Inviting strangers to your home for a house viewing can be an unraveling experience because you are letting strangers into your private space.
Regrettably, homes on sale attract thieves and scammers. Thieves use homes that are open for inspection to assess the security features of the house for future robberies. Robbers can also visit your home in the name of a home inspection to identify valuable things for prospective theft.
Items do not always go missing due to thieves: children are also to blame in some cases.
Here are sixteen tips to keep your home and family safe as you sell your home:
Store away valuable items
Before showing your home, remove and store away all the crucial things in your home.
Some of the useful items in your home include expensive paintings, cutlery, children’s toys, jewelry, perfumes, shoes, car keys, and handbags among others.
Remember to remove large items of value from display. Even though it is highly unlikely that large pieces will go missing during the viewing, thieves can identify the objects and plot to come to steal them after the showing.
You can choose to either store the items in a safe in your house or store them outside your home, for example, you can keep the things at a friend’s place.
Remove weapons from the house.
Get rid of weapons such as guns and pepper sprays in your house before the showing. As such weapons can be used by persons posing as buyers, to subdue you and your family, and the showing can easily turn into a robbery.
Other items that should be removed from display are kitchen knives, belts, umbrellas, and canes. These items are not weapons technically though they too can be used as alternatives in case the thieves have no weapons at hand.
Screen potential buyers before viewings.
Place all potential purchasers through a pre-qualification process before permitting them to attend a house viewing. In the pre-qualification stage, ask the potential buyers to provide you with their names, photo ID, driving license number, a photo of their driving license, and any other information that can help identify them should the need arise.
Buyers that fail to provide such information should not be allowed to view your home due to security reasons. Also, we advise that you verify the information given, with relevant agencies to ensure that the details provided are genuine.
Most homeowners allow buyers to roam around their home unsupervised which increases the chances of getting robbed.
To reduce the chances of getting robbed, always ensure that all prospective buyers are monitored throughout the viewing.
Keep everyone together.
Ensure that all the potential buyers stay together at all times. Do not allow any of the persons viewing the house to go into a different room alone.
Also, make sure that you can see what everyone is doing in the room because thieves can take advantage of blind spots in the room and try to place a few items in their bags when your view is blocked.
Place Security Cameras.
The front door camera will capture the face of every potential buyer who views your home while the indoor cameras will record all the activities taking place in the house.
Further, the presence of cameras will deter anyone with ill intentions from carrying out any sinister activities in your home.
Open the curtains during showings.
A home with poor lighting will most likely attract thieves especially if the viewing takes place very late in the evening.
If the viewing is taking place during the day open all the windows and curtains in the house, to make sure that the rooms have sufficient light during the showing. Further, if the rooms are not well light after opening the curtains, turn on the lights for additional lighting.
Lock up electronic devices and sensitive documents.
Mobile phones, iPads, laptops, chargers, kindles and other portable electronic devices should be locked up in a safe and secure place away from prying eyes.
Personal documents such as vehicle title documents, credit cards, social security cards, driver’s license, and other sensitive documents, should also be removed from your home.
Any unread mail should also be placed away as scammers can steal your identification details and use them for criminal activities.
Remove family photos.
All family photos on the fridge and the walls for your house should be removed before the staging. Family photos provide a lot of details about your family, for instance, the number of children in your home, their ages, where they go to school, where you and your spouse work, whether you travel a lot, they can also reveal some of your expensive jewelry, among other details.
Such information can be used by ill-intentioned persons to plan a robbery and to assess when it would be best to rob your home.
Also, realtors recommend that family photos are removed from the house to assist the buyers to envision themselves in your home.
Do not reveal your personal information.
During the showing, do not disclose your personal information to the potential buyers such as when you go to work, where you go to work, how many people live in your home, where your children go to school, and other personal information.
Such personal information can be used to assess your wealth and could make you a target.
Work with a certified realtor.
Work with a certified realtor who will prepare you and your family for the showings weeks before the first prospective buyer walks into your house.
The realtor will guide you on what to do and what not to do, before, during and after the showing. Ensure that you hire a realtor that is trustworthy.
Use deterrent signage.
Indicate on the signage, that the house is monitored by a CCTV camera and that persons who wish to view the house will be subjected to a pre-qualification procedure. Any person with ill motive will be afraid of visiting the home due to the security features in place on the house.
Check your windows and doors after every viewing.
After the showing always, check your windows and doors to make sure that they are locked.
Persons with ill motives can open a door or a window during the viewing while you are distracted. They can then use the open windows and doors to re-enter the house after the appointment.
Do not allow unannounced showings.
Thieves usually prefer to view a house unannounced. They will show up at your doorstep and request for a showing.
In such an instance, you do not have adequate time to call your realtor to come to your home for the showing, to carry out a pre-qualification analysis, and to collect and verify the personal information given by the strangers.
All the thieves and scammers want to is gain access to your home, so that they can attack you in the course of the showing when your guard if off.
If strangers show up on your door impromptu, do not open your door. Inform them from the safety of your home, that they cannot view the house at the moment and that they need to speak to your realtor for the realtor to schedule a viewing.
Only work with your realtor.
If your sign indicates the name of the real estate company that is assisting you to sell your home, scammers can read the title of the real estate company and call you pretending to be employees of the real estate company who have been assigned to assist you to find a buyer.
Once they gain your trust, the scammer or the thief will set up a house viewing in which the other thieves will pose as prospective buyers.
Therefore, always work with one realtor at all times and if you receive a call from a person claiming to work with the realtor, call the realtor and verify from the realtor if he has allocated the home to another person.
Trust your instincts.
Last but not least, if a couple ticks all the right boxes but your instincts tell you that something is not right. Listen to your instincts and do not allow them to view your home.
Follow the tips above, to keep you, your family, and your belongings safe as you sell your house. The old saying, better safe than sorry, can go a long way when it comes to personal property.