As a child, your parents may have taught you never to talk to strangers. As an adult hoping to sell your home, not only are you going to have to talk to strangers — you’re going to have to invite them in.
Real estate professionals — who are sometimes targeted by criminals pretending to be clients — should take certain precautions to protect themselves and the homeowners they represent.
Whether you’re working with an agent or selling your home on your own, take a cue from the experts to avoid common crimes like burglary and identity theft. With simple tips like showing your home with a friend and investing in smart home technologies, we’ll show you how to keep your family and your home safe during the selling process.
1. Skip the open house
Real estate experts disagree on whether open houses really help sell properties. What’s certain, however, is the risk you take when strangers are allowed to wander into your home. An open house is the perfect excuse for thieves to get their hands on your valuables, or to case your property so they can target it later.
2. Never show alone
If you’re expecting a prospective home buyer, ask a friend or neighbor to come hang out while you’re giving the grand tour.
3. Don’t overshare
Small talk is a friendly way to connect with a potential buyer, but resist the urge to give away too much. Don’t discuss your marital status, your family’s schedule, or your vacation plans. Some experts even suggest taking down family photos before showing your home, especially pictures of your children.
4. Have your agent meet with prospective buyers first
Real estate agents often have safety procedures in place when speaking with potential clients. If you’re working without a listing agent, don’t let anyone view your home without an appointment. Some experts recommend only accepting appointments made over the phone. If someone reaches out, ask for his or her phone number and then call that number before the showing to “confirm” the appointment — and ensure it isn’t a fake. At the showing, ask for identification. Prospective home buyers should have no problem showing proof of their identity, so be friendly and firm.
5. Do your research
If someone reaches out to you claiming to be an agent interested in showing your home or working with you, request contact information. To confirm the individual’s identity before giving away any information or agreeing to services, contact the brokerage provided.
6. Keep valuables out of sight
Make sure jewelry, family heirlooms, electronics, and designer accessories are tucked away where people touring your house won’t be able to see them.
7. Dispose of prescription drugs
Prescription drugs, especially prescription painkillers, are a major target for would-be thieves and drug seekers — especially during open houses. Follow the FDA’s guidelines on disposing of old medications safely, and consider keeping the ones you do use under lock and key.
8. Invest in smart home technology
Your home is uniquely vulnerable when it’s on the market, so it’s a great time to consider a smart home security system. It may even make your home more valuable to safety-conscious buyers. Inman, a real estate news website, reported that 72 percent of buyers ages 18 to 34 would be willing to pay thousands of dollars more for a smart home. Smart home technology features like wireless security and smart smoke detectors are increasingly popular.
At the very least, consider investing in a smart lockbox. Devices like TOOR and igloo’s keybox give you full control over who can enter your home, even if you’re miles away. And, if you’re a landlord or property manager, Rently’s lockbox technology allows potential residents to tour properties at their convenience — without you having to be there.
By making your home smarter, not only are you giving it a leg up on the competition — you’re also giving yourself peace of mind. That’s priceless.
Visit the National Association of Realtors® for more great safety tips including:
- Schedule showings for daytime hours.
- When touring the home, walk behind visitors, not in front of them.
- Put away items like mail and bills before a showing.
Do you have any tips or information you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them; please share them in the box below.
Phil Karp is a 25-year industry veteran who currently serves as the head of brokerage services at Owners.com, where the process of buying and selling your home is made simple. Phil's experience gives him the tools to educate home sellers on ways to keep their homes safe during showings. In his downtime, he chases his passion for auto racing in the Greater Atlanta area that he calls home.