With the ever-changing landscape of the real estate market in the Valley area, it seems like there is always someone we know who is selling a home. Some do it to move into a bigger place, some to a smaller place. Whatever the reason, you cannot afford to be careless with security when it comes to selling your home.
Whether or not you use a realty company is entirely up to you. One thing is for sure: real estate people vet their clients, whether they've met through friends or online. Some photocopy their buyers' I.Ds. Others have an introductory form.
But can you trust leaving your home with real estate agents?
Phoenix real estate broker Jim Red of The Winston Group tells us, “Real estate is generally more secure when you're using a realty company to show a property. When a home is listed we have to use lock-boxes that actually keep track of when we enter and leave. Other steps can also be taken such as showing by appointment only or prospective buyers being escorted by the listing agent.”
But, that’s not always enough. As Jim told me later, “I always check the locks, but we're people too and sometimes miss something. I went to a house the other day that the door was unlocked.” (No, he wasn't the one who left it open.) He also told us that he is careful and only one of his listing properties was ever robbed--in the twelve years he's sold real estate.
But, the fact that this happens, even though Jim admits it’s rare, means that you need to do your part to secure your property, too. We’ve assembled some tips to help keep you and your property safe:
- After a showing or open house, check all doors and windows, even those which are located upstairs.
- Do not let a prospective buyer out of your sight.
- Show your house as part of a team. Never show your home when you are by yourself. Always make sure the agent or someone else is with you.
- If you sell the home yourself and your phone number is on the FOR SALE sign, do not use the phrase, “We aren’t home right now…” on the answering machine message. It implies that if you were home, you’d answer the phone. This also holds true of any personal information at all that someone could use as a weakness. (Vacation plans, yours or family member names, etc)
- Identify each potential buyer if you don’t use an agent. Ask to see their I.D.and write the information down. Some people take the license plate number of the car as a precaution. Most prospective buyers understand the reasons for this when you explain it.
- Don’t ever show prospective buyers the alarm system or the code, the garage door code, or give them any other security information--not your work schedule, not your the names of neighbors, not anything they could use for nefarious purposes.
- Never leave valuables in plain sight--wallets, purses, money, jewels, credit cards, restricted-use drugs or anything else which can easily be pocketed needs to be locked up. Especially do not leave the spare keys to your house, car, or the spare garage door opener out in plain sight.
Trust your gut. If someone makes you feel uneasy, have a text code or tell them someone else is on the way.
While the majority of this is common sense, keeping your property secure becomes important when intent burglars have an opportunity to ‘get on the inside’, even if it’s just for a few minutes. We hope these tips have given you some ideas to help keep your home and valuables safe while it's on the real estate market.
Be safe, everybody!