Selling your home can and should be a rewarding experience for you and your family. Helping you ensure that it is a safe experience should be a top priority for any homeowner. Recently, the news has been full of stories about Beverly Carter, a real estate agent who was kidnapped and murdered by a supposed “buyer.” Your safety is a serious business! Please take some time to review this For Sale By Owner Safety Checklist with anyone you know who’s thinking of selling their home, with or without a real estate agent.
1) Use the Buddy System. There’s a reason why the buddy system is so popular: there’s safety in numbers. With that in mind, plan never to be alone in your house with strangers. If you are going to be showing your home, make sure that you have someone there with in the house at the time.
2) Be a good shepherd. Often times, buyers will come in groups. If you have more than one person in your home, make sure that everyone keeps together as you go through the house, so you can keep an eye on them. Thieves often work in pairs; one can distract you while the other rifles through your home looking for valuables to take with them. Don’t give them the opportunity!
3) Make a date. Don’t allow people to just come by any time. Remember, you want to make sure that someone is there in the home with you, and that you’ve had time to properly prepare the home to make sure it’s “show ready.” Also, make sure you confirm appointments by phone – you call the buyer, to make sure they give you a legitimate phone number.
4) Keep your phone handy. These days a lot of folks always have their cell phones in their hands. If you are not in the habit, though – make sure that you do keep your phone right in your hand. There are actually some panic button apps for smart phones, too.
5) Pre-qualify the buyer before they come over. Before you agree to let anyone in your home, you’ll want to ask them a number of questions. Depending on how they answer, you may get the sense that they are not a real buyer, or may have some other intent besides purchasing a home. Consider asking a few questions like:
- Are they pre-approved or pre-qualified for a loan?
- Do they need to sell a home before they can buy another one?
- What is their time frame for buying?
- How long have they been looking for a new home?
- Are they working with a real estate agent?
6) Give yourself an out. When you are with a buyer, make sure that whoever is in your home is not between you and the exit. This means you allow the buyer to enter the room first, and you should stand behind the buyer, at or near the door.
7) Don’t Say the Wrong Things. When speaking with a buyer prior to making an appointment, be careful what you say. Here are some crucial points to remember when talking with a buyer:
- Don’t say the house is vacant
- Always indicate there will be multiple people home for the showing
- Don’t mention there are children in the home, or allow them to answer the phone
- Don’t say “we never lock the doors!” or give any indication of lax security
It’s unfortunate that we live in a world where really, you can’t be too careful. Hopefully with these tips in mind, you will not put yourself in a position where you’ve invited someone into your home that really shouldn’t be there.