Selling a home is a big task requiring lots of time and effort. Most people use a professional real estate agent to help them sell (which I recommend), but many today are doing it themselves. When opening your home to strangers the risks to your families’ personal security increase dramatically.
First and foremost recognize that when you are placing ads and alerting the world to come inside and take a peek, you are going to have to make a few adjustments and begin to think differently in this process.
Secure valuables. Lock up or remove anything that you don’t want stolen. If you ever suspect or see someone steal something, let them have it. There is nothing material worth fighting over.
Be suspect of everyone. There isn’t any benefit in being paranoid; however, being a little guarded can keep you from getting into a vulnerable situation. Don’t just be wary of a man showing up unaccompanied. Expect them to show up in a nice car, well dressed, maybe with a wife and kids tagging along. They might have a business card saying they are a doctor or a lawyer. Don’t let your guard down.
When placing ads, all advertisements should state “Appointment only” “Drivers license required” and “Pre Approval Documentation Required.” There are all hoops the bad guy may not want to jump through and you vetting out those who are “just looking” at the same time.
Use the Buddy System. When you set appointments always schedule around a spouse or friends availability so they can join you. There is always strength in numbers. If you have to go it solo, when someone walks in, say, “I’d be happy to show you the benefits of this home! In a few minutes my friend Rocco will be along to assist me,” creating the illusion of the buddy system.
ID and pre-qualify at your first meeting. When you are meeting at your property, get some form of identification. Also, it is to your benefit that a potential client buying a home is pre-qualified. Someone who is pre-qualified by a lender is less likely to be a predator.
Safe open houses. Spend a few minutes considering all the vulnerable points within the home and how you would escape if necessary.
Dress for safety and success. Don’t wear expensive jewelry. A $3-5 thousand-dollar diamond buys a lot of drugs. Dress professionally instead of provocatively.
Pay attention to your intuition. Trust your gut, and don’t discount any troubling feelings you might have about your new prospect. The moment you sense danger leave the house.
Install a home security system. Home security cameras and a home alarm system are great selling points. Install these way ahead of time for security purposes. During showings carry a remote control for your alarm system that has a panic button and can alert law enforcement if you run into trouble.
Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Real Estate Agent Security on Inside Edition.