More sellers being hit by dummy buyers.
Article originally published AUGUST 25, 2005 –Reviewed and approved.
By Neil Jenman
The only surprising thing about Open House theft is the surprise of owners when they get robbed. The second surprise is when owners realise they are not covered under their insurance policy.
Anyone who thought about it for more than a few moments would never lay open their house to all-comers with just a real estate agent for security.
But people are doing it weekend after weekend and the catalogue to thefts is growing.
The latest to make headlines is a $36,000 sting in Melbourne. The thieves did what Open House robbers always do: they posed as buyers and accepted the open invitation to wander through a Sandringham house and help themselves. As one newspaper commented, they turned the Open House into Open Slather. They took necklaces, bracelets and watches, and the agents on duty noticed nothing.
Police suspect the same crooks are responsible for Open House thefts in other parts of Melbourne, including Flemington, Chelsea, and Hampton.
There’s nothing new in any of this. For years thieves have been using the Open Invitation of the Open House system. For years police have been warning the public. And for years the real estate institutes have been failing to warn the public or take action to alleviate the dangers.
Late last year police in Queensland issued a public warning after laying 151 charges against a man who stole from luxury homes in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, and the Sunshine Coast – netting cash, jewellery and other valuables worth $131,000.
The REIQ had a predictable response: it warned its agents but not the public. Following the recent thefts in Melbourne, the REIV responded by sending emails to agents alerting them to the threat of thefts during Open Houses – but, again, no such warning for the public.
The institute’s failure to alert the public to the dangers of Open House theft springs from vested interest. Agents love the Open House and they don’t want to spook owners by telling them the truth.
Rather, agents continue to tell owners that Open Homes are the best way to locate buyers.
The truth is they are a mechanism used by lazy agents who don’t care about their clients. Agents will not only tell owners that Open Homes are the best way, they will convince owners that Open Homes work best if the owners aren’t present.
This serves the interests of agents because they don’t want owners around to hear them talk down the value of the home to prospective buyers, or to see how lax agency security is.
Most agents have only one salesperson at an Open Home, usually stationed at the front entrance to gets the names and phone numbers of some of the people who come in. There’s no one in the home policing the behaviour of the tyre-kickers, tourists and thieves who are wandering through their clients’ bedrooms and living spaces.
If homeowners bow to agency pressure and have Open Homes, they be present to watch over their own possessions.
They can’t trust typical agents to do the job for them.
PLEASE NOTE: Our focus is upon helping consumers. Abuse from agents on our web site or Facebook page will be deleted, ignored or well publicised – it depends on our mood.
But one thing will never vary: We will never stop doing what we love most – helping polite and honest consumers get the best deal possible in real estate. And, of course, if any agents are serious about taking care of consumers, we’ll help you too. Thank you.