Illinois Concealed Carry and Its Effect on the Real Estate Market

According to a Chicago Tribune article on March 3, 2014, several real estate companies in Illinois are having homeowners fill out forms to decide whether they will allow guns inside of their homes during showings.  If the homeowner checks the no box, a sign will be posted in the front yard of the home alerting prospective buyers there are no guns allowed on the property.  This rule only applies to the showing of the homes and not what buyers are allowed to do after purchase.  These new rules are being implemented at agencies across the state due to the passage of the concealed carry law in Illinois. The concern is for the safety of the agent while showing homes.  Many agents like the idea of having the signs in the yards of the homes, however some are not too sure it will be effective.  Michael Golden, the founder of @Properties in Chicago, thinks the idea is a good one, but enforcing it is another problem.  Other agents and real estate companies share the same sentiment as Mr. Golden agreeing that there is no real way to enforce the rule short of patting down prospective buyers.

Even though many other businesses have started to put the “no gun” signage in their windows, it raises a different problem in the real estate arena.  A big concern among agents is running away potential buyers who might be conservatives and feel offended by the signs.  The end goal is to sell the home and it might not be worth the risk to insult a potential buyer before they even set foot inside the property.  This will definitely put the homeowners who chose to have the signage on their property at a disadvantage. 

While I agree with the reasoning behind implementing this policy, I do not believe it will be effective.  Yes, a real estate agent's safety while showing homes is of the utmost importance, but if someone intends to do harm they will do it regardless of a sign.  One agent in the article brought up this very point.  You don’t want to risk deterring potential buyers by posting a sign that is definitely not going to deter a criminal.  In the comments below the article, one man stated while he was viewing a home a sketchy man walked in and was staring down the real estate agent waiting on him to leave.  In fear that he might do her harm, the agent asked the commenter to stay and after a stand off for about 15 minutes he had to walk her to her car.  The sketchy man did not leave until she pulled off and it was clear he was not there to view the home. 

I focused on that comment in particular because it raised a good point that an agent’s safety is at risk regardless of concealed carry.  They show homes everyday to complete strangers having no idea what intent or ulterior motive they may have.  There are many violent crimes that occur without weapons and a “no gun” sign will not save you from those crimes.  Also, hanging a sign will not stop people from bringing in their guns during the showings.  For this policy to really be effective the agents would have to wand potential buyers or send them through metal detectors, which I’m sure is something they do not want to do.  Not to mention that they are not qualified to handle an un-cooperative buyer.  Now it becomes a matter of cost, will companies resort to these methods and hire security to enforce them at the properties? Sounds a bit extreme, right?

Overall, the intent behind the policy is great but the real estate market is far too consumer friendly to take the risk and set these boundaries.  The main goal is to sell homes and not insult the buyers. I am not saying that all buyers would be offended by the signage, in fact it might make some more at ease.  I am simply saying that I do not think it is worth the risk of insulting someone who might very well have the ability to purchase the home.  This is still a very new concept but I am curious to see how many real estate companies adopt this policy and how many homeowners opt to have the “no gun” signage placed in front of their homes.