It was late on a Saturday afternoon. The day before, Susan, a real estate agent, had confirmed the Saturday afternoon open house for one of her clients. When Susan arrived, she let herself into the home, as instructed, and saw that the house was a little messy. Wanting to present the home in the best light to potential buyers, Susan washed the dishes in the sink, folded some laundry, and tidied up rooms. The time for the open house came, a few people arrived, and Susan showed them the property. About 45 minutes into the open house, another real estate agent called her and asked why her open house had no signs and why the lights were off in the home.
Susan was in the wrong home. The home she was supposed to hold the open house at, had the same home number but was several streets over. She prepped and held an open house for a home that wasn’t even on the market.
Open houses can be useful tools for generating quality leads for real estate agents, however, open houses can also go horribly wrong if certain precautions are not taken.
In July 2016, Realtor.com published an article entitled “Realtors Reveal: 4 Unbelievable Open House Horror Stories”. One of those horror stories details a story about a previous apartment resident who had died of old age and then remained there for two months before being discovered. While the real estate agent had planned to tactfully share this information, a curious neighbor’s actions prohibited the real estate agent from the tactful delivery.
While not every story is so shocking, every real estate agent who has held multiple open houses will have a story or two to share with you about an open house gone wrong.
One of the most prevalent open house incidents is theft: holding an open house gives anyone access to the home and the seller’s belongings. Thieves may attend the open house intending to steal valuable possessions including electronics, cash, and jewelry. Thieves may also use the open house as an opportunity to gather information for a future break-in.
Another item that thieves are taking from open houses are prescription drugs. Various associations across the country have issued publications that point to the importance of encouraging sellers to securely lock-up all prescription drugs to keep those drugs out of the
hands of users.
Despite the risk of theft, real estate agents and sellers can take steps to protect the valuables of the seller. Real estate agents should encourage sellers to remove or securely store all valuables and should remind sellers that hiding valuables is not always the best course of action – those items need to be locked up in a space that cannot be accessed by others.
Furthermore, if a real estate agent determines that a particular open house will be very busy, the real estate agent should reach out to assistants or other agents and request that they also attend the open house: there’s power in numbers and more eyes on the seller’s belongings during the open house.
Ultimately, the open house can be an effective way to sell a home, but each open house should be conducted with caution.