LA Times ran a great article last Sunday targeted towards home sellers about not becoming a victim when showing homes. It resonated with me since I just talked about Open Houses and how some visitors refuse to sign in per real estate agent's request.
Bottom line is this... the home seller's safety, real estate agent's safety and the protection of your belongings and privacy is of utmost importance.
While most criminals will seek small items and anything they can fit into their pockets, sometimes these “buyers” are actually scoping the home for a future burglary. According to a safety expert who has worked with the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and other groups, first and foremost, people should trust their instincts, so if someone or something is making one uncomfortable, be extra alert and extremely careful.
If a potential buyer or unknown agent arrives at the house unexpectedly, the homeowner should tell him to call their agent to schedule an appointment. Also, Before allowing anyone to enter the house, all lights should be turned on and all blinds, shades, and curtains opened. Homes are safer for showing when someone outside can see inside.
As discussed previously, homeowners should remove all valuables, including jewelry, artwork, and electronic equipment before the scheduled open house. Additionally, money, mail, bank statements, credit cards and keys should never be kept lying around, or even in a drawer with easy access. Prescription drugs should be kept in locked cabinets, to prevent anyone from stealing them or using the information on the label.
Professional burglars often linger in rooms, looking for items they can dispose of quickly. They also search for ways to get in and out, scouting possible escape routes and checking for security devices. Couples up to no good often split up so one can check out the house and its belongings, while the other keeps the agent and/or seller occupied.
Here are some tips that LA Times has listed:
- Identify your visitors. Agents often insist that everyone sign a guest registry to show their control and professionalism. They also screen their clients by putting them through a pre-qualification process.
- Identify unknown agents too. It's easy for someone to print up fake business cards, so call the agent's office to make sure that the person is who he says he is. Never let an agent directly into your house. Instead, make that person open the lockbox your agent placed on your door to gain access. Non-agents won't be able to.
- Don't make an appointment with potential buyers unless they provide their names and phone numbers and you have called them back to verify the number.
- Beware of callers who knock on your door at strange hours, either late at night or early in the morning. No matter who they say they are, ask them to make an appointment at a more reasonable time. If someone says he can view your house only at this particular moment, don't believe him.
- Be mindful of someone who is asking unusual questions that have nothing to do with the house. Are you married or single? Do you live alone? What times does your spouse leave for work and return? What time do the kids come home from school?
See the full LA Times article here.