Privacy and security when it comes to open homes

by Alistair Helm in

Images courtesy of Ross Brader

Images courtesy of Ross Brader

Judging by the piles of jandels and other assorted footwear outside the entrance to open homes, we as a nation are addicted to the open home shuffle. That weekend tour of local properties to see just what the neighbours have been up to and to get a view of what we might buy if we won this week’s Lotto.

However the question needs to be asked as to the issues of security and privacy for people’s property during an open home.

This issue was brought to my attention by a real estate agent that sent me an email on the subject. Their concern was the extent to which people provided false details at the time of registering at the door and whether a more rigorous process should be employed to ensure security, such as a photo ID. I certainly felt the subject was worthy of discussion so here is my perspective and I welcome readers to post any comments to share in the discussion.

Real estate agents have a responsibility for the care and security of the property they are opening up for viewing. However, how many times do you see an open home, particularly in Auckland these days, where the agent is fully occupied just taking registration details, leaving little ability to ensure that security of objects in the property are safeguarded.

Seen from an agent perspective open homes are vital to their profile – it is akin to a market stall where agents can engage with potential clients, showcase the property of their client and seek out potential buyers – certainly, but equally important the ability to prospect for new clients for whom they can act as a vendors agent in the future. This is especially true as many open-home visitors are at an early stage of house hunting and may not have their property on the market at the time.

Seen from the vendors perspective an open home is a market stall for their property – placing it literally “wide-open” for all to inspect. The question is; would genuine prospective buyers be put off by an by-appointment process to view a property?

As to the behaviour of visitors providing false contact details, I guess the root cause is the fear of the ‘call-back’ by the agent. Why the fear though? Agents are salespeople, they have a vital role to play in showcasing the property and then following up to ascertain interest. The fact is property purchase (or seen from the perspective of vendors – property sales) requires a steady and consistent level of follow up and continual prodding to bring buyers to the ‘party’ – left to their own devices buyers can be somewhat reluctant and hang back.

The agents’ call-back in my view would seem to be an acceptable trade for the benefits of viewing a property and to ensure all parties are treated with respect (buyers, sellers, agents) as well as to safeguard people and property.  I personally would hope all open-home visitors provide valid contact details.

Security Guard iStock_000005543915XSmall.jpg

I hope that the trust that is inherent in the act of holding an open home, is not gradually undermined by attendees who choose to provide false details – it would be unfortunate to the see the practice descend to the level where burly security guards were employed to check ID’s at the door!