While your home is on the market, you’re probably focused on finding a buyer and getting the highest possible sales price. Unfortunately, you should also keep your personal safety in mind. While crimes at properties for sale are rare, they do occur.
As a homeowner, you should also take steps to increase your safety while your home is for sale.
Protect your valuables
If you have expensive jewelry, small electronics, lots of cash, or other valuable items that could be stolen from your home, temporarily move them to another location— perhaps a safe deposit box or the home of a family member or good friend. (Make sure you know what your insurance policy will cover with these valuables off-site.) Also, consider putting prescription drugs somewhere other than your medicine cabinet. Strangers have been known to visit open houses and view homes for the sole purpose of stealing common but expensive prescription medicines.
Don’t welcome unexpected “buyers”
Yes, the person who drove by and saw the sign in your yard probably is a legitimate, interested buyer, but you can’t know for sure. Better to play it safe and not invite that person into your home. You have every right to refer that buyer to your agent and ask him to make an appointment to see the home another time. Even if your agent puts a lockbox on your home, you can request that your home be shown by appointment.
Get out of the house
You may think you should stay in your house while buyers walk through. After all, you can point out all the great features while keeping an eye out to make sure nothing of value “goes missing,” right? I don’t recommend it. First off, most buyers feel more comfortable discussing the home when the owners are not present. And if that “buyer” is really a criminal, the last place you want to be is in your house with him. Take your dog for a walk, go grocery shopping, visit a friend, or take care of errands while your home is being shown. And any time someone has viewed your property, walk through your home to make sure all windows and doors are closed and locked.
If you’re selling your home on your own, know what you’re getting into
If you’re selling your home without an agent, please take extra precautions. You will be inviting strangers into your home. If possible, have someone with you when you show your property. Request an ID from prospective buyers and let them know this is for security purposes. You might even phone someone to pass along the ID information, so the buyer knows you have done so. Carry your cell phone in your hand, and do not follow buyers into rooms where they can block you from exiting. Don’t discuss your schedule other than setting an appointment to see the home. Always trust your gut. If you think you might be in danger, take steps to get to safety.
Better yet, consider hiring a Realtor to sell your home. Your Realtor not only will make appointments to show your home, but you'll have peace of mind in knowing that the prospective buyers are legitimate buyers, financially qualified and ready to buy. Of course, your Realtor also brings the expertise needed to maximize your selling price and help you meet your other goals in selling your home.