Psycho Buyers and Open House Nightmares

Selling a house is tough no matter what kind of market you’re in “but according to some Bay Area real estate agents, the shifting market is bringing out more wacko buyers”sfgate.

For me the most traumatizing aspect of selling a house is having total strangers traipsing though it daily. And just when you’re ready to relax after a long week at work, you have to clean up and clear out for the Open House on Sunday. During one such open house at the last place I sold, 4 pairs of my unmentionables went missing (yes 4!). Who does that? I later found out that some pervert had been going from open house to open house looting ladies lingerie among other things. Lovely!

Just recently a duo that could be the Thelma and Louis of real estate in New York got busted for stealing $70K worth of stuff from a Manhattan penthouse. Real estate pros will tell you stealing is nothing new. If I sell another home I’m thinking setting up one of those “Nanny Cam’s” wouldn’t be a bad idea. The first thing every seller should do is to remove all valuables before putting the house on the market. Some crooks have used open houses to case the joint and then come back later to burgle.


I was trading real estate horror stories with some friends last week and there really is some creepy stuff going on out there. In Austin, Texas a woman selling her home was killed a few years ago after she let a man in who was posing as a prospective buyer and asked if she could show him the house because he had no agent. I know at least two female real estate agents that have been accosted by potential clients. And of course there’s the agent and his girlfriend having their fun in a vacant property.  Scarry stuff!  

  • Music

    Prospective buyers…not perspective…an d don’t forget about the Windermere agent who was murdered while showing a home about two years ago in Kirkland…Allowing strangers into your home is a huge risk and rarely results in someone buying that home at the open house…why do it??

  • Mat

    Of course, the sex was the topper — much worse than the murders… OMG panic!!1

  • Max

    This is an issue that comes up occasionally when selling through Redfin. I had a couple open houses and showed the place on other occasions to at least a few agent-less prospective buyers. It might be a good idea to formally give safety advice to your sellers (if you aren’t already).

    - I might add that I had a great experience selling with Redfin and highly recommend it!

  • Marie

    Mat – yes I see that I should have reversed the order of those sentances in the last paragraph, sounds silly.

  • marie.hagman

    Music – I’ve heard many people (and even agents) say that the open house is not about selling the house but more about the agent finding *prospective* clients ;)

    But then I’ve also bought a house after I saw it when open on a Sunday, and I also know several other people that have done the same and I have never worked with an agent that I met at an open, I always go based on referal (and I’ve worked with at least 4 agents over the last 5 years).

  • Music

    Seems to me that the only reasons agents hold open houses are to find new potential clients or as a convenience to other agents who may not take the time to show the property to their clients themselves.

    As a buyer I would never work with the Seller’s agent at an open house because I don’t believe one agent can or should even say he/she can represent both parties (do lawyers?).

    Thanks for the link to the article in SF re: high end property theft in SF and NY. I still would hope for a more secure way to allow strangers in to view open houses and agents to be safer in their business practices.

    Maybe if buyers going to open houses have an agent they could bring that agents card with them and leave it in the house along with signing a guest register?

    Hope they find the criminals responsible for the murder of the agents mentioned.