Best Ways to Prevent Thefts at Open Houses

In the wake of some recently reported thefts that have occurred during open houses in Santa Clara County, we would like to remind all our members to stay vigilant when putting on an open house. Individuals have been attending open houses where they pose as potential buyers. While in the home, they are targeting wallets, purses, jewelry, and other small items.

Since holding an open house will expose you to people that you’ve never met before, it is critical that you follow all possible safety precautions. Even a buyer that seems legitimate could quickly decide to steal a small item on a whim. We encourage you to read NAR’s blog post on 10 tips for holding a safe open house and watch this video on open house safety.

SCCAOR reached out to local Brokers to see what tips they offer to their agents when it comes to preventing theft at an open house. The following information comes from Doug Goss, Broker Associate of Keller Williams Bay Area Estates:

What advice and/or training do you provide to agents in regards to open houses?

“The C.A.R. Residential Listing Agreement Paragraph 10 and Seller’s Advisory Paragraph 4C address Security Precautions. We recommend that Agents go over these paragraphs in detail with the Seller so they understand there is risk with people coming through the home during showings or open house and to make sure all valuables are put away and secured. This includes, cash, jewelry, prescription drugs, firearms, cell phones, laptops/tablets and other valuables. I have also added expensive perfume to the list as I had a client in Willow Glen last year who had a bottle of expensive perfume stolen from the top of her bedroom dresser during an Open House.”

What tips do you have for providing a high level of service and protecting the homeowner’s assets?

Prior to an Open House, take a look around the property to make sure nothing has been left out that may be tempting for someone to walk away with. If you do find something, place in a drawer for safe keeping and let the Seller know where you placed it or replace when you are finished. Also, on large properties or multi-story properties, we recommend having assistance with the Open House. Many Lenders love to co-host Open Houses with Agents so they can pre-qualify potential Buyers and pick up business. It provides another set of eyes and ears to keep track of visitors when they are in different areas of the property. Also, when you are finished with an Open House, go back and double check ALL windows and doors. I have heard of thieves going through Open Houses and unlocking windows and doors so they can come back after the Open House and gain access.

Any other information that you can share?

Always let somebody know where you are holding Open House. If you are holding Open House in a remote area, always have someone co-host with you. Some areas have limited cell access and could be very risky. Also, when you are hosting an Open House, make sure you secure your own valuables while at the Open House. Do not leave your purse, briefcase, cell phone or laptop out in the open. While you are showing the home to a potential Buyer, a thief could easily take these items (or wallet, cash, credit cards out of a purse) and walk out with them.