Safety Alert: Theft Reported at Vacant Homes For Sale

Albuquerque and Valencia County are seeing a disturbing trend at vacant properties for sale.  Instead of attracting homebuyers, the empty homes are attracting criminals.  

Recent reports of vacant home thefts stated that an individual or individuals destroyed the lockbox to retrieve key(s) to gain access to the home. In most cases appliances are being stolen. Vacant properties are very susceptible to property damage and criminal activity.  That's why it's important to not only understand these dangers but to take immediate steps to prevent them.

To help prevent vandalism of your seller's vacant property, encourage your seller to keep in mind the 5 tips below.

  1. Hire a caretaker for the property until it sells.
  2. Ask a trusted neighbor to park his/her car in the driveway.
  3. Install motion-sensor lights and set the interior lights to variable timers.
  4. Ask relatives, friends, or neighbors to look after the property while it's vacant.  This includes collecting mail and regularly inspecting the home for damage.
  5. Ensure the property has the proper insurance coverage.  Insurance coverage can lapse if the home is vacant for more than 30 days.

In the event that the lockbox is stolen from your seller's vacant property, please follow the steps below.

  • Change the locks on the property immediately.
  • File a report with the Police Department.
  • Contact GAAR to report your lockbox stolen.

Another safety tip is regarding the Marketing comments on listings in SWMLS. Since the Public Remarks of a listing are visible to anyone online who views that listing it is strongly suggested NOT to include any Showing Instruction or notes about the home being vacant in this section of the listing. Agent Only or LO/SO remarks are confidential remarks to mention that a home is vacant. On any given day there are at least 3-5 listings in the MLS that have the word "vacant" in the Marketing Remarks section and make it easy for a thief to find which homes in a neighborhood are not occupied.