What You May Not Know
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OPEN HOUSE ALERT! ~ Always remember safety first - try to work the buddy system, or have the seller stay somewhere in the house with the agent during the open house.
Be sure you and your valuables are safe when your agent conducts an open house. Personal items must be removed or stored for safekeeping. For the past several years, agents nationwide have been advised against holding open houses unless the open houses are conducted by more than one agent and/or the seller stays in the property at the time of the open house. Your agent cannot be held responsible if items go missing from your home, and should have a separate disclaimer signed by the homeowner, to this effect.
You will want to insist that the agent holding your house open keeps good records of who has been in attendance. Often lookers with sign in with a phony name and or telephone number, and now in current times phony email addresses as well. There is no real way to be sure that true information has been given. Some people will simply refuse to sign in, and/or tell your agent that they are already working with an agent. A decision has to be made on the spot whether or not to let lookers into your home without signing in. If the owner is home and feels comfortable, perhaps permission will be given; failing that when a member of the public refuses to identify themselves, it can be a red flag, but not always. So a judgment call must be made by all concerned as to how to handle this situation. In some areas license plate numbers are taken down, in particular if an agent feels uncomfortable. Agents working alone should “never” hold a vacant house open. It is just too dangerous. There must be a buddy system in place for safety reasons.
Now that privacy laws are in place and structured in such a way as to insist that one visitor may not see the old-style “list” of visitors to the subject property, as to who preceded them, each visitor must have his/her own private page available to sign in so as to keep the information confidential. Some visitors do not want the seller to know they were there. Again, this is a judgment call as to whether they are permitted to enter the premises. Perhaps it could be suggested to them to book a private showing time with their own agent, or at another time with the listing agent in order to preserve their anonymity.
The public in general and the homeowner in particular is typically not made aware that the purpose of holding an open house is so that the agent conducting the open house can sell some house, located some where, to a prospective buyer who appears at the open house. Not always but mostly, folks who visit open houses will put their own homes on the market sometime during the upcoming year, and are often just checking out the local properties for sale to compare to their own, but they may in fact be checking for a relative or friend who wants to move into the area. This is a good thing and occasionally may produce a buyer for your property.
Open houses are a way for the agent to collect names of possible sellers in the community, make personal contact with them, and "with their permission", follow up to see exactly what the would-be buyer is looking to buy somewhere down the road, and/or if he/she has a property that will be going on the market, the agent is expected to offer his/her services to the attendees when they are ready to sell. Do not be upset if your home does not sell from the open house, and do not be upset if you hear your agent describing other local properties for sale that may be more suitable to the buyers. This in no way is meant to denigrate the value of your specific property. That is part of the reason or the design for holding open houses – so the agent can make contact with other members of the public in an effort to develop long-term relationships with other would-be clientele. Although it is wonderful if your home sells from an open house, it so very rarely does happen in real life situations, so do not have unrealistic expectations.
If your home is off the beaten path, safety becomes an even more dominant issue. Make sure your home and your agent are protected by invoking all sorts of procedures. This is as much your responsibility as it is your agents’.
If the agent conducting the open house at your home is good at developing rapport with the public, the agent will often acquire multiple contacts for their personal database, and eventually will list or sell property belonging to the lookers or find a house for them to buy when they are not interested in buying your house. It is a rare occasion indeed when the subject property being held open actually sells from an open house. Holding open houses is a great method of marketing for an agent, because signs are posted at nearby intersections and sometimes ads are run in local papers inviting the public to attend. It is a wonderful method of doing business enabling the agent to acquire more contacts. Do not expect your property to sell from an open house. If it does, it is a bonus for you as the owners, as well as a bonus for the listing agent, who then has acquired a buyer for their own listing.
Commonly referred to as double-ending the listing, having the listing agent sell their own listing is legal locally (but is forbidden in some jurisdictions), and is called dual agency. However, it must be disclosed to all parties to the contract, exactly who is representing whom, and how. You as the owner must "sign off" as permitting this dual agency, otherwise the buyer must agree to non-representation and be a Customer instead of a Client, if you insist on retaining single agency representation.
The would-be buyer always has the right to sign on with their own agent, if they prefer to have official representation. In today's environment a buyer really does need his/her own agent, ideally. That way no secrets are revealed that you have shared with your agent, information that is no business for the buyer to know that may in fact impact the selling price of your property. The representation contract sits with you, as the owner of the listed property. By agreeing to permit the agent to practice dual agency, the representation is then to both parties. Ask your agent to explain it to you in detail. It is important for you to understand. Every agent is required to know, to understand, and to have the appropriate disclosures signed by you, the owner(s), if and when a buyer appears at an open house and does decide to buy the subject property.
