I’m not a scaredy cat…
Where I live is extremely safe. Where I grew up is extremely safe. I don’t have that natural concern that I have seen in others regarding my personal safety, or the safety and security of my possessions. I have been known to tease a person or two about their paranoias….usually these people are from LA or New York…both areas drawing a lot of transplants here to Arizona. The padlock on the the electrical panel, or the security system with an enormous monthly monitoring bill are not things I have ever personally considered…even though horror films and murder mysteries are my top genre of choice. Danger isn’t something I have to deal with luckily.
But when Selling your Home…
I do, however, want home sellers to be cautious. Selling your home is not an innately dangerous activity, but one that deserves some extra caution be taken for both your personal safety and security of your stuff.
Most real estate agents won’t work with a buyer until they have a full pre-approval done. Once a pre-approval has been applied for, A LOT of the buyer’s very personal information has been disclosed to the mortgage originator. At this point real estate agents usually feel secure enough (maybe after a google session or two) to spend the day with a buyer showing them homes. But be aware, SOME real estate agents will throw caution into the wind and show properties to a “buyer” without a pre approval, or a google search….or any kind of researched identification! Real estate is a competitive business, and sometimes being the most accomodating may feel like a winning strategy. So sellers must always employ caution.
How is this done?
When marketing your home it is expected and necessary to display photographs of your home online. Lots of photographs, showing all the rooms of your home from all different angles, as well as your backyard. This will put all of your home’s vulnerabilities on display to the world….and if you are still living in the home, also all of your possessions. Many of us don’t have possessions that would be interesting to a professional burglar…but depending on how many kids appear to live in the home and how connected…someone desperate could probably expect to find an iPad, a chromebook, maybe even an old iphone lying around, or two. Make sure these things are not visible in any of the photos, and when your home is on the market make sure they aren’t left sitting out either.
Sometimes these unidentified buyers, or even pre-approved buyers with bad intentions will look for items that aren’t sitting out. If they are with a licensed real estate agent, that agent will stop them from open drawers or doing any digging…but if there are several people in a group, one person may be able to be alone in room while the rest of the group is in another part of the house. The two main items of interest that sellers may not consider are guns and prescription medications. With opiate addiction reaching insanely high levels across the country, the left over pain medicine from your knee surgery last year could score some serious cash on the street. Do not leave any interesting medication in your medicine cabinets where they can be easily found and pocketed. And the guns in the bedside table drawers? Probably not a good idea either. (Interestingly, these guns by the bed people seem to be native to our state for the most part!) Hide things that will be tempting…even if you think the buyers pre approved to view your home wouldn’t be tempted, they may bring their teenage children along…or a contractor to see if a wall can be removed or something like that. Cash and jewelry probably don’t need reminders…but even that dish you dump your change from out of your pants pockets every evening? Don’t leave it out. Once an 8 year old in a family I was working with helped himself to that change, like it was a candy dish! Parents caught him and were mortified, but he could have walked away with $1.75 easily!
If you have doors that don’t lock anymore, repair them before you go on the market. The buyers will ask you to anyway, and it is safest for you to just take care of it before hitting the MLS.
If you are home, and someone rings the doorbell and says they are a real estate agent and they have an appointment, or they don’t have an appointment but would love to show their buyer your home…DO NOT LET THEM IN. Make sure they access the lockbox so you KNOW they are a licensed real estate agent, and their visit is recorded.
Leave during showings, and have your teenagers leave too. The other day I had an appointment to show a home, but I knew it was occupied. I rang the doorbell upon arriving, waited a minute, and went to access the lockbox. After I had opened the lockbox, a teenager came to the door. She was half asleep, and hardly dressed. And stunningly gorgeous like teenagers can be. I made sure she knew we were coming, she said she did, and she let us enter the home. She then went back to sleep on the couch. I have a daughter that is the same age as this girl…so mom mode came out. I wanted to yell at her, cover her up, and then scold her some more. Luckily we were harmless, but if that had been my daughter….
Open houses allow people that are not pre-approved, and no one even knows who they are, through your home. Open houses are the most important time to make sure there is nothing accessible that could be steal-worthy! If more than one group is touring the home at once it is easy for someone to break apart from the others to do some deep digging.
Lastly, I hope this doesn’t need saying…but don’t do a “For Sale By Owner”. Not only do you generally net less money for your home than you would have if you had listed it with a real estate agent, it makes YOU in charge of vetting who you will and won’t let into your home. Some of most charming people are just cons or criminals. Never forget that!
Stay safe out there everyone, leave the murders and robbery to Netflix! If you want to sell your home, pack up pretty much everything and store it in your garage…no one will go through your boxes! If you want more tips on selling your home CLICK HERE!