy Abel
Southern Nevada Realty, LLC - Las Vegas, NV

I tell my buyers never to do this.  Still sometimes they can't help themselves.

I am always amazed when someone lets a stranger in their house.

Jan 22, 2010 08:11 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH@Properties - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Wow!  As an ex-New Yorker, I thought that I was suspicious.  Reading your description of how you pre-clear agents made me feel like a total slacker.  I guess I assume that if they've jumped through Sentrilcock's hoops and can get the door open, they are probably OK. 

Still, I don't want my buyers letting total strangers into their homes.  It give me the hives!

Jan 24, 2010 02:24 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones


You are so right on with this message. I tell my sellers before I put the lock box do not let anyone in who knocks at the door. If they don't have an agent call the number on the sign and someone will schedule an appointment! The lockbox is on for a reason..only Realtors with their dues paid current can enter. Our feedback system automatically emails the agents for feedback. It needs the information from the register from the lockbox to complete this task.

Jan 28, 2010 04:22 AM
Liz Moras Migic
Chilliwack, BC
Chilliwack, British Columbia - Realtor

Well layed out info and such a good reminder. Thanks for sharing - and would love to reblog it!

Jan 28, 2010 04:25 AM
Kent Simpson
Realty One Group Mountain Desert - Tucson, AZ
Real Estate Is About People

Great advice, Phillip - saw this first as Liz Moras reblogged it.  As a buyer's agent, just in case anything happens, my team makes a photocopy of the driver's license of anyone we're showing property to.  The office keeps a copy for insurance purposes.

Jan 28, 2010 01:11 PM
Tony Anderson
Century 21 Community Realty - Clarkesville, GA
Serving Habersham Banks White & Stephens Counties

What comes to my mind on  " things that can go wrong " list is DEATH.  In this state there have been Realtors murdered and a case where a woman selling her home herself ( FSBO ) was murdered.  Now that is very SERIOUS.  I always tell FSBO's to be very careful and be sure you know who your letting into your home. 

Feb 03, 2010 02:03 PM
Matthew Bartlett
Corcoran Global Living - Hill Top Team DRE Lic. #01353034 - Glendora, CA

Outstanding post. Safety is and always should be first and formost on our minds. 

Feb 10, 2010 03:44 PM
Beverly of Bev & Bob Meaux
Keller Williams Suburban Realty - West Orange, NJ
Where Buying & Selling Works

Bad, bad idea! and very good advice!

It's amazing we haven't had more security problems in our business but we can't tempt fate, either.

Feb 18, 2010 12:12 PM