True story. Many details have been left out!
I was working for a seller who was out of province. The house they had for sale had no one living in it. They did however have the house partially staged with their own items and had left behind some things with sentimental value as well.
When I took the listing, I put up a secure lock box so that no one but a REALTOR would be able to access the lockbox. As a matter of fact, I can scan that lockbox and see who the last ten agents were that showed the property. All agents that show a listing must first schedule an appointment through the listing agent. I am very opposed to lockboxes where one can turn numbers like on a bike chain. They seem unsafe to me. I have gone to showings where those lockboxes have not had the numbers scrambled and anyone could have had access to the keys! My fear is that a buyer would be able to watch and see what the code is and return to get the key at a later time. (If your house is listed and the agent has put up an unsecured lockbox, ask them to exchange it with a secure lockbox. If your agent is asking you to leave the door open for a showing, please ask them to put up a secure lock box! It is the responsibility of a listing agent to make the key accessible for other agents and keep it safe. To leave the door open is irresponsible and puts the property at risk!) This property had a double detached garage which was locked by a padlock. The key to the padlock was inside of the house.
On with my story: One day, I had an agent call to schedule a showing. I had driven by the property just a few days before and saw that the driveway was covered in deep snow. I asked the seller to have someone clear the drive for the showing and postponed the showing for the following week. The driveway was never cleared. The agent that showed the property trampled through the deep snow to show the house. After the showing, he called me to notify me that there had been vandalism at the property. The padlock on the garage had been cut with a tool and the shop had the Doorway tampered with as well! I immediately called the seller and let them know!
Nineteen days later, I got a call from the seller. They were livid! They informed me that something had been stolen from inside the house! Of course, the item that was stolen had a huge sentimental value for personal reasons. I still cannot comprehend how anyone can have so little regard for the property of another person! It is shameful to take something from someone else!
What I heard next, was a probable theory from the perspective of the seller. Their theory was that an agent had booked a showing, and that the person who had seen the house had opened the front door lock so that they could return later and steal the item. They demanded to know who the last agent was that showed the house. I spoke with the last agent who showed the house and the item(which was very large and noticeable) was not in the house when he showed it. I let them know that the last agent to show the house before the theft, had been ME. I was then told that they expected me, and my insurance, to reimburse them for their loss as they thought it was my fault that the item was stolen. My thought was, I am not Jesus. I am not required to pay for the sins of a thief! I didn’t say that, but it is what I was thinking!
I had two showing requests by two other agents that had buyers for the property in the week that followed. I called the seller to ask if they wanted me to allow the showings. I also suggested that they should have the RCMP do an investigation. I was told that I could not allow the showings and that they were done with me! I was informed that they would be transferring the listing to another agent. Once again, I was being addressed about getting them money. The listing was transferred. I let the new agent know that there were two agents with buyers waiting to show the property. Sometimes, when there are several interested parties, there are competing offers and the seller gets more money. I was told by one of those agents, that they had not been allowed to show the property because there was already an accepted offer on it. Indeed, one of the agents who requested a showing while the listing was with me, had written an offer that was accepted. I lost that paycheck of course and the countless dollars I spent marketing the property.
So, that’s how I got fired! I was accused of being responsible for a theft that happened on one of my listings! I was let go by a seller, not by my broker.
It is known by the locals, that there has been a group of people who have been taking advantage of vacant properties to have a place to party. They are targeting vacation homes and vacant homes.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO LEAVE YOUR PROPERTY VACANT:
1. Find out from your insurance how often you need someone to check up on your house in your absence, in order for your insurance to be valid. Then arrange for someone to check up regularly. You may want to consider getting someone to house sit.
2. Arrange for someone to clear your driveway and leave tire tracks in the snow or have the lawn mowed regularly. An unkept yard is like an invitation for a thief!
3. Remove heirlooms and valuables into safekeeping.
IF YOU EVER GET YOUR HOUSE BROKEN IN TO:
1. Call the RCMP and let them investigate!
2. Do not tamper with the evidence. Do not clean up until the RCMP have done an inspection! If you clean up the evidence it may be construed as interfering in a crime scene. I was told by someone who is involved in insurance that when evidence is tampered with, the insurance company could possibly charge the victim with fraud.
3. Let your neighbours know that you are gone and tell them what kind of vehicle will be coming to to the property to check on it. Ask them to watch for suspicious behaviour.
Tina Plett, Sutton Group-Kilkenny