The housing market is coming back, and lots of people are selling their homes-and you may be considering it too. Will you use a real estate agent or do it yourself? No matter which path you choose, there are safety and security considerations for both. When opening your home to strangers, the risks to your family's personal security increase dramatically.
For one illustration, KHOU reports, "Two women are accused of posing as a real estate agent and prospective buyer to burglarize a house. They allegedly called her Realtor last minute to say they were close by. Police said the women had given the license number and name of a legitimate real estate agent to obtain permission to enter. Once inside, they allegedly took watches, jewelry and a credit card."
When selling your home and someone knocks on the door and begins to con the homeowner with the above not-too-far-fetched scenario, more than likely the home owner will let him or her in.
Use caution-and, if you use a real estate agent, discuss the following:
- Recognize that when placing ads or displaying a yard sign, scammers will notice too. You are going to have to set boundaries and begin to think differently in this process. It's never OK for anyone to enter your home unannounced. Even if a person set an appointment, it's best to have a real estate agent along. And always pay attention to whoever enters. Don't just let a stranger (even one claiming to want to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for your home) roam free.
- Lock up: Remove your valuables or put them in a safe; medicines or anything else of resale value is often targeted. When suspecting or seeing someone steal something, just let the person have it. Never confront a thief, and never try to take it back. Leave your own house immediately, as a thief could turn violent instantly. Your job isn't to prevent theft-merely to deter it.
- Be suspect: Being guarded and alert can keep you from getting into a vulnerable situation. Expect every bad guy or gal to show up in a nice car, well dressed, and even with family. Sometimes the person has business cards stating his or her profession. Regardless, don't let your guard down.
- Signage and ads: Use advertising as your first layer of defense. Include phrases like "Appointment only" and "Driver's license required for admission" and "Pre-approved documents required." Include signage at the front door, such as "Video surveillance in use" or "Driver's license required," as well as signage showing you have a home security system.
- Use the buddy system: Strength comes in numbers. Having two or more people on site is best, so set appointments around spouse or friend availability.
- Identification: Request ID when people walk in. If they have a problem with this, then that's a red flag and you need to tell them to leave.
- Determine any vulnerabilities: When showing a property, think in terms of where your screams would not be heard, such as a basement, attic, garage, etc. It may be necessary to send potential buyer to these areas alone.
- Dress appropriately: Expensive jewelry is a no-no. Pajamas or provocative attire sends the wrong message. Be professional.
- Intuition: Trust your gut and pay attention to your intuition. If something seems wrong, something is wrong.
- Home security: Install a home security system with cameras. Not only does this help to secure the home, but it also increases resale value.