Focus on Safety When Selling Your Home

    SELLER’S ARTICLES – FOR THE SMART CONSUMER

    Focus on Safety When Selling Your Home
    In today’s day and age, realtors have begun to show concern for the wellbeing and safety of their sellers.  This is not a new phenomenon. There have been a few isolated incidents where realtors have been hurt or threatened during showings and the home-selling process.  This growing concern does not end with the realtor, however.  There is now growing concern for the safety of the sellers themselves.  To protect yourself, carefully read this article, packed with important home-safety tips that can be applied at any time, and especially when your home is listed for sale publicly.

    16222154A public home listing could include a newspaper listing, a sign in the front yard, a realtor’s website and even the multiple listing service (MLS).  Almost all sellers will advertise their home in one or more of these ways, so it is important that you familiarize yourself with common safety practices.  While these techniques were originally developed to promote realtor safety, they can be of great value for every homeowner.

    You probably already know that when you sell your home, it suddenly becomes accessible to strangers from all walks of life.  The idea of having people you don’t know walking through your home and looking in your closets is probably daunting – and you are definitely not the first seller to feel that way.  Most of the people who are looking at homes will never do anything to put you in jeopardy and are quite harmless.  Unfortunately, all it takes is one dishonest person to make your worst fears become reality.  Always expect the best, but be prepared for the worst by implementing the security measures described here.

    One of the best things that you can do to protect your safety and belongings is to sell you home through a certified realtor.  “For Sale by Owner” is an attractive technique and has many benefits, but when safety is a concern, having a realtor present during showings and open houses is an added measure of security that many home sellers prefer.  Having another person watch out for your interests reduces the chance of theft or damage when those strangers are touring your home.  Someone with the criminal intent of burglarizing your home at a later date could even be walking through your home and looking for security holes that could allow access to your home while you are away or sleeping.

    When working with a realtor, mention that safety and protection of your assets is important so that your safety concerns can be addressed in the realtor’s proposal for advertising and showing your home to potential buyers.

    Insist that everyone who views your home signs in on the provided sheet with at least a name and telephone number.  As an additional security measure, you could even record visitors’ license plate number or ask to see a form of photo identification before allowing potential buyers to enter your home…

    Ways to Protect yourself

    • Although it has become common practice to leave an outgoing answering-machine message stating that you are unavailable to answer the phone, many people still record messages that tell callers that no one is home to answer the call.  Regardless of whether you answer calls when you are at home, it is wise to leave a generic message that you are unavailable.  Security experts also recommend using a standard outgoing message or one that includes your phone number.  Never mention your children’s names in your outgoing message. If you have listed your home for sale, or if you plan to do so in the near future, paying attention to this small detail can provide added safety and security.
    • When scheduling an appointment for someone – even a realtor – to come and see your home, get his or her full name and telephone number and then return the call to verify the number prior to allowing that person into your home.  While this may seem unimportant, it is critical that you know exactly who will be in your home at any given time.
    • Common sense has probably already told you that when your home is for sale, all loose valuables should be removed before the home is opened to potential buyers.  Expensive furnishings are unlikely to disappear, but jewelry, car keys, credit cards, cash and other small valuable objects are likely to turn up missing. Sometimes these smaller items will not be missed until several potential buyers have been inside your home, so you will not know who took them. Prescription medications are a valuable item that you probably won’t be able to remove from your home. If you can carry your medications with you, it is probably a good idea. If not, then you might want to consider a small safe in which you can store these and other small items.
    • Sometimes sellers with a lot of valuables that cannot be removed will hire security personnel, at least during their open houses.  This gives the owner and the realtor the freedom to relax and show the home without watching every move of every single visitor.
    • Follow your realtor’s lead.  Realtors place a visitor sign-in sheet next to the brochures for many reasons.  One obvious reason is so that they can develop the list of potential clients.  But this list is also an extremely useful security measure for the seller.  Insist that everyone who views your home signs in on the provided sheet with at least a name and telephone number.  As an additional security measure, you could even record visitors’ license plate number or ask to see a form of photo identification before allowing potential buyers to enter your home.  This is an uncommon practice and some buyers may be put off by these measures, but when you explain why you are requesting the information, most potential buyers will understand and comply.  If you feel the need to justify your information-collection to the potential buyers, tell them that you feel it is necessary to know who is being granted access to detailed information about your home in order to protect your interests.  An honest buyer will accept this. If there is a dishonest person in the mix, he or she will realize how cautious you are and probably not consider engaging in any criminal activity in your home.
    • Realtors have devised a way to ensure that all visitors enter and exit through the same door every time (granted, this may not include trips to the backyard).  The reason for using the most visible door as the main entrance is so that neighbors can spot potential problems. It also allows you, as the owner, to have access to all other exits should there ever be a need to get out of the home quickly.
    • When potential buyers are admiring your home, you have many things to remember.  First, never put yourself in a situation where you are alone in a room with a buyer. Always have an escape route or remain standing in the hallway.  Also, never let potential buyers out of your sight.  Allow them to walk freely through the home, but stay close behind in order to see where they are at all times.

    By following the advice above, the process of selling your home will be a safer experience for you, your family and your realtor.  Paying attention to little details at the beginning can increase your safety in the long run.

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