Different than when a builder permits the public to wander through model homes unescorted, and with no Board representative agent in attendance with the buyer, an individual's private residence is just that, and the property must be treated with the utmost respect and care. People should never be at liberty to wander around your property at will, unescorted by the agent. Ideally one set of lookers at one time only, should be permitted to tour the rooms, and the public must be instructed that they need to “stay together with the agent”, and the others should be invited to wait patiently until the agent is finished with the tour. If any real interest is there, the others will wait, or book an official appointment to view, privately with the agent or their own agent. It is also important that your agent be safe and respected. Safety first MUST be practiced at all times.
Agents have been murdered on site at open houses, many agents have been raped; others have had major bodily harm done to them. One agent in Toronto had her throat slit while showing prospective buyers through a property and is currently suing the court system, since the perpetrator was out on parole.
Often times attendees at open houses are interested in using the washroom, then make off with prescription drugs or over the counter drugs. Others appear in pairs, and while one diverts the attention of the agent, the other steals jewelry or other personal effects. Protect your home and your valuables at all times while your home is open for the public to view, even when an appointment is booked for the purpose of viewing by a buyer.
Agents regularly receive information such as this recently posted one below, through the local real estate Board:
WARNING! Theft from Agent's Purses at Open Houses
Two Member agents have reported that they have had money stolen from their purses during open houses. Both agents describe the same couple. The couple starts viewing the home with the agent and then the wife stays, while the husband wanders off. They show plenty of interest on the property and then they leave.
The Couple is described as White (European)
MALE: is 6'4 inches tall, heavyset with a brush cut
FEMALE: is 5'5 heavyset with long brown hair
VEHICLE: small SUV, Black, dark gray or dark blue in color.
Please do not take matters into your own hands.
Call the Peel Regional Police at 905-453-3311
Member ALERT - Bhupinder Singh SAHOTA
TREB has received information from the Toronto Police about a man who
has a history of being involved in theft from female salespeople who work
alone. He is currently being sought by the Toronto Police for breaching
conditions of his discharge from Toronto East Detention Centre. Members are
asked to notify all female salespeople of this situation. This person is
possible in the Collingwood and Orangeville area.
SAHOTA, Bhupinder Singh 1960.05.09
Desc: Male, Brown Skin, Brown hair, 6'2", 260lbs
When last seen he had 2 days growth of beard
If you have any contact with this male please notify
Toronto Police 42 Division. Det. McQueen 7365 at (416) 808-4200.
For more information go to the Police
Bhupinder Singh Sahota, 39, has 56 convictions with
crimes in almost every
province and hasn't been out of jail for longer than two weeks at a time
since 1986, an Immigration and Refugee Board said in its deportation
decision released yesterday. ... Last July, police said, Sahota posed as a
businessman looking for a home and called a female [real estate] agent to
pick him up at Pearson Airport. When she stepped from her car, Sahota jumped
in and drove off. Police said Sahota also stole money from agents when they
were showing him houses or speaking with them in their offices. In July,
1990, Sahota was convicted of defrauding an auto dealership of 20 cars after
issuing a stolen cheque for $200,000 as a down payment. In December ,1994,
Sahota was jailed for robbing a male broker of his car and cell phone. Using
cheques stolen from the agent's car, Sahota fraudulently signed purchase
agreements on two houses worth $400,000 and $600,000." (Toronto Sun,
November 4, 1999)
Wed Sep 4 17:10:07 2002 CHARGES LAID IN REALTOR ATTACK
CALGARY POLICE SERVICE NEWS RELEASE The Calgary Police Service has laid
charges in connection with the attack on a Calgary realtor August 31.
Bhupinder Singh SAHOTA, 42, is charged with one count each of robbery,
unlawful confinement, uttering threats and impersonation. No court date has
yet been set. The charges were laid today in Edmonton while SAHOTA was in
custody at the Edmonton Remand Centre on outstanding immigration warrants.
A colleague just passed along this information. Question: WHY was this agent alone in the house? Naturally this could have happened at a regular showing appointment as well. Agents, men and women alike, all need to be cautious when working with/for the public. This message is on our site only as a heads' up to owners and to colleagues who may read the web page article associated with Open Houses. He writes:
Yet another horror story. This information was posted
on our MLS this morning:
ATTENTION - WARNING! – We received information from a member regarding an
attempted rape last Sunday afternoon at an open house in the Concord area. The
alleged rapist was described as a white male in his mid-40’s, pointy nose,
average build, wearing a golf hat. He indicated he was an investor looking for
a fixer upper and proceeded to walk through the home. He was in the back part
of the house for some time, enough to cause the agent some concern, and when he
returned to where she was is when the rape attempt occurred. If anyone has any
additional information, they should contact the Concord Police Department
(Officer Mike Warnock) at 925-603-5822, and reference case #0517427
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