It is so seldom that we have any problems at all. This list isn’t to scare you or make you believe that selling your house is a dangerous thing. It’s just an unfortunate fact in this day and age that you can’t be as trusting as you might want to be. It always pays, even when your house is on the market, to put safety first. And please remember, your agent may give you different advice. This is just the advice I give my clients:
- Ask your agent to install an electronic lockbox. Even if you’re usually home when showings occur, ask the buyer’s agent to use the lockbox anyway. This way your agent will have a record of the showing agent’s name, company, company phone number, and date and time of entry. And you have the comfort of knowing that the person showing your home meets the criteria for having one of the electronic keys. Many agents like to use combination lockboxes, which are mechanical. They say it’s because they have control over who they give the combination to. However, once they’ve given out the combination, you have no idea who else it might be given to and how many times it is used to gain entry to the property.
- Buyers, seeing the For Sale sign, may knock on your door and ask if they can see the inside. They may even tell you that they only have a small window of time to look at properties just to make you feel that you might lose a sale if you don’t let them in. DON’T LET THEM IN! You’d never let a total stranger wander through your house at any other time, so why start now? You have no idea who these people are and you shouldn’t compromise your safety just because you’re selling your house. I recommend to my clients that they give the buyer my card and tell him to make arrangements through me. This way, I can find out more information and make sure that they are bonafide buyers before scheduling an appointment to show them the house.
- If an agent shows up at the door without an appointment, asking if he can show the house, and you decide to let them in, ask them to use the electronic lockbox. If he doesn’t have a key, then tell him to call your agent and make other arrangements. A business card is very easy to make – don’t rely on one as proof that the person at your door is really a licensed real estate agent.
- Secure your valuables before the house goes on the market. You’re moving anyway, so pack your valuable collections ahead of time. Remove temptation. Sometimes buyers have small children with them and may not notice when inquisitive fingers pick up and handle your belongings. Packing these items early has two benefits – no one can break or steal what isn’t there and your house shows better when it is de-cluttered and de-personalized.
- Don’t leave loose change and jewelry out in the open. Self-explanatory, but you’d be surprised how often it gets overlooked.
- Tuck prescriptions drugs into a dresser drawer rather than leaving them in the bathroom cabinet. Again, it’s self-explanatory but can easily be forgotten.
Don’t be afraid to listen to your instincts. And don’t sacrifice your safety for the sake of selling your home. It just isn’t worth it.
(C) 2006 Susan Pruden.