Monday, July 20, 2015 / by Bill Berning*
Selling or buying a home is an exciting, nerve-wracking, and important time, all rolled into one. Unfortunately, too many members of the marketplace end up making this event more stressful by failing to give safe practices their due. In an effort to keep you firmly out of this category, let’s reach out to some leading experts from around the real estate market and hear what they have to say about keeping everyone involved in a sale safe and secure.
Does something seem too good to be true with a potential new home? Is the other person involved in the process acting oddly? While these questions might seem over-the-top at first glance, the truth of the matter is that you can never be too cautious when dealing with others during the sale or purchase of a home.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re ready to go see an available home or entertain a potential buyer at your house. While there’s usually nothing to worry about when it comes to dealing with other people, you can never do too much to avoid interacting with the small minority of the population that doesn’t have your best interests at heart. With this in mind, here’s some essential tips and considerations that can help keep you and your family protected during this pivotal point in your lives.
Meet and Greet in a Public Place
At the top of the list of safety tips to consider when heading into a sale, according to the Police Department of Criminal Prevention in Mesa, Arizona, is meeting and greeting with the other parties in a public place. Whether this means reaching out to your realtor in his or her office, or meeting with a buyer or seller at an agreed upon open location, sticking to areas that are full of other people and activity is a great way to avoid finding yourself in an unsavory or potentially harmful situation.
Once you’ve met up with the other parties involved, don’t hesitate to perform a “check-up from the neck up.” Aside from serving as a funny saying, this concept represents the notion that if something doesn’t seem right with the person you’re working with, don’t be afraid to call off the viewing of the home. Your instincts are an invaluable asset, so listening to them and avoiding a situation that just doesn’t feel safe is perfectly acceptable when it comes to dealing with strangers.
Leave a “Paper Trail”
In addition to strategically planning out your initial meetings with others, it’s also a good idea to leave a paper trail whenever you’re heading out to browse through home listings. Offering up a schedule or agenda to friends and family members, as well as carrying multiple forms of identification, ensures that at least one person knows where you are at all times in case something goes wrong.
If you really want to go the extra mile on this front as the seller of a property, requesting that any interested parties in your home have preapproval from a lending agency helps keep these viewers relegated to only the most serious of potential buyers.
Take Time to Assess the Situation
As far as searching for a new home goes, Lew Sichelman of the Los Angeles Times suggests spending a few minutes to assess the situation before rushing in headfirst. Exciting though it make be to explore a new home, dealing with all of the unknowns that come with this process naturally carries a certain amount of risk.
For instance, if you’re looking to purchase an abandoned or vacant home, structural damage, squatters, wild animals, and a variety of other issues could pose a threat to you and anyone else who joins you on this trip. While the odds of dealing with these problems are far less likely in a traditional home-purchasing situation, it still never hurts to spend a few moments assessing the situation for any safety risks or hazards.
Never Travel Alone
Speaking of heading out to view available properties, it’s also a good idea to bring along a friend, family member, or your trusted realtor when setting out on this path. Having a second set of eyes and ears available to you during this time can ensure that you properly audit the situation for any potential threats or concerns. Additionally, having someone else with you during this time can serve as a strong deterrent for any illicit or underhanded tactics committed by less than savory individuals.
Protect Your Home During a Showing
For those of you who aren’t looking to buy a home, but rather sell your current property, the experts over at the National Association of Realtors’ Realtor magazine point out that there’s still plenty of concerns worthy of consideration before you rush into entertaining strangers in your home. Specifically the open house and home-showing portions of the process stand out as major areas of concern.
Having unknown individuals in your home is always a risk, but participating in an event like an open house exacerbates the issue. To help safeguard your property, always lock away “high interest” items – like jewelry and electronics – before a viewing. This process takes just a few minutes and makes a world of difference when dealing with large groups of people.
In terms of handling visitors, a good rule of thumb is to always stick to a schedule. Much like the paper trail discussed earlier, only entertaining visitors who set an appointment to see your home ensures that unexpected “drop-ins” don’t become an issue.
Keeping Your Head on Straight
Unfortunately, there’s nothing that you can do to completely erase the risks that come with interacting with strangers during the buying and selling of a home. It’s an issue that plagues any industry built upon connecting with others – not just the real estate world. However, that doesn’t mean that you’re completely out of options for protecting and safeguarding yourself during these times.
By putting what you’ve learned here to good use – including partnering up for home visits and stowing away your valuables during an open house – and remaining vigilant throughout the process, there’s no reason that you and your family can’t find an outcome that’s just right for your needs.