No unplanned, unscheduled showings
Don’t let anyone talk you into just letting them in because they drove by and just had to see it. Take their number and tell them you’ll contact them. Do not let them in the house to set that up either. If they really are interested in the house, they will understand your safety precautions and should have no problem with arranging a showing later. This achieves two things: you get their name and phone number and you have already placed a face to a name and phone number.
Some people go the extra step of asking to see ID. If someone calls to set up an appointment, ask for their name, phone number, and a description of their car. Call them back on the number they gave you, even if it is under the guise of confirming the showing time. This information is only useful if it is in the hands of a third party or in a different and accessible location and not just sitting on the kitchen counter. If you feel as though you’re being a rude, paranoid person, don’t. Your safety is most important!
These security measures also apply to people who identify themselves to you as real estate agents. Take their information and send them on their way. Look up the website of the brokerage and look at a photo of the agent. Making a fake business card only takes a printer!
For the most part, if you have someone visiting your property for reasons other than genuine interest in the property, they are after the small items which are easily stolen.
Whether you have a showing or an Open House, the same safety precautions apply. Remove and put away all small electronic devices, valuables, credit cards, cash, piggy banks, coin jars, all prescription medications, and or expensive supplements, or OTC meds. And, please, don’t just place them in a drawer or the medicine cabinet. Instead, keep your items hidden and in closed containers in closets behind other items, so that they present less of a quick target. Ensure that your personal mail is put away to avoid the potential hazard of identity theft. If you have valuable or cherished – easy to pocket – knick knacks, get a head start and start packing them up. It goes without saying that any kinds of weapons and firearms and ammunition should not be visible or easily accessed.
If you have a valuable collection of items showcased in your home, you are well advised to pack them up
securely and hide them before you begin showing the property and before you have photographs taken.
If possible, don’t be alone when having a showing.
It goes without saying, but having another person there with you is tremendously helpful. If you cannot have another person there, be on the phone with someone in the area when your visitors arrive and be overheard telling the person that you will call them back shortly as someone came to view the property. The visitor will know what someone is aware of their presence in your property and that you are expected to call back.
According to the security industry the main trouble can come from couples visiting a property and then splitting up, one talking to the seller while the other one just wants to visit another room again. The aim here however tends to be usually small theft. Fortunately, even then, this has been a relatively rare occurrence and this sort of thing can and does happen whether you’re going FSBO or the 7% route.
A big red flag!
Searching personal questions could just come from someone nosey and without a personal filter. However, be aware that answers to these questions can provide information about your routines, your schedules, number of people in the house, etc. For a burglar, this can be valuable information. Sidestep these questions and don’t answer, you are not required to provide personal information, this is after all, a business transaction, not a social call.
Don’t go there!
One thing real estate agents are taught is how to show a property while minimizing the chance of getting trapped, and these easy tips will be useful for the FSBO seller as well.
Never go into a room first, particularly one from which there is no exit other than that one door. Always let your visitor go in first, and remain near the door.
Many female agents will not personally go into a traditional basement or walk-up attics or any room without an escape route with their visitors, instead telling the visitor to go ahead and take a look. Again, the ‘you’re odd’ look is infinitely preferable than putting yourself in a position of vulnerability.
Trust your instincts!
You can do all kinds of preparation but at the end of the day, trusting your instincts goes a long way. If there is a little voice inside you saying that something is off, then listen to the voice and step out of the house. It’s far better to lose a few things than potentially jeopardize your safety. If you think this won’t happen if you’re listed with a real estate agent, think again: real estate agents will leave your house and step outside if they feel unsafe and or threatened. While these crimes are relatively rare, they certainly make for headlines.
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