Staying safe when selling your own home
The horrific events that transpired In Hamilton in the past week, resulting in the death of Tim Bosma, have led me to this posting....RIP Tim!
Letting a stranger into your home is not advised by most people’s standards. On any given day, it is almost a certainty that if a random individual were to approach a family dwelling and knock on the door, he or she would not be accepted into the dwelling. At the very least, it would take a convincing story and an expert delivery to gain entry as a criminal. However, when one is selling their home, offering showings and holding open houses to strangers becomes a certainty. As a Real Estate Agent, my colleagues and myself are trained to take specific safety precautions when showing homes and holding open houses.
Here are some of the safety precautions that I believe will keep your family and home safe:
1. Never show your home by yourself!
If you have chosen to sell your home without an agent it is important to take the extra precaution of having somebody attend all showings and open houses with you. Whether it be your spouse, a close friend, family member or neighbor the likelihood of something happening to you greatly decreases. If there isn't anybody that can attend the showing contact your neighbors before hand and inform them that you will be holding a showing. Tell them who is going to be coming to see the house and how long you expect the showing to last. Additionally, if one of your neighbors could be outside when your prospective buyer arrives (taking the garbage out, cutting the grass, gardening, etc.) it would also decrease the likelihood of harm coming to you or your home now or in the future.
One of the many things that Real Estate Agents do is prequalify leads prior to showing properties. Asking detailed qualifying questions, finding out where they currently live, gathering their reasons for buying a home and using their financial approvals allow us to not only find a buyer for a home but also ensure that the motivations of prospects are pure.
2. Log your showings
A viewing may not go wrong initially. The prospect may come in, be polite, look around, pay your house a compliment and then depart. You may be thinking, hey... that went well, I think we may have found our buyer! However, his or her intention may have been to case the home and return in the future to rob or hurt your family. This is an extreme example but it is something that can happen and the necessary precautions need to be taken. The best and almost only thing you can do to prevent future harm from resulting from a showing is to keep an active log.
In the event of an open house make sure that everyone is signing in with, at the very least, his or her name and phone number. But don't stop there, once the open house is over check to make sure that everyone’s information is correct and valid. There are a couple of ways that you can do this. The first, and probably most productive and useful, would be to simply call the number that was left and ask to speak to the individual that left their name. If they do not live at that phone number than you will know that the individual did not give your their correct information. A second way to check your log in sheet is to look the number or person up online. Sites like 411.ca will allow you to reverse lookup the phone number that the person left. If the number does not match the given name then you will know that the person did not leave their correct information and may have been there with an ulterior motive.
Just because somebody doesn't leave their correct information, doesn't mean that they are criminals. Some people just don't like to give away their personal information. When you have found someone that didn't leave their correct information take a look at your notes (you should be taking notes on everyone that comes in: What they thought, how they acted and anything out of the ordinary) and see what your initial thoughts on that individual were. If upon realizing that the individual did not leave their correct information and looking back on the showing, you feel that the person was not there with the intention of buying the house it is time to trust your instincts. In more severe cases it can never hurt to alert the authorities. You can also call your local Real Estate Brokerages and tell them about your experience. The chances are that if this person came to your open house he or she probably went to others as well. Or, at the very least, will attend open houses in the near future.
3. During showings
When you are showing your house, be sure never to put yourself in a vulnerable position. Keep an eye on all parties. Avoid turning your back to visitors or placing yourself in a corner. Always give yourself a way out. Have a cell phone on you and know where your closest exit is. If you start to get a bad feeling about a showing, don't be afraid to ask your viewers to leave.