Congratulations! You have decided to take advantage of the real estate market and sell your home yourself! I tried that one time, in days gone by. After a couple of weeks, it occurred to me that I was opening my door to strangers. Many times I was home alone, and I soon realized that I did not know what precautions to take if danger raised its ugly head. I was no longer comfortable with my decision to sell my house for sale by owner. I contacted a Realtor who was recommended to me by my neighbor. Thankfully, my house was soon under contract! I have never forgotten those weeks, though, that I could have let the wrong person come through my front door.
After 15 years experience as a Realtor and Instructor in the Greater Birmingham AL area, I have put together a list of safety tips that For Sale By Owners need to know before they make the decision to sell their most expensive asset by themselves. All Realtors I have mentored or taught are aware of these Safety Tips and use them, especially when holding an open house. A few times, I have been told many times they were so grateful to have had these safety tips:
- For your own safety, never set an appointment with anyone who says they are a Realtor to preview or show your home unless they have given you their name, phone number, and office phone number. Call their office to verify they are a Realtor in that office. The easy way to do this is to say, “Let me check with my husband/wife/schedule for the best time, and I will call you right back.
- The same applies for strangers asking to come by. Do not tell them you are “out of town” or “I don’t get home until 7:30”. Do your homework. Your phone number is on a sign in the front yard! Anyone can call and pretend to be someone else. Before you have checked them out, do not let them know your schedule, or when your spouse will not be home, when you pick up your children, when you work, when you will be out of town. Do your homework!
- Never give a caller information about your home’s security system or deadbolt locks. Never give out the combination to the lockbox, unless it is a bonafide Realtor.
- Have a back up plan when you allow strangers into your home, especially if you have children. Have a neighbor look out for you until the lookers have gone. Before they arrive, unlock all exit doors, including the basement, and any gates for an avenue of escape.
- Park your car on the street so that you won’t be blocked in. If you car keys have a panic button, keep them in your hand while showing the house, and press it if you need help. It will help alert the neighbors.
- Never let a stranger into your home without seeing some identification. If the person says he/se is a Realtor, ask for a card. If you have not checked them out, step outside and call the office number on their card.
- Meet all strangers on your front porch, never in your doorway. Do not go into small areas with them, like the bathroom or attic. NEVER HAVE THEM AT YOUR BACK! YOU ALWAYS STAY BEHIND THEM!
- You know what your basement looks like. You DO NOT need to accompany them to your basement. If you find you have to, or you are forced into the basement, ensure ahead of time there is a door unlocked or garage doors open enough that you can easily escape if necessary.
- Keep a log of everyone who has looked at your house. Get their name, telephone number, address, car description, tag number and any additional information that could be helpful in the event of a future burglary. All of these people would be suspects.
- Flyers to advertise your home should not include any information that might breech your security.
- Remove from sight all valuables, including guns, jewelry, silverware, and prized collections. We screen all potential buyers via a thorough pre qualification process before we take anyone into a listed home.
- Never leave strangers alone, and watch their every move while they are in your home. One of the latest scams involves prescription drugs. A nice looking, clean cut couple will make an appointment to view your home. Once inside, one of them will ask to use the bathroom and will search for prescription drugs while inside. Make certain your prescription drugs are well hidden before anyone looks at your home.
While your house is on the market as a For Sale By Owner, please heed these safety tips. You do not know who is on the other side of your door. They have your name, address and phone number, and you don’t know anything about them. Their name may be fictitious. Be careful and never be home alone with someone you don’t know.
Linda Hankins, Associate Broker – Keller Williams Realty Metro South – Website: LindaSellsMagicCity.com – Email: LindaHankins@kw.com