SAFETY TIPS FOR SELLERS
- Prescription drugs: Remove or lock them up prior to showings.
A growing number of real estate professionals are reporting theft of prescription drugs from sellers’ homes during open houses. Indeed, nearly half of 164 real estate professionals surveyed at a REALTORS® Expo reported knowledge of prescription drug theft taking place at open houses.
Home sellers should use a bag to remove prescription drugs from their homes prior to showings or to properly dispose of expired prescription drugs (the bags included a list of drop-off centers for safely disposing of expired medications).
- Stow away valuables: Valuables include everything from the mail left on the countertops (which may contain personal information and bank statements) to such items as jewelry, artwork, cellphones, and gaming systems.
In capturing virtual tours or photographs of the home for marketing purposes, make sure such valuables are not photographed, like a seller’s priceless coin collection, wine cellar, or equipment in a fully outfitted media room.
Too many people fail to consider that criminals nowadays can case houses from the comfort of their computer. They can see all the person’s valuables when you put them in fliers and on a website. If the valuables are not being sold with the house, why do they need to be shown anyway?
Before sellers leave the house for a showing, they need to be responsible for walking through the house and making sure everything of value is out of sight.
- Remove family photos: It’s for your safety.
Many real estate professionals advise sellers to remove family photos from their home. But the conversations are often framed around staging and making it so prospective buyers can imagine themselves living there. Focusing on the safety of your family. You may be reluctant to remove your family photos just because I say it will help new owners envision it becoming their house. You don’t know who’s walking through the house. You have photos of your wife, teenage daughter, children displayed, and you could have a pedophile or stalker walking through your home. Who would leave their family photos up after you say that?
- Make a house safe for the buyers and the agent.
Turn on the lights prior to showings — whether it’s daytime or evening — so that agents and buyers can move safely through the home and not have to face any dark unknowns. During the initial safety check of a listing,we should ensure all rooms have adequate lighting as well.
Also, sellers should make sure there are no potential hazards in your home, like loose floorboards or carpets. You don’t want to risk someone tripping and falling in your home and potentially open yourselves up to liability.
It’s important to remove not only weapons like guns before showings but also not-so-obvious weapons too. For example, many home owners may have a block of knives on their kitchen countertops; remove these for the agent’s safety as well.
- Keep the house locked: Consider extra monitoring.
Another safety reminder for you: Doors need to be kept locked at all times. A home is being presented to the public, and it may attract intruders.
Home sellers should know about deadbolt locks and keeping them locked. Also, sliding glass doors can be secured with bars and extra locks. Motion-sensor lights can be a good option for outdoor areas for added security. Windows should be checked to make sure they are locked securely.
Take an extra step with some of your properties, particularly vacant ones, and possibly installing a wireless security system. A company called Presence allows you to turn your old smartphone device into a home security system, for free. By uploading the video-monitoring app, you can use your old smartphone to feed videos remotely to your current phone to keep an eye on the listing. You can also use a motion-detection sensitivity feature to alert you to any detected movements in front of the camera and send a video clip to you via email. Presence works with iOS, Android, Amazon Alexa, and web browsers.
- Beware of unexpected visitors coming to your doorstep.
You need to know that when your house is for sale, you may also get some unexpected visitors who ask to see their home.
Instruct visitors there are proper procedures for showings: Only real estate professionals using the lockbox should gain access to their home.
What’s more, a growing rental fraud scam is causing more home sellers to report renters who are showing up at you doorsteps, too, ready to move in. Real estate professionals say their for-sale listings are getting scraped from websites by scammers who then place them as a rental listing on sites like Craigslist.