Open House Burglaries: Who Is To Blame?

  • July 13th 2010

by Mark Wellborn

Back in October 2009, two men, posing as father and son, were visiting open houses in the DC area and burglarizing the homes. One of the men would distract the real estate agent while the other would go in search of jewelry and cash.

The duo was eventually caught, but the incident did bring to light an unfortunate (albeit rare) consequence that can result from having your home held open.

The issue of open house burglaries was recently revisited by WSJ’s June Fletcher who looked at the question of who should be held responsible if valuables are stolen from a property during an open house. In short, she says blame the criminals, not your real estate agent.

“[A real estate agent’s] job is to sell your home, not act as a security guard. Douglas Trokie, a White Plains, N.Y., attorney, says listing agreements typically contain clauses that protect agents holding open homes from liability in the case of theft, and that a court would likely only find an agent responsible if she actually saw someone pilfering your purses and did nothing to stop them.”

While most owners would likely not blame the agent, a simple precaution can be taken to avoid this situation: lock up your valuables. UrbanTurf has been surprised by the number of small items (iPods, jewelry) that are left in rooms at some of the open houses we have visited.

See other articles related to: open houses, the wall street journal

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/open_house_burglaries_who_is_to_blame/2259.

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