Article originally published on JULY 12, 2003 – Reviewed and approved.
By Neil Jenman
Police, insurance companies and consumer groups warn of the dangers.
Open inspections have been an open secret among burglars for years. They know that one of the best ways to case homes for future robberies is to turn up at an open inspection of a home for sale, check the merchandise, check the security and, in many cases, check the living habits of the owners.
Armed with this knowledge, the thieves return later and rob the homes. Simple and fast.
It’s common sense that homes offered for public open-for-inspection are at risk of being robbed. Unfortunately for homeowners, when it comes to real estate, common sense is not common.
For years agents have denied the dangers of open-for-inspections. At the same time most have refused to accept responsibility. If a home is robbed following an open-for-inspection, the agents seem harder to find than the burglars.
It seems, however, that the attitude towards open-for-inspections is changing as more homesellers realise the dangers. The growing chorus from robbery victims is having an effect. Warnings have again been issued this month by both the police and a major insurance company telling sellers to beware of open-for-inspections or a visual tour of their home on the Internet.
Detective Sgt Garry James of Castle Hill police in Sydney reported that a home which had been featured on the Internet was robbed of items valued at about $150,000.
NRMA Insurance has warned that thieves can learn the layouts of homes via the Internet and open inspections. Nola Watson, the NRMA’s head of Fraud and Security Risk provided a list of tips for homesellers. These include keeping valuables out of sight and making sure the agent keeps an accurate record of people who inspect a home. She warned that agents should check the ID of all people who inspect a home.
But in the tricky world of real estate, few agents ask for ID when people inspect a home. They don’t care who comes through, the more the better.
It is well known, behind-the-scenes in real estate, that open-for-inspections are not done so much to sell homes as they are to promote agents. Agents find new sellers and buyers who visit the homes.
Open-for-inspections are also a “conditioning” method, a means by which agents persuade sellers to reduce their prices. “The more people who come through, the easier it is for us to get the sellers to sell at a lower price,” the real estate saying goes.
Yes, but who are these people? Sticky-beaks? Neighbours? Future leads for the agent? Or worst of all, unsavoury types casing the home for a robbery?
It is almost impossible to have a safe open-for-inspection.
The best advice for homesellers is to reject open-inspections.
The only people who should be allowed to inspect a home should be those who have been qualified as buyers and who have produced legitimate identification.
As the owner of the home you have rights. Stand up for yourself.
Close the door to people you don’t know.
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.