My real estate salesperson wants to host an open house in my home, but I’m undecided. What happens if something gets broken or stolen?

One of the most important pieces of advice the Real Estate Council of Ontario provides to consumers is: “you own the process.” It’s your home for sale, so the decision is entirely yours to make.

Your salesperson is a knowledgeable resource, and they may believe that hosting an open house could be a useful tactic for marketing your home to interested buyers. Since you’re on the fence about going forward with an open house, it might be worth sitting down with your salesperson to discuss safety protocols and ask how they will run the event. Make sure you’re on the same page and your concerns are addressed. I know I found it unnerving to have folks walking through my home, but my salesperson helped me through that.

The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) regulates the conduct of real estate salespeople, brokers and brokerages. We require a registered salesperson to be present during a showing, and we recommend having a salesperson accompany visitors at all times when they visit your home. You could ask your representative to have a second registered salesperson help out that day by greeting visitors at the door, requesting they provide contact information and personal identification, and then asking them to wait in the hallway until your representative is available to show them the property.

Requiring visitors to show a form of photo identification will likely deter any potential thieves or trouble-makers because your salesperson will have a list of visitors that can be handed over to the police. In the event that a visitor breaks a valuable item, you’ll have their contact information if you feel the need to take legal action.

Should you decide to give your salesperson the green light to host an open house, I strongly recommend removing or locking up any items with a sentimental or monetary value (these may include family photos, jewelry, antiques, portable data storage devices, portable electronics and prescription medications), and either securing or destroying old bills, bank statements, credit card receipts, passports and any other documents that could be used by a criminal who specializes in identity theft. And if you have a desktop computer that isn’t easily transportable, you would be well advised to secure it with password protection and turn it off before any visitors arrive.

If you’re still unsure about allowing the public into your home even after discussing safety protocols with your salesperson, you could ask them to host an “agents only” open house and restrict admittance to registered real estate salespeople, or show your home only by appointment. Work with your brokerage to find the best option that works for you.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at

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