Whether they use an agent or consider selling their home themselves, sellers often take risks when they place their house on the market. By letting complete strangers into their home during open houses, showings, and inspections, sellers are opening themselves up to potential burglary, theft, and personal harm.
And it’s not only sellers who incur injury, real estate agents are also put at risk. In 2011, a 27-year-old agent was killed in an Iowa model home after purportedly meeting a potential client there.
This is not to say that you should not sell your house, however. Like many industries, real estate has its ups and downs, but our society would not be what it is today if we did not practice it. Instead of forgoing the potential complications and liabilities by not putting your home on the market, you (and your agent) should always remain wary and practice these eight safety tips:
8 Safety Tips for Selling Your Home
- Schedule appointments. Real estate agents often use services, such as the Centralized Showing Service, to schedule appointments ahead of time. These services ask for passcodes from the agent and can relay important instructions to the buyer agents about your house.
- Keep your valuables hidden. Leave your jewelry, credit cards, important documents, and other valuables in a safe or locked drawer or cabinet.
- Be wary of any public information. Unfortunately, to sell your house, a lot of information has to be publicized, including showing times, pictures of your house, and the street address. But, other information, such as vacation plans, should not be publicized.
- Trim your unruly hedges or trees. Your landscaping should look desirable anyway (see our many blog posts on curb appeal), but any unruly or large trees and hedges against your house also create a space for burglars to hide.
- Only agree to daytime showings. This will greatly deter any attempts to harm you, your agent, or the buyer agent. If you have to agree to a showing after dark, make sure that all the lights in the house are on and that the curtains and blinds are all open.
- Use a lockbox. Lockboxes are a great security measure for sellers. With the computerized lock, only realtor key cards and special codes can let anybody into your home.
- Ask any visitors to sign in or leave their name with the showing service. Typically, open houses have a sign-in sheet for the visitors who come, but you should practice this with every showing and every visitor, even the buyers accompanied by an agent.
- Do not give out the passcodes to your security system. This might seem obvious, but many homeowners implicitly trust showing services and let them give out the code for their alarm to agents or potential buyers.