With so many property scams and attacks on real estate agents and homeowners safety when selling your home has come under the spotlight. Under normal circumstances you would not let any strangers into your home. Allowing people to have a look around your home increases the chances that your home will be targeted for crime.
Not only will criminals have the chance to access your home but they will be able to identify valuables and security flaws in and around the home which they may use at a later stage.
In order to protect yourself and your property you need to be extra cautions during the home selling process and employ the below security and safety precautions when selling your home.
Part 1: Before you put your Home on the Market
- Beef up your Home Security
Just before you put your home on the market it is wise to beef up your home security or at least conduct the proper maintenance to existing systems. If you do not have a security company, this is a great time to consider employing one as they offer the most valuable service for people selling their homes. Here is a quick checklist of things you need to consider:
- That your electric gate is in working condition
- That your electric fence is working and connected to your home alarm system
- That all doors and windows can be securely locked (change any damaged or old locks)
- That your home alarm system is in working condition and that all panic buttons are working
- That all CCTV systems are up and running (and are being recorded and stored)
- Consider installing a safe in a cupboard to store valuables
- Trim and neaten any overgrown bushes and trees
- Ensure your garage, store room or shed is properly locked and that all items within are properly stored away
- Pack Away all Valuables
Prior to having an estate agent come over to your house to take photographs it is only wise to pack away all of your electronics and valuables. Remember that these photos will be posted online for anyone to see and that if there are plasma TV’s, safes, jewelry and electronics visible in these photos you may be attracting criminals.
Part 2: After your Home has been put on the Market
- Never allow more than one viewing at a time
Criminals who target homes that are up for sale know that they can gain entry to your home by posing as a prospective buyer. Some of these criminals will try to set up two viewings at the same time (as different buyers) in order to overwhelm the estate agent and homeowner. They will then split up and enter different rooms to either steal your valuables or gain control of the home and the people in it. The agent will quickly become overwhelmed and will be unable to supervise all of the people. Never allow more than one viewing, or one group of viewers, to enter your home at the same time.
- Appointments and Viewing Times
Never allow anyone who has not made an appointment via your estate agent to enter your home. You can simply give them your agent’s number or ask them to take it off of your for sale sign.
Do not let anyone view your home without your agent present. The purpose of having an agent is that they must show your home to prospective buyers and represent you throughout the process. If an agent sends people to view your home while they are not present they are not doing their job and you should immediately discuss this with them and, if need be, cancel your mandate with them in favor of another agent.
Appointments should be made only at appropriate times when multiple family members will be at home. Late evening viewings or early morning viewings should not be permitted.
Do not allow your estate agent to bully you into allowing last minute viewings to be conducted. Purchasing a property is a very long and sometimes difficult process and waiting a day or two for an appointment should not be a big deal to any sincere buyer.
- Call your Security Company
If you own a home and do not have an alarm system and security company you are definitely at a higher risk of being targeted. If you do have an alarm system and a security company call them a day or two before the scheduled viewing and ask them to do a drive by and even a telephonic safety check. In the case that anything does go wrong during the viewing the security company will become aware of this relatively quickly and take immediate action.
It is also advisable to keep a panic button on your person during viewings. If you have more than one panic button you can give one to your estate agent as they are likely to realize that something is wrong before anyone else will.
- Call a Neighbor, Family Member or Friend
You should call a neighbor, family friend or family member and let them know that someone is coming by to view your home and that they should phone you in 15 to 20 minutes to check up on you. This is particularly important if you are single or will not have any other family members home during the viewing. Let them know that if you do not answer they should call your security company to conduct a safety check immediately or notify the police.
- Preparing your Home for the Viewing
You should open up all doors and curtains around your home just prior to the viewing. This will make it easier for you and your agent to see what is going on and will also allow your security company and neighbors to see into the home and quickly determine if something untoward is happening.
You must pack away all your valuables including handbags, laptops, mobile phones and tablets, cash, wallets as well as jewelry and car keys. You should also never leave any house keys or remotes in a place where they can be seen and stolen during the viewing.
- Communicate with your Estate Agent
Estate agents are typically well aware of the risks associated with the business and will usually discuss the safety and security measures you need to take to protect yourself and your home. You should always listen to the advice and direction of the agent but, also use your own intuition and common sense – if something doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t.
Here are a few things you need to discuss with your estate agent:
- That only one viewing must be scheduled at a time
- The process that the agent will take to screen viewers
- The appropriate times to bring viewers by (preferably during the day when there are multiple family members at home)
- You must discuss your home security with your agent and let them know if your alarm system is connected to a security company or not and if panic buttons are available
Part 3: Safety and Security during a Show House
Allowing your agent to host a show house is a very important part of successfully selling your home. While under certain circumstances it may be completely inappropriate for a show house to be arranged, if you are considering this you need to take extra security precautions.
This is because unlike with scheduled viewings, the agent will not be able to properly screen buyers. Here are the tops tips for keeping yourself and your home safe during an open house:
- Always pack away all valuables and electronics – once you’re done ask your agent to do a walk through to check that you have not missed anything important
- Call your security company and ask them to drive by throughout the day and/or do a few safety checks
- Call a family member, friend or neighbor and ask them to check up on you every 30 minutes either by calling or sending a message to which you must reply
- Make sure your phone is fully charged and that you have sufficient airtime to place a call
- Open all doors and windows to allow your security company and neighbors to easily see (and hear) what is going on inside the home
- Keep a mobile panic button on your person and give one to your estate agent
- Show your estate agent where the panic buttons are located throughout the home if no mobile panic buttons are available
- Never allow your gate to stand open – rather ask your agent to sit outside with a remote or ask a family member to stand at the gate
- Only allow one group of people to view the home at a time – if more viewers arrive during this time politely ask them to wait a few minutes
- Never allow large groups of people – particularly groups of men with no children or women to view the home, rather tell them that the show day is over and give them the agents business card so that they can set up an appointment
Once the show day or viewing is over always do a walk around and ensure you lock all doors and windows and make sure that nothing is missing. If anything is missing call your agent and the police immediately. Always keep emergency numbers saved on your phone as well as somewhere easy to access during an emergency.
Did you find this article on safety precautions when selling your home useful? Do you think I’ve left out an import security measure or tip? Let me know in the comments section below